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10.Mai 2014

Schwarzwald Diary (Satis Shroff) 

 

 I was woken up by the sun’s rays that shone into my room. I went to the traditional stony terrace and looked towards the Black Forest mountains in the direction of Kirchzarten and was rewarded by the sight of the rising sun. After a Schwarzwälder breakfast and a quick scanning of the zeitungen I decided to go to Cafe Mozart to a reading by a Freiburger poetess named Lilo Külp, which I’d been postponing all these years.  (The Freiburger poetess Lilo Külp reading in Cafe Mozart) The cafe is run by family Rückert and it’s near the Siegesdenkmal, a cafe that reminded my of my journey to Salzburg, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. The poetess was accompanied musicaly by Claudia Thyme, who played the sax and conjured up melodies from 1001 Nights because that was also a part of the reading. The story in verse was about Lousianna, a poetess with a beautiful voice. Her father goes on a long journey and gives her a good piece of advice to use her resources. She walks up to a temple. Opens the door, enters it, goes to the altar and starts telling her story. – Suddenly a voice asks her rudely, “What are you doing here?” It is the temple priest. Go away, this is not the place for telling such tales.” She’s sad and leaves the temple. A small sparrow chirps and says, “Tell your story to the people in the streets.” She follows this advice. The people listened, coins began to roll in and she had a lot of stuff for tales. She meets a carpet seller in the busy street, who uses his entire charm and cunningness to sell his wares and creates a furore every time. It was a wonderful rendering from a frail Lilo Külp but when she talks her eyes light up and everything she says is interesting. She knows how to capture her audience. Frau Külf read from her book of poems with the title ‘Even the Half-Moon is Lovely.’ (Freiburg’s midwives demonstrating low-pay and bad job perspectives at the Kaiser Joseph Strasse, Bertold’s Fountain in downtown Freiburg). They were supported by a good many parents, which reminded me a lecture I’d given on Obstetrics which dealt with pregnancy and labor symptoms, and whether a water-birth is good or a birth in a hospital, the advantages and disadvantages of both.  MITEINANDER (Togetherness): MGV-Kappel “Liederkranz,” Musikverein-Freiburg-Kappel and Trachtenverein St. Ulrich The Spring Concert of the Musikverein-Kappel organised a good programme and even invited a guest brass band called the Trachten-Kapelle St. Ulrich conducted by Hans Breika, an athletic, tall man. They’d brought their own moderator along: Monika Steiert. The Musikverein Freiburg-Kappel was conducted by Bernhard Winter, a jolly Bavarian, who in the course of the evening told me over a glass of sekt that he’d bought a piece of land in the vicinity of Lake Ontario and wanted to spend the winter of his life in Canada. What a pleasant thought. He confided that he does have German croonies there, and he goes often to the USA and Canada. The moderation of the Kappler band was to be done of Karin Peter but she could’d and so Klaus Gülker , a South-West Radio man with the gift of the German gab, had volunteered to take over the moderation, which he did with elan, spiced with poetry and a touch of humour. The first piece was John William’s ‘Fanfare’ and there was a lot of fanfare in it. The good thing about a brass band is that it’s performed with oomph. The next song was ‘I Remember Clifford’ composed by Benny Golson, a story of an unlucky trumpet player; a beautiful melody with drums, trumpet played by the Kappler musician Stefan Nerz, who’s name Gülker translated literally to Mink. You could have danced a good fox trot to this melody, but since it was a concert, nobody did. Then came the ‘Headliner’ composed by Dennis Armitage, a quick-step tact and melody; rather catchy tune. This was followed by James barnes’ ‘Danza Sinfonica’ with whom the cunductor Bernard Winter had telephone for hours. He said he’d drunk more than a beer with Dennis Armitage in Chicago. The great-great-great grandfather of James Barnes was also mentioned. The orchestra produced a big sound, making maximal use of brass and big drums, tamborine; the sound emulated a paso doble mingled with Arabian Nights and Spanish castanettes. The flute, clarinet and sax melodies were charming and transported the audience to another world. A difficult piece masterly performed and conducted by the Musikverein-Kappel conducted by Bernd Winter. The last number was ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ composed by John Philip Sousa. It might be mentioned that a term was coined during those early days ‘the sousaphone,’ an instrument which sounds like a bomb in an orchestra. Don’t we love American composers out here in Europe, especially Germany? Yes, we do. Five musicians of the Musikverein-Kappel who’d been playing still in the verein were honoured, among others Dominik and Isabelle Steiert. Joachim Maurer came after attending the soccer match in Kenzingen (from the Oberbadische verband) and thanked Albert Dold for his dedicated service for 5o years with the verein in Kappel. He’d joined the Musikverein-Kappel in 1968 at the age of 12 and received the golden Ehren-needle. After the intermission the Trachtenkapelle St. Ulrich conducted by Hans Breika played the Procession of Nobles (Einzug der Edelleute)composed by Nicholas Rimsky Korsakov which was with a lot of oomph and clarion calls. The men were dressed in white shirts, black trousers and scarlet waistcoats with golden buttons, which suited the brass instruments they were playing: horns, trumpets, trombones and the like. ‘Second Suite for Band’ composed by Alfred Reed was followed by ‘The Wizard of Oz’ which was introduced as the American answer to the German fairy tales by the Grimm brothers, and which was made popular by Judy Garland. ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’was one of the world hits. The Cordillerasde los Andes’ composed by Klees Vlak took the audience to the far off Andes mountains of South America with such works as: Cotopaxi, Illmani and Coro puna. The musical presentation by the traditional Trachtenkapelle St. Ulrich (located near the town of Au)in their colourful costumes came up with Latin American melodies which began slowly, was frivolous with rumba-elements and evoked fiery Latin feelings culimnating in samba rhythms. Gallilero composed by Thomas Doss was played towards the end depicting a time when South America was conquered by the Spanish conquistadors. On the whole the compositions were a good melange of North and South American melodies and it was an enjoyable evening.

