A few members of the choir met at 6pm on a warm and sunny Sunday evening 21st June to take part in the national Ode to Joy tribute to the country’s frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a nationally organised event to allow everyone in the country (from president Michael D. Higgins downwards) to show their appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice of frontline workers by singing or playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the designated time, in multiple private and public locations throughout the country. Special words had been composed for the occasion by Catherine Ann Cullen, Poetry Ireland Poet-in-Residence (https://www.odetojoy.ie). Our performance took place at the bandstand in the hollow near the entrance to Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
It seems that we were not the only people with the idea of performing at this location, as after arriving we were joined by some members of the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and their families, who were planning to do the same and perform an instrumental version. We ended up performing together, with singers being accompanied by instrumentalists, which turned out to be a happy partnership.
Given that Beethoven is sadly being robbed of some of the glory of the celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth this year, after performing the special version of Ode to Joy we decided to sing a choral arrangement of Beethoven’s original composition, followed by a couple more pieces from the choir’s repertoire. Click here if you’d like to watch part of our Facebook livestream of the occasion.
As well as giving us the opportunity to pay our own tribute to frontline workers, it was also a great pleasure for some of us to meet and to sing together for the first time since our last rehearsal at the beginning of March. Hopefully we’ll have more opportunities to meet and sing as lockdown restrictions are being eased over the coming weeks and months.
The Goethe Choir may not be rehearsing at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not singing together. Under the direction of conductor John Dexter, we’ve put together a video performance of members of the choir singing “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen” by Heinrich Isaac from their own homes during lockdown. “Innsbruck” has been a long-time favourite of the choir and has been sung by us in many locations in Ireland and throughout Europe (including an impromptu performance as we were passing Innsbruck by coach, on our way to the Alta Pusteria choral festival in the Dolomites in June 2018), so it’s very appropriate that we should choose to give a virtual performance of this piece to create a record of this unique period in the choir’s history. You can join our virtual audience by going to the home page of our website or to our Youtube channel at https://youtu.be/QRQTNpBg7RA.
And if you’d like to hear and see us singing “Innsbruck” as we were passing Innsbruck itself, you can see it as part of a video of our memorable trip to the South Tyrol in 2018 by going to https://youtu.be/AIfANIxJ_2g.
As you may already be aware, our Beethoven anniversary concert, due to take place on 3 May in the National Concert Hall, has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. We had all been looking forward very much to this concert to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and especially to the opportunity of performing Beethoven’s wonderful Choral Fantasy with our distinguished piano soloist John O’Conor, in a repeat of a performance of the work given by him with the choir back in December 1976.
It is very disappointing for all concerned that this concert cannot take place as scheduled. However, it is hoped to reschedule the concert for a later date towards the end of the year. Information about this will be posted on the website when available and distributed via newsletter to our subscribers.
In the meantime, if you’d like to hear and see the choir singing while we’re taking an enforced break, you can do so by going to our website at goethechoir.ie. Performances available include snippets from a recent concert in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin (including Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, Haydn’s Missa Brevis and Zadok the Priest by Handel) and a memorable performance in the National Concert Hall in 2013 of the Te Deum from Tosca with renowned Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel (at http://goethechoir.ie/about-us/repertoire).
Due to government restrictions introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 emergency and in order to safeguard the health of our members and of our music director, all choir rehearsals have been suspended for the foreseeable future.
As we previously announced, the Early Music concert which was due to take place today (March 22) in Trinity College was cancelled – we hope to reschedule this concert for a later date when circumstances permit. The next scheduled concert for the choir is on May 3 in the National Concert Hall in Dublin – details here. However, given the length of time that measures to combat the virus are likely to be in place, it is uncertain whether this event will be able to go ahead or not. More specific information about the concert will be published on the website when it becomes available.
In the meantime, we hope that all choir members and supporters stay safe and healthy and we look forward to rehearsing together and performing in public again soon.
The Goethe Choir’s planned concert to celebrate European Early Music Day, which was due to take place on 22nd March in Trinity College Dublin, has unfortunately had to be cancelled due to government restrictions introduced to combat the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. We are hoping to be able to reschedule this concert at a future date when conditions permit and will publish information on the website when it becomes available.
