The Cold Spring Area Maennerchor
Celebrating 80 Years of Making Music!
The Cold Spring Maennerchor (German for Men's Choir) has been blessed for over 75 years with men who love to sing and share the gift of song. We have been fortunate to live in a place in the world where people appreciate music and song!
It is 1937. The world is still in the throes of the great depression. Jobs are
slowly becoming more available in the United States.
Other governments are slowly getting in position to, ultimately, join forces. In China there are occupation troops in place from Japan. In Europe the NAZI party is consolidating its strength and starting activities that will ultimately cause it to be regarded with great horror. In the United States the political position is one of isolation from the problems looming on the world horizon. It is difficult enough to feed the populace when unemployment is still over 20%.
In this climate a group of men get together in Cold Spring, Minnesota for the sake of discussing politics, the economy and just some general fellowship. Most of them are still unmarried and quite happy to just have a good job. One of their interests is wine tasting. After all these men grew up during prohibition and now they were able to acquire these beverages again. So an interest in the wines of their ancestral countries was one they all shared. These men begin to meet once a month for some wine tasting and singing. The group grows in size and their singing becomes more organized.
These activities begin to be known among their other friends. One of the men's fiancee (later his wife) is a school teacher. She is preparing a program with her students and feels that it may be nice to have the men sing some of their songs at this program. Under the direction of Mr. Glanville Smith this is done much to the satisfaction of all of the members. The old songs such as Home on the Range, Holy God We Praise Thy Name and Viva l'Amour are among the variety of music used in those first activities.
Encouraged by this activity the group gains more members during 1938. One of the original members was Ted Krebsbach. Currently Ted Krebsbach is still singing with the Maennerchor - of course he is the son of the original member.
By the autumn of 1938 one of the first members started to get the group more properly and officially organized. This man was Maurice O'Connor. In September of 1938 a name was selected for the group. After considering Cold Spring Singverein (Singing Society) and Maurice's Glee Club; the name Cold Spring Glee Club was selected. The first singing outing was for Christmas. Twenty-seven members were involved in this first public presentation.
Sometime during the first few years the name of the group evolved to Cold Spring Men's Chorus.
In May of 1939 the first official concert was presented. Fathers of other current members were in this program. One was Nick Terhaar, father of Jim Terhaar, who until recently was a member of our Bass section. Another was Alphonse Fuchs, father of John Fuchs a member of our Baritone section. These men were charter members of the original chorus. That same year a Christmas "Beanfest" Party was organized. It met with such success that this same event was performed for 12 years.
The war years suspended many of the singing activities. After this time the group had serious difficulty getting revived on a regular basis even with annual Christmas Concerts.
In 1973 under the guidance of Mr. Jay Engel the group reorganized. It has never looked back. To help remind many members of their Germanic heritage the name of the organization became "The Cold Spring Area Maennerchor."
In 1981 the Maennerchor joined the Associated Male Chorus's of America. This provided a regular opportunity to sing with other choruses from the upper Midwest. It also included the annual challenge to learn new music for use at a regional concert called The Big Sing. This event brings together up to 13 similar choruses for a common concert and participation in a group of hundreds of voices. These events provided the first opportunities to sing with international groups and also to perform internationally in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Big Sing events are still an annual affair. The Maennerchor hosted this event in Cold Spring, Minnesota in April, 2007, and will host again in April, 2014, concluding with a 300 voice massed choir concert to be held at the Abbey Church at St. John's University.
Over fifteen years ago the Maennerchor organized and participated in its first European Tour and concert trip. This trip started in Germany, went to Austria, Switzerland, on to Paris and back into the western part of Germany by way of the Black Forest and Rhine River.
Five years later the Maennerchor again ventured to Europe visiting and singing their way across the United Kingdom.
Annual events for the Maennerchor that have developed during the last two decades include Spring Dinner Concerts and occasional German Songfests with other Minnesota choruses, all the while singing for area civic and health care organizations. In the mid 1990's Christmas concerts were re-started and have again become an annual event.
The first twelve singing seasons of this new millennium has seen the Maennerchor enjoying their third European trip. Concerts in Germany and Austria were capped by the opportunity to sing at a Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Equally thrilling was singing for evening Mass in St. Peter's Cathedral.
Membership of the Maennerchor has continued to grow with a current roster of thirty-eight singing voices.
We have the good fortune of having a new director, Mr. Roger Towler, who replaced our long time director, Tim Jarnot, who retired at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. Roger Towler is from Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The group has also been blessed with many fine accompanists. At this time our accompanist is Gayle Gunnerson. She comes from a very appropriate background having played for amateur choirs in church for many years. Ms. Betty Kuss, wife of member Duane Kuss in our Tenor I section, accompanies the choir as well.