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Musikverein Buchenbach: Weihnachtskonzert (Satis Shroff)

 

Buchenbach lies to the east of the Kingdom of Heaven (Himmelreich) with an idyllic location, surrounded by Black Forest homesteads: Mesbacherhof, Zähringerhof, Rufenhof, Brissenhof. The ruins of the castle Burgberkenhof looms over the hamlet. And that’s where I went to the New Year’s concert in the Sommerberghalle performed by the Musikverein Buchenbach, where I happen to know quite a few people. In Buchen bach most of the people bear the names Schuler or Maier.

 

What do you expect in a small provincial town in Germany? It was a well-chosen programme and the conductor, an elderly man named Joseph Schuler, who has been conducting since 1983, started the evening with an instrumental marching song ‘A Day of Hope’ composed by the Austrian Fritz Neuböck. If you play a march in Germany, the elderly generation is with you because they’ve heard so many marching songs since their childhood. Today’s generation has a rather USA and UK taste for music with You Tube, Facebook, iPod, iMac download possibilities.

 

The next number was an ouverture Dichter und Bauer composed by Franz von Suppe, who was born in 1890 and arranged by  Max Hampel: a comedy with songs about a marriage with a fiery crescendo towards the end. Then came the time of the tuba with the Bombastic Bombardon played by Klaus Mangler and other young solists. This was followed by Lichtblicke, a symphonic fantasy by Kurt Gäble, depicting different lights with music and symbolising the ups and downs of life and the inevitable light in the darkness.

 

Maximillian Maier, a young and talented trumpeteer, then played The Rose composed by Amanda McBroom, Bette Middler and Frank Bernaerts. The Rose is a Hollywood movie about the stardom of Janice Joplin and her eventual fall at the hands of a money-hungry manager who makes her appear on-stage till she finally collapses.