This is disappointing for all concerned but the choir is fully committed to taking all necessary actions to help limit or delay the spread of the virus in Ireland. In this regard, all choir rehearsals have also been cancelled for the foreseeable future and will not resume until it is safe to do so. We will continue to monitor the situation with regard to our planned Beethoven celebration concert in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which is scheduled for May 3rd, and will release more information when we have it.
For those who are interested in past performances of the Goethe Choir, an archive listing of concerts given by the choir since its foundation, together with a listing of all works performed by the choir during that time, is now available on the choir website at http://goethechoir.ie/about-us/repertoire. This also gives an opportunity for longer-serving members of the choir to indulge in a little nostalgia, perhaps.
We owe a huge vote of thanks to Liam Shorten and Maire Owens for all the effort and time involved in collecting and collating this information, and in getting it ready for publication. Although perhaps they did have the compensation of being able to relive personal memorable moments from the choir’s past in the process, of course….
The choir will be having an open rehearsal next Tuesday evening, 21 January 2020, where non-members who have an interest in singing with the choir are invited to come along and take part in the rehearsal for the evening without any obligation to join. The rehearsal takes place at 7.30pm in our normal venue at the Lutherhaus, 24 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided after the rehearsal which will give the opportunity for prospective members to chat to existing choristers and to find out about the activities of the choir for the coming season.
If you know of anyone who would be interested in coming along to the open rehearsal on 21 January and singing with one of Dublin’s leading mixed choirs, please pass the information on. Details on choir membership and on joining the choir can be found at http://goethechoir.ie/join-us.
The choir was back in the National Concert Hall in Dublin last Monday Dec 16th for our annual Christmas concert and was delighted to perform once again to an enthusiastic sell-out audience. The main work this year consisted of parts 2, 5 and 6 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, along with a Christmas motet by Poulenc and a number of seasonal items. Go to our website Gallery page if you’d like to see some photos from the evening.
Unfortunately our German-based soprano Hannah Gries, daughter of alto soloist Alison Browner, had to cry off two days before the concert due to a throat infection, but she was ably replaced by Irish soprano Elizabeth Hilliard, so many thanks to her for stepping in at such short notice. And a special thanks to our music coordinator Werner Blau and music director John Dexter for reacting so successfully and at such short notice to what must have been an unnerving and stressful experience two days before the concert.
So having completed our performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, the question is – what will be the focus for next year’s Christmas concert? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let the choir know via the website suggestion box (for choir members) or via email to email@example.com. In the meantime, we will be back at the National Concert Hall once again on Sunday May 3rd 2020 for a performance of works by Beethoven and Bach with renowned Irish pianist John O’Conor. Keep an eye on our website Events page for more information as it becomes available.
We’ve been trying to make contact with former Choir members who sang in the 1989 Christmas Concert in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham to celebrate and to let them know about this year’s special event. The programme from 1989 lists 59 singers; there are 10 still singing in Goethe Choir, another 15 of whom we can contact and 5 deceased. The website is a way to keep up to date on what’s happening and anyone interested is welcome to register to receive our regular newsletter by going to http://goethechoir.ie/about-us/newsletter. The newsletter mailing list will only be used for the specific purpose of sharing news about the Goethe Choir’s activities and interests. Remembering the Kilmainham concert brings to mind those who are no longer with us, in particular Dick Cooper and John Curran, two tenors who died earlier this year – may they rest in peace.
November is also the month when we make the annual trip to Glencree for the service of peace and reconciliation, this year 17/11. Last year Ambassador Potzel spoke movingly about the aftermath of war – ‘so many families, so many hopes destroyed, so many lives not lived.’ Her family experience of war, partition and reunification suggests that however bleak things look on the political front, change is possible. So while we are looking forward to Bach on 16th December, we have been practising “Freude schöne Götterfunken” and planning to perform the Beethoven Choral Fantasy with John O’Connor in the National Concert Hall on 3rd May 2020, as part of the Beethoven bicentenary celebrations.
On Sunday 17th of November, on German Remembrance Day, the Goethe Choir will participate in the memorial ceremony in honour of all victims of the First and Second World Wars at Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation. This quiet and atmospheric location in the Wicklow Mountains is home to the war cemetery with German war victims of both Wars.