Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beethoven Choirs Travel to Houston for Deutsch Texanischer Saengerbund

Members of the Beethoven Damenchor sing at the 69th annual Texas Saengerfest
Over the weekend, members from the Beethoven Maennerchor and Damenchor traveled to Houston to participate in the 69th Saengerfest of the Deutsch Texanischer Saengerbund. The statewide festival of German music included a delegation meeting and dinner dance, concluding on Sunday with choral performances by groups from Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and New Braunfels. Groups such as Chorgemeinschaft Texas, a traveling cohort, Maenner Massenchor, a men's mass choir, and Gemischter Massenchor, a mixed mass choir, took the stage with spirited pieces as well.

The event, hosted by the Houston Liederkranz, also celebrated the club's 90th anniversary. Houston Mayor Annise Parker offered welcoming remarks in the printed program to people attending the festival from across the state. She congratulated the Liederkranz. "[We] continue to recognize their German heritage by bringing music and culture to our community," she said.

Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Houston, Ricarda Redeker, noted the clubs' sustaining qualities. "Thank you for keeping the spirit of German folk music and choir traditions alive," she said.

Sunday's program began with what has come to be a favorite among participants at the Saengerfest events, whether regional or at the state level. And that is the flag ceremony, a parade of each club's colors, starting with the oldest. And of course right here at home, Beethoven Maennerchor is the first with its founding in 1867.

And while this weekend paid tribute to the Houston Liederkranz, get ready for a big party with the club on Pereida. Beethoven will mark its 150th year in 2017! Stay tuned for information.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Das Ist Gemütlichkeit

It's that time of year - time to celebrate warm weather, friends and good cheer.

Luckily, there's one German word to describe the multitude of things that mean togetherness and warmth and friendships and happy spring days and people we love spending time with and so on and so on and so on.

Das ist Gemütlichkeit.

And as it happens, member George Seidel, a singer in the Maennerchor, has a poem to help many of us understand exactly what Gemütlichkeit means. His mother, Dolly Seidel, wrote it.

George was gracious enough to recite it.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fiesta: Success!

Tobias Klingelhoefer and El Rey Feo, Jon Herrera, sing from Beethoven Maennerchor's song book during Fiesta week.
The four day 2015 Fiesta celebration and Saturday's King William Fair brought thousands of people through the gate at Beethoven Maennerchor. It proves once again the success and popularity of the organization, as well as its importance within the community.

"Beethoven Maennerchor is deeply embedded in San Antonio," said Beethoven president Claus Heide. " Every year, our volunteers and members spend countless hours preparing food, making sure the grounds are ready, tending to the parking lot, and welcoming people during the week. It's a tremendous undertaking that we are proud to be a part of."

Anyone who has ever been to Beethoven during Fiesta knows the food is incomparable. From brats to Reuben sandwiches, the food holds sentimental value and, well, it just tastes really good. Joe Moulder co-chairs the food committee and credited the volunteers for the club's momentum on the food line.

"You are the ones who made Fiesta at Beethoven possible," he told the volunteers. "Thank you. That's what keeps our club open and allows up to keep our prices very low."

Their responsibilities include hours of prep work, peeling, cutting, and boiling. Fiesta week is the second busiest for Beethoven every year. The busiest, of course, is Oktoberfest.

This week, "The People's King," El Rey Feo Jon Herrera, visited Beethoven. King Antonio himself made an appearance with his Royal Court. Beethoven also paid tribute to members of the Armed Services during Military Appreciation Night. And of course, Beethoven's own Maennerchor (men's choir), Damenchor (women's choir), and dance and concert bands entertained the crowds.

Just outside the gate and across the street, Beethoven offers parking for a nominal fee. During Fiesta, a spot runs $10. It increases to $20 during the King William Fair. One driver asked about the fee, hoping her money would go to a worthy cause.

"The cause is most worthy," said Ken Weber, Beethoven vice president. "The funds collected for parking are reserved for historic preservation and upkeep at Beethoven.. A project near to many members hearts is the restoration of the historic 9-pin bowling alley, located just off the Garten on the southern end of the property."

If there was any doubt that Fiesta was successful, a quick trip inside the clubroom would put the rumors to rest. Nearly all of the taps were tapped out following the event. Bar manager Jason Trevino is expecting his next delivery soon to make sure First Friday is equipped with the German beverages that members and visitors alike count on.