 

Auf Ferienreisen composed by Joseph Strauß was the next piece arranged by Herber Maizer. This time even the conductor Joseph Schuler turned up with a big overseas suitcase, donning a Tyroler hat and began furiously with a pacy pokla. Joseph Strauss was the brother of Johann Strauss the King of Waltz melodies like: An der schönen blauen Donau, Wiener Blut, Wein, Weib,Sang and Kaiser Waltz to name a few.

 

After the intermission we were entertained with another concert marching-music: The Thunderer (Der Donnerer) by none other than John Philip Sousa, who composed ‘Stars and Stripes’, the second national anthem of the USA.

 

The audience were delighted when a selection from Starlight Express, which has been staged in Bochum since a long time, was rendered complete with costumed figures from the musical on in-liners.

 

Suddenly, the choreography took a turn towards the East and the orchestra played Harry Richard’s ‘Namaste,’ a greeting from India. A section of the orchestra greeted the audience and the guru (conductor) with folded hands and the German audience laughed because it was outlandish and thus hilarious. The garrulous, bespectacled, bearded moderator did his best to explain what a namaste meant and even brought in a reference to the Third Eye. Actually, when someone in Nepal or India performs a ‘namaste’ it means: ‘I greet the Godliness in you!’

 

La Storia was a film by Jacob de Haan evoking images of the Tosca (Italy) followed by a melange from the musical ‘Mary Poppins’ composed by Richard and Robert Shermann and arranged by Ted Ricketts.

 

After the concert I talked with Ursula Fruttiger, who plays the flute in the Musikverein Buchenbach, which has at the moment 70 active musicians, and the repertoire ranges from traditional works to classic and modern. Asked when the Musikverein plays, Ursula replied with a broad smile, ‘We play in the community on different occasions and our music is a bit religious and also worldly. We also take part in the activities of the other associations (vereins). When our members have birthdays or round anniversaries.’

 

Now isn’t that a nice thought? I remembered the last time when the Männergesangverein came and sang songs like ‘Mein guter Freund’, ‘Heimat’ and other touching traditional songs. I had tears of joy in my eyes.

 

Ursula went on to say, ‘We have Maiwecken on the 1st of May and play music every year at another place in the hamlet and the local Buchenbacher love it.

 

The New Year’s Concert in the Sommerberghalle is very popular among the locals as well as people from the surrounding hamlets and towns. We also get invited by other music associations and they visit us during the during our annual Musikhock in the old quarry.

 

I was amazed at the many young boys and girls who were in the orchestra. In the case of the country’s men’s choirs the olde boys are dying out and there’s difficulty in motivating young people to join the traditional vereins. They’d rather rave, listen and dance to techno, rap,hip-hop and other music and songs.

 

Ursula Fruttiger came up with, ‘Besides our orchestra, we have also a youth-band with 30 young musicians. After a successful exam in the bronze performance category, the young people become full-fledged members of the orchestra. Some of the youth then play in big orchestras.

 

‘At what age can you join the Musikverein?’ I asked Ursula.

 

‘We teach 8- year olds to play a brass instrument and the instrument is provided by the Musikverein, and we also finance the musical education.

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Christmas Concert in Kappel on December 26,2010

The Weihnachtskonzert was staged this time by the MGV Kappel and conducted by Johannes Söllner, and the Musikverein Freiburg-Kappel conducted by Manfred Preiß. The two vereins play host in alternating years. The concert began at 8pm in the Kappeler Festhalle. We did a last rehearsal in the media-room of the Schauinsland school in Kappel. Christel barged into the room and exclaimed, in a tearful voice, ‘The guests have started pouring in and there’s no one to greet them and take care of the tickets.’ That worked like a signal and we started to descend the stairs towards the Festhalle.

 

There were concert-guests taking off their thick winter overcoats, and helping their ladies out of their fur coats. The members of the musikverein were guests  gathered in the foyer. There was no chaos. Everything was under control.

