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Frozen In Time: 75 Years Of Maennerchor [VIDEO]

COLD SPRING — This week in our “Frozen In Time series” we stopped out to Rocori High School to get a singing lesson. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Maennerchor, a choral group that was founded in 1937.

It was Bill Thull’s love for music that led him to the Maennerchor in 1945 at the age of 19. Today, Thull is 86 years old and is the oldest active group member.

One interesting dynamic is the impact that one family has had on the group over the years. Thull and his two cousins Walter Backes and John “Jack” Maus have more than 150 years of combined experience singing in the Maennerchor.

Backes says he started singing in the group when he was 17 years old. He (Thull) coaxed me to come down too. Being 17 years in life I thought, oh I’ll go try, I have nothing else to do.”

The Korean War took many group members in the 1950s including Thull and Backes. The choir was forced to go on a temporary hiatus. In 1973 a group of guys got together and decided to start the chorus up again. Since then, the choir has performed for crowds both nationally and internationally.

Maus joined the chorus in 1973 when he moved to Cold Spring. “Of course the cousins grabbed me and said ‘hey, you’ve got to come and sing with the Maennerchor.’ Of course, I had been singing in choruses at St. John’s and through college,” says Maus.

In 1981 the group became part of the Associated Male Chorus’s of America. This allows them to perform with other singing groups throughout the Midwest.

Thull says one of his favorite things about the group is, “getting together with the guys, you know, a lot of camaraderie.”

Over the years the three cousins have sang at various locations throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Backes says, “one of the big highlights we had in Europe was singing for the Pope. It was quite an honor for us at that time.” The group sang in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in 2001.

Maus says, “I always have enjoyed music. And music has run in our family for many, many years.”

Each Wednesday night more than 40 group members get together to catch up with each other and rehearse for upcoming concerts under the direction of Tim Jarnot.

More than 350 people from 13 chorus’s will get together on April 26th for the annual Big Sing concert at St. John’s University.┬áThis is the first time since 2007 that the Maennerchor has hosted the Big Sing. The annual event is an opportunity for singing groups to learn new music and perform together as one large chorus. Tickets for the concert are on-sale now.

See More of Our 'Frozen In Time' Series

Ashli Gerdes, WJON News

 

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