Saturday, the 5th of March 2011, the Nathaniel School of Music conducted a choir workshop at the All Saints’ Church, Bangalore. The workshop was conducted by the members of the Maulbronn Seminar Choir , Germany, led by world renowned conductor, Jürgen Budday.
Jürgen Budday conducts three different choirs and has been a music instructor for 32 years in the Maulbronn Seminar, Germany. Twenty five students of his sixty two members of the choir accompanied him here, where he spoke to the audience on the importance of vocal techniques and voice toning exercises.
German Music has always been an inspiration for pioneering music from the baroque period through the classical era with legends like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Mozart. Classic operas, chorales and oratorios were heavily patronized and popularized by orchestras, choirs and conductors of bygone Germany. Therefore watching this choir as their four-part harmonies transported us into their world was the most delightful experience.
Even more wonderful was the fact that this choir comprised of prodigious high school-goers who not only held music scores but could read them too! Each of them was trained in either vocal or instrumental music apart from their regular syllabus at the Seminar. The finesse and brilliance of the music-making here is breathtaking. It is a high school just like any other except, here every 10th and 11th grade student is a part of this spectacular choir. Students are encouraged and trained in the genre of music that they choose to pursue. From traditional oratorios, that the children swear to uphold, to modern metal, one could find a patron of almost every kind of music in that bunch of enthusiasts. Yorick Fischer, one of the bass singers with the choir went on to say, “A very good thing about Maulbronn is that you can have all kinds of music at one place. For instance, I am a brutal death metal fan and a drummer and at Maulbronn, I can take professional growling lessons, professional screaming lessons. So one is not restricted to take up choral music alone.“
The discipline and passion of every singer and the 14-year old Ruediger Garhoefer who accompanied them on the piano truly had us all smiling as they sang the lovely ‘Canon‘ and their own rendition of a song called ‘Sing Acapella’. Awestruck, we asked the conductor about their practice schedules to which he replied, “We meet regularly once a week. But if a performance is on the cards, then we have intensive practice sessions for 3 full days. At Maulbronn, the music never ceases. You will find students singing all around the school in their free time.“
Our desire to be able to sing like that with them was fulfilled only moments later, when after engaging in a couple of odd looking exercises, the crowd discovered their voices and sang, “doo ba doo doo sing acapella” with the choir. The youngest of them all, the 14 year old pianist, took a little session on piano playing techniques following which a young violinist too educated us on his intriguing instrument. He went on to perform a classic violin piece that everyone was delighted to witness.
The youngsters exhibited their skills at not only singing but also in dancing later that evening, as they spiritedly attempted to learn a few techniques of Indian Classical dance from the troupe of classical dancers who performed for them. A casual evening of cultural mixing like no other, the joy, acceptance and appreciation were not lacking on either side, while my uplifted mind lay wrapped in wonder of the Miracle of Music that binds us all together even in this World.