The concert began with the Project Orchestra of the Musikverein conducted by Rainer Heuberger. They played popular instrumentals such as: Amazing Grace, the Pink Panther, My Romance, a Christmas medley, the Little Town of Bethlehem and Hawk. Most of the musicians were young boy barely in their teens, which is a good thing since there is a dearth of German youth in the singing and music choirs.

 

This time, we the Kappeler men’s choir, began with ‘Il est ne,le divin enfant´, a French song, followed by a beautiful yodel-song from Tyrole (Austria): ‘Andachtsjodler.’ The next song was the popular ‘Fröhliche Weihnacht überall’ which was originally a song from England.

 

Someone had absent-mindedly locked up the piano and the pianist started looking for the keys in his pockets and elsewhere. All the while under the scrutiny of a silent, tolerant audience. Perhaps they thought this was a gag, but it wasn’t. Finally Werner Walter asked the conductor who’d played the piano whether he had the keys. And voila! He had ’em in his raised left hand.

 

In such a constellation you have to have a few gospel and spiritual songs, and accordingly ‘Oh, Happy Day’ with Christoph Fuss as the lead singer, and ‘My Lord, What a Morning’ was sung to the delight of the audience.

A song that conjoured up images of South Africa was ‘Aya Ngena’ sung in Swaheli by the Männergesangverein, and promises of peace in the Middle East with ‘Hora Jerusalem.’ The Hebrew accents that we’d learned all these weeks and the fast tempi of the song got the audience raving.

 

The Musikverein Freiburg-Kappel came up with a project-orchestra conducted by Rainer Heuberger for this special occasion. The repertoire had ‘Gaillarde’ Pierre d’ Attaignant’ with arrangements by Manu Mellaerts, ‘And the Mountains Echoed: Gloria’ by Robert Longfield. Then came ‘Der Zigeunerbaron’ composed by Johann Strauss and arranged by Akira Yodo. Another song is from the musical ‘Elizabeth’ composed by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay with arrangements by Johan de Meij, followed by ‘Czardas’ by Vittorio Monti and arranged by Jan Rypens. The solist was Felix Klein. The musical arrangements were rather long but there was variety in the pieces, so it wasn’t that bad.

 

The moderators were Klaus Suetterle for the MGV Kappel and Karin Peter, who had an East-Bloc accent, for the Musikverein Kappel. After the concert it was a comfortable get-together and Miteinander in the Festhalle and the bar downstairs. The day after the Festhalle was cleared of everything that resembled a concert hall. We did it with German thoroughness: pico bello. 

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Courtesy: Badische Zeitung, Freiburg

Courtesy: Badische Zeitung, Freiburg

Courtesy: Dreisamtaeler, Kirchzarten

Green City Freiburg Honours Satis Shroff

At an official ceremony in Freiburg’s Exhibition Hall Ulrich von Kirchbach, the mayor in charge of Culture and Integration honoured the life work of Satis Shroff. In his laudatio, von Kirchbach presented an Urkunde from the City of Freiburg as a special acknowledgement for Satis Shroff’s commitment and prolonged support and assistance to refugees and foreign students, and as a member of the managing committee of the Männergesangverein (men’s choir) ‘Liederkranz’ Freiburg-Kappel.

Satis Shroff was awarded the DAAD Prize in 1998.

Culture can give you insight into the living world of refugees, it can help remove boundaries and open new horizons, thereby enhancing the development of creativity in humans. Accordingly, Satis Shroff said in his thank-you-message: “I’d advise migrants to join a German association (verein), for that’s the place to meet the Germans and interact positively with them. I’m a member of the MGV Kappel, where we sing old and new German and English songs. After the singing we invariably go to one of the two taverns in Kappel to joke, laugh and talk about what moves us. There’s respect, tolerance, compassion among the singers and a good feeling of togetherness within the community. Whether it’s religious or seasonal events, funerals or initiation-rites, the men’s choir is always there, taking part in all walks of life. In this way, we get to know our strengths and weaknesses and help each other with sound advice and action. As we say in Germany: I really feel ‘Sauwohl in Kappel,’ which means I feel great. I can’t imagine a better integration in the German mainstream.”