"Fiesta's done but now we're looking ahead," Heide said. "There's never a dull moment."

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Food Dudes: Joe Knows Food

It's quite impossible to arrive at Beethoven Maennerchor for any given occasion and not find Joe Moulder, Phillip LaMonica or David Foegelle prepping food for an event. Joe's the tall figure with a big smile and light colored hair walking around the kitchen or hurriedly stumbling to the outdoor food serving area with a giant pot of something boiling.

And the only conclusion one can come up with after reviewing this scenario is that these guys know food. But hidden beneath the surface is how Joe, who co-chairs the food committee, came to Beethoven.

"How it played out was probably about 15 years ago, we came down here for Fiesta with my sister," Joe said one evening as he sat at the bar. "My daughter, who was at the time nine years old, 10 years old, met David Nelson's daughter. His daughter was telling her all about the Kinderchor and how fun it was. I sat in here and was oblivious to everything. We got home and she said, 'I met this girl and they have this group that sings and I want to join.'"

Incidentally, they both forgot all about the conversation and about Kinderchor until about a year and a half later.

"So we came down here (to Beethoven), she went to practice, I immediately felt welcomed," Joe said. " She started getting involved in the Kinderchor and I got roped into volunteering on the food line."

Prodding came courtesy of member Gary Sheets. Joe began like everybody else, schlepping potato salad and sauerkraut. At that time there was food guru Fritz Loeschel who cooked at events. He liked to work the second shift, but a cook can only spend so much time on his feet before they've got to sit down.

"He said 'Hey, why don't you take over for me?'" Joe recalled. "I got baptized on the grill very quickly and never looked back. It became a situation where every event, second shift, I was cooking brats."

Soon, not only was he cooking -- he was changing things.

For one, he didn't care for how the Leberkäse was pre-cooked. (In German, Leberkäse literally means "liver cheese.") He started making them to order. He also began toasting the bread. Little changes here and there started making a big difference for revelers at Beethoven events.

Improvements on the food line and Joe's willingness to volunteer much of his time lead to the obvious question: why aren't you on the board of directors? Joe admits Herb Kriese was able to successfully nudge him to run. "I ran, got elected - that was a surprise - and now I can't get off!" Joe declared.

Joe Moulder, left, and Phillip LaMonica, serve food at UIW for the Irish festival.
The food committee is one of the busiest with events both inside and outside of the club. Volunteers prepare Maennerchor and Damenchor meals for Saengerfests; for the Wounded Warrior Family Support Center; at Joint Base San Antonio-Ft. Sam Houston's Oktoberfest; and just as recent as the Irish festival held at the University of the Incarnate Word. Co-chairman Phillip LaMonica said the prep work takes days but it makes a difference. "People come for the food," he said.

Years ago, Joe remembered, the food committee would cater weddings and private events. But they had spent all their time wrapped up working events. Nowadays, they still cook for private occasions, but only for members.

"I like to cook. I found my own little niche. I enjoy it," said Joe. "It's a lot of work. I don't know how many burns I've had on my hands and arms. To me it's been a very rewarding education. I've learned a lot about cooking for a lot of people." Like when Beethoven hosted the national Saengerfest several years ago, 700 people partook in Joe's famous schnitzel plates. The line circled around the garden. 

Joe's favorite food at Beethoven is shockingly simple.

"You just can't beat that plain old grilled cheese that we make. It's one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches around," he said.

Joe and his team go out of their way to make all the favorites enjoyed at Beethoven. Much of it is local, like the red brats and Leberkäse that come from Granzin's Meat Market in New Braunfels and the bread that's baked at the New World Bakery in Kyle. The white brats are shipped from Schaller and Weber in Long Island. The food guys pick up hundreds of pounds of sausage from the airport when it arrives.

Even after all the hours he spends at Beethoven, Joe still enjoys cooking at home. And, he said he volunteers his time cooking for SAMMinistries

"I get up on Tuesday and Thursday at 4 o'clock in the morning and make breakfast for kids at the SAMM shelter. It's not a pat on the back, it's just that I like to cook," he said. Joe flips pancakes and makes dozens of sack lunches for the children so they have a meal to eat at school.

It's Joe's passion and he believes it's literally in his blood to make his second home at Beethoven. "This place grows on you. I liken it to Cheers because you walk in and everybody knows your name," he said.

