Let your heart sing!

If they are not practising then they are singing. And that with the right amount of talent, hard work, and stunning warmth and friendliness. Follow us as we take you on an excursion over an extended weekend with members of the Cape Town Children Choir.

Anybody who has ever met Sigi Hänger, an incredibly versatile musician, has also met the personification of excitement and cheerfulness. “The smile is etched into my face,” Sigi says after spending a few days with members of the Cape Town Children Choir. Ten girls and two boys aged 10 to 14 were in Germany over the 2016 Pentecost celebrations.

Reunion at the airport. Lee-Jeandre and Neléne met in December 2014. A group of 120 young choristers from Cape Town were on a tour of Germany at the time. The two became friends and have been in touch over WhatsApp since then. They think it is awesome that they can actually be together now.

A rehearsal-cum-performance

The children were accommodated in a youth hostel in Limburg, a town just north of Frankfurt. Their rehearsal on Friday morning turned into a more or less involuntary first performance. Their conductor, Anthea Rohde, was looking for a piece to do vocal warm up exercises with the choir and began to hum a tune that crossed her mind. Sigi Hänger, who was at the piano, picked up the tune and so did the children—in three-part harmony and off the cuff. The piece is called “Love yourself”. It was written by Justin Bieber. All of a sudden there was some commotion at the door to the rehearsal room—which had been left ajar. A group of slightly older teenagers—a school class who were also staying at the same youth hostel—were jostling for a good spot at the door in the hope of getting their cell phones in far enough to film the cool choir.

Carbonated water is fun

The young Capetonians had their first appearance on Friday evening in our church in Giessen-South together with the children’s choir and orchestra from this district, which are led by Beate Lindemann.

The members of the district made sure that there was plenty of delicious food for the young musicians. What the young guests, however, seemed to miss was non-carbonated water. “The kids thought it totally odd that we drink carbonated water here,” Sigi Hänger said, smiling about the small cultural differences. But smart as they are, the kids knew how to help themselves: when there was only carbonated water, they shook their bottles until all the darn bubbles were gone …

What is in the heart has to be reflected in the face

During the rehearsal on Saturday morning—in preparation for the big concert that evening with a children’s choir from the Frankfurt area—Anthea Rohde, the conductor, was at her best. For the concert she taught the German choir the principles that the Cape choirs follow, Sigi Hänger reports: “Do not only sing with your voices but with your hearts.” And: “Bring out what is inside your heart. It has to be seen on your face.”

There were tears of joy when the children finally learned where they would be performing that evening—in a magnificent historical concert hall in Wiesbaden. “Awesome! What a beautiful concert hall. What an honour to be able to sing here.” Especially the girls were excited. This concert was of course the highlight of the South African children’s trip. But they were just as excited about meeting the Chief Apostle, well, actually both Chief Apostles: Jean-Luc Schneider and his predecessor, Wilhelm Leber.

The message is important

Musicians could learn from the South African children, Sigi Hänger says. What really impressed him was the choice of pieces for the concert. “They did not pick the most spectacular pieces, but the songs that best suited the occasion.” Putting the importance on the message rather than just delivering a spectacular performance is something we have lost sight of here and there in Germany.

The children from Cape Town have in the meantime arrived home safe and sound. They are still in touch with their German friends. Lee-Jeandre and Neléne have become best buddies: “We have really bonded.”

Many new friendships have developed over this visit, friendships that want to be fostered. “We have started a huge WhatsApp group. But I am out,” Sigi laughs. “Hundreds of messages in one day, that’s just too much … ”

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