In the past, and even now and then, Satis Shroff has cared for refugee children from Bosnia, Madedonia and Kosovo-Albania and did pedagogic work with them. Many children were able to make the necessary grades and others were sent to their home-countries as soon as the krieg ceased in their country of origin. He remembers cases of refugee-families who were woken up from their sleep in the wee hours of the morning by the police and whisked away to Frankfurt, put in a plane and escorted to their countries. This is the other side of the world-wide refugee problem.

“One day, a tall and burly, unshaven Albanian man came to the social office and took us as prisoners. He hand a big plastic bag with a canister of petrol and a gun in his hand and said, “If you don’t do what I say I’ll blow you all up.” We were terrified. He was a father who’s daughter had been taken away by the social department because he’d been maltreating her. Whew! That was a traumatic experience. I thought my life was going to end there,” said Satis Shroff.

As a contact person and counsellor for the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Stipendium he worked in cooperation with the Academic Foreign Office in Freiburg and cared for students and scientists from Nepal, India and the United Kingdom and he still maintains good contacts with these academicians.

Satis Shroff speaks English, German, Nepali, Hindi and Urdu and has also worked as a translator with the Amtsgericht on a honorary basis. He has assisted the migrants where he could and he says: “Migrants are helpless in a foreign country and there are cultural, social and language barriers. They a confronted with a strange administrative system and unusual laws and jurisprudence. All this makes the migrant raise his or her hands in despair.”

He was officially requested by the town of Ilmenau to translate Goethe’s famous poem: ‘Wandrers Nachtlied. He has also translated Nepali literature into Nepali. His German book of poems ‘Im Schatten des Himalaya’ has been printed by http://www.lulu.com/satisle. He has also written two Nepali language books for German development workers of GTZ, Goethe Institute, DAAD and the members of the Carl Duisberg Society.

Before he came to Germany for further studies, he worked as a Features Editor with the Rising Nepal, where he wrote editorials and a science column, and commentaries for Radio Nepal on themes pertaining to the country’s development, wildlife and culture.
Satis Shroff is a lecturer, poet, journalist and a passionate singer. ‘I simply love singing Nepali, Hindi, English and German songs,’ he says. He’s a prolific writer and a contributing writer on http://www.americanchronicle.com/authors/view/1207
and on http://www.blogs.boloji.com/satisshroff and satisshroff.tigblogs.org to name a few.

He likes to describe himself a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future in social engagements in the French sense of the word, and in writing and teaching medical subjects and English and German literature.

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The Männergesangsverein Kappel with their standard

THE KAPPEL CHRONICLE (Satis Shroff, Kappel-Schwarzwald)

Lambert Weis: Whisper Words of Hope

It was a bright sunny day on the 6th of July 2010 and you could hear the birds chirping merrily in the adjacent birch and oak trees. We, the men of the Männergesangsverein were attending the funeral of Lambert Weis who was born in 23rd of August 1920. Almost ninety years and the picture above shows the house where he grew up as a child.

It was a funeral in the presence of the community in Kappel where he lived. His wife had preceded him fifteen years earlier. Ach, the suffering of this world, the darkness that befalls death. A life that death cannot tear away.

Lambert Weis had a special relationship to the Männergesangsverein where he was an active member for fifty years. We all knew him as an amiable, bespectacled man, who used to go around Kappel wearing his schieber-cap and a wandering stick, with emblems as reminders of the places he’d been to with his dear wife. It is in such times, when a soul departs that we think of the friendliness and sympathetic behaviour of the departed, and the signs of love a person has left behind. Such was the case of Lambert Weis, who died on the 29th of June 2010, who had a fall and succumbed to his internal injuries.

