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English choir learns to sing in German

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

In preparation for an upcoming concert, most members of the Central Florida Master Choir had to learn German, or at least the words they will sing.

That wasn’t the case though for On Top of the World resident Margitta Claterbos.

She was born and raised in Germany. So, to help the members who did not know the language, Claterbos translated the choir’s upcoming German program — Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem — into English. The choir secretary said she wanted them to know what they were actually singing. She also helped them to pronounce the words correctly, which helped Sue Koppler.

The Rainbow Springs resident said she did not think it would have come as easy as it did without the help of Claterbos’ German classes she held before practice. Unlike many of the singers, who have been practicing since May 2008, Koppler did not join the performance until January 2009 along with four other parishioners from Dunnellon Presbyterian Church. “We’ve been on a crash course,” said the director of music ministries at Dunnellon Presbyterian.

David Keith was also familiar with the German piece, but he had to learn it quickly about 10 to 12 years ago, when he was invited to sing it at Dartmouth College. Though the former Glee Club member had sung it before and spent more than a year in Germany, he said he never really knew the language well. But, with the assistance of Claterbos and some practice he has learned it well enough to sing it.

“I’m sure it is going to go well,” he said of the concerts.

Though Bonnie Salo did not have to learn the music quickly, she had to start from scratch too. The On Top of the World resident has never sung the piece before or learned German. “It was extremely difficult,” she said. In fact, she was one of the members who voted for the performance to be sung in English, but was overruled. To learn her part, she began to sing along with the rehearsal tapes. She also practiced for about an hour each day.

“I worked very hard,” she said.

For Mary Hensley, the piece was not too difficult to learn, considering she had sung it several years ago in a choir in Boston, Massachusetts. “It comes back to you,” she said.

The Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, which is a classical piece and is written in German, has 95 pages of music and takes about an hour to perform. The Central Florida Master Choir has singers from Ocala, Dunnellon, Citrus Springs, Crystal River, Beverly Hills, Hernando and Gainesville. Harold McSwain, Jr. directs the singing group.

The Central Florida Master Choir has been singing for about 10 years.

The choir will perform Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem March 28 at First Presbyterian Church in Inverness at 7 p.m.; March 29 at Countryside Presbyterian Church in Ocala at 3 p.m. and April 5 at First United Methodist Church in Gainesville at 4 p.m. Countryside Presbyterian Church is at 7768 S.W. Highway 200. The performance is free to the public. Donations are welcome.