The paths are abandoned and we’re alone in these grey lanes, where no one comes.

Bless us Great Mother every day. Bless all hearts and every hut and town where people live. Spread your holy hands and whisper words of hope in his mouth. Blessings in death and dying, and in the life we’re living.

The ceremony began with a song ‘Wir sind nur Gast auf Erde’, that is, we’re only guests on this earth—sung together by all present at the St.Peter and Paul. Then followed ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Agnus Dei’ from the Deutsche Messe (Franz Schubert) sung by the colleagues of Lambert Weis from the Männergesangsverein (men’s choir) ‘Liederkranz.’

When Lambert Weis came from the last World War II, where he was detained as a prisoner of war, and had lost his index finger, he looked frail and had a haggard expression on his face. He knew what it was to be hungry during, and especially after the krieg. There were a lot of difficulties to be overcome and quite a few people in the Kappeler community thought out loud and said he wouldn’t survive. But Herr Weis showed them all that he was made of sterner stuff and outlived a lot of his colleagues. He built a home after what had been a long journey towards the end of the war and thereafter.

Due to the Second World War the activities of the men’s choir were reduced and almost came to a stop because most of the able-bodied men from the bergwerk and the Black Forest farmsteads had to do work as soldiers under the Wehrmacht in different fronts. They were replaced by prisoners-of-war from Poland,Later France, Russia and the Ukraine. Since there were very few men left, the men’s choir came closer with Littenweiler’s ‘Frohsinn’ and Herr Weiss was the conductor then. World War II brough a heavy loss to the Männergesangsverein because seven singers didn’t return. It was August Dold who brought the old and young singers together in 1946.

The new men’s choir ‘Liederkranz,’ which means a wreath of flowers, was founded on July 13,1947 after the then French government gave permission to the men to sing officially. The first chairman was Pius Trescher, who held his office till 1959. After that Herr Weiss, a senior school teacher, took over with twenty-four active and 67 passive members.

Comradeship and socialising together have always been important to the men’s choir, and excursions were undertaken together to the different towns and hamlets and the neighbouring countries: France, Switzerland and Austria.

The 16th and 17th of July 1950 was a special day for the men’s choir flag inauguration, and it began with a festival mass and honouring of the dead. And in the afternoon there was a big procession with the Kappeler verein. The people rejoiced and it took on the character of a folks-festival. On the following Monday there was the children’s and family-festival.

After the choir had sung the Grablied and the priest had sprinkled the holy water and bestowed a small spade of earth and spoken the words ‘from dust to dust and ashes to ashes,’ it was the turn of the men’s choir to do the same. Richard Lindner, the standard bearer of the Männergesangsverein, lowered the decorative flag of the verein into the open grave and marched out in two in their blue and black uniforms, after having spoken words of condolence to the sons and their wives of the deceased, waiting below the arcade to the graveyard.

He was a loveable person and that is why his love shall remain in the places and the hearts of those who knew him, for love goes beyond death. What remains is something eternal and becomes a part of eternity.

The epitaph goes thus:

Wenn die

Kraft

Zu Ende

Geht,

ist die

Erlösung

Gnade.

Autor Biographie

Satis Shroff ist Dozent, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kunstler und außerdem Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing an der Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg.  Satis Shroff lebt in Freiburg-Kappel (poems, fiction, non-fiction) und schreibt über ökologische, medizin-ethnologische und kultur-ethnische Themen. Er hat Zoologie und Botanik in Nepal, Sozialarbeit und Medizin in Freiburg und Creative Writing in Freiburg und UK studiert. Da Literatur eine der wichtigsten Wege ist, um die Kulturen kennenzulernen, hat er sein Leben dem Kreatives Schreiben gewidmet. Er arbeitet als Dozent in Basel (Schweiz) und in Deutschland an der  Akademie für medizinische Berufe (Uniklinik Freiburg). Ihm wurde der DAAD-Preis verliehen.

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