He would like to recruit new members to Beethoven to be in the food line. He's working on getting more responses from newbies who check "food" on their membership applications. 

"It's our club and if we want our club to be around, then we need to take care of it."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Beethoven Fiesta Tradition Continues

The Fiesta tradition continues at Beethoven Maennerchor April 22-24 as the hall and garden are transformed into an even more colorful atmosphere as the club welcomes revelers to the grounds.

The three day Fiesta celebration is the club's second most popular time at Beethoven, coming in only behind the popular Oktoberfest in the fall, which spans two weekends. Fiesta is followed immediately by the 48th annual King William Fair from 9 a.m. til 6 p.m. Beethoven will open at noon that day.

The TubaMeisters(Richard, Ray, Ezra, & Al)
(Photo courtesy of polkabeat.com)
This year's Fiesta medal features composer Antonín Dvořák and will be sold for $8! Plenty of crowd-pleasing entertainment acts and Fiesta Royalty will grace Beethoven Wednesday through Friday. El Rey Feo will swing by on Wednesday, along with the Military Ambassadors from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force. The Beethoven Maennerchor will sing, and the Dance Band will play and give partiers their Fiesta fix! King Antonio will make an appearance on Thursday, as well as New Braunfel's Cloverleaf! On Friday, the Tuba Meisters will play, Beethoven Maennerchor will sing, and a great time will be had by all.

Beethoven is the most family friendly, cost effective Fiesta event in all of San Antonio! From the entertainment, mouth-watering food, and ticket sales as low as $5 at the gate, ($3 pre-sale and active military free) it doesn't get much better than Beethoven!

Besides, members of Beethoven have been cleaning, sanding, painting, gardening, and performing parking lot maintenance to get ready for everyone! Take some time this Fiesta to stop by Beethoven Maennerchor and bring friends and the family. You won't regret it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Anniversary Celebration


On Saturday, members from Beethoven Maennerchor, Damenchor and the band gathered to celebrate the past, present and future of the club, which turns 148 years old this year.

Beethoven Maennerchor president Claus Heide, and Damenchor president Kay Locker, offered remarks about the traditions and storied past of Beethoven. In addition to the people who've made Beethoven a second home for decades, they told audience members that the club will only survive with new members who vow to continue putting effort and work into the place.

The Maennerchor, Damenchor and band all performed, with each group leader recalling their respective organization's age. The band recognized its members for their involvement from five years to 35! The Damenchor also recognized its members, starting with five years. The Maennerchor only offers recognition at 25 and 50 years. We have one Maennerchor member who actually received both of those awards. Rudy Biedermann, who sings first bass in the choir, has been a part of Beethoven since the late 1940s!

Following the performances, everyone gathered in the club and Damenchor room to eat cake, drink punch or their favorite German beverage, and enjoy the fellowship of one another.

If you would like to join any of the programs at Beethoven Maennerchor, we welcome you and would be excited for you to become a member of the family! Applications can be found on the program's page. For membership in the Maennerchor or Damenchor, please fill out the form and return it to the club room in person. We also invite you to volunteer your time and talents preparing and serving food, working in the parking lot, helping with the gate or ticket booths, or any other aspect of the club. Contact us and we'll put you in touch with the right person!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fun in the Sun: Beethoven's March 14 Work Party

Larry Morales paints tables in the Garden on March 14, 2015
Beethoven members (and non-members alike!) met on Saturday, March 14 for the second work party of the year.

It's an important time at Beethoven Maennerchor as the club prepares for a few busy months, including one of the most important times of the year: Fiesta!

One of the ongoing tasks is to sand and paint the tables and benches in the Garden. They spend the year outside in all of the elements and to preserve the comfort of our guests, they must be sanded in order to prevent splintering. The tables aren't so much of a concern for splinters because they are covered during events. But the benches definitely need work. Maintenance and grounds committee chairman Walter Wilson got crew members like Maennerchor director David Wilson and volunteer Eric Stuart to sand as folks like Larry Morales spent time painting.

Meantime, Mike Gable raked up leaves that collect year-round along the perimeter of the fence. That's a huge task and clearing the leaves away makes a big difference in the appearance of the club. Bar committee chairman Melton Schultz (Coach) brought the weed killer to keep the overgrowth at bay. 

Board vice president Ken Weber and his crew made huge strides in getting the trees trimmed over at the parking lot. As Beethoven gets ready for the coming months, the parking lot is put to good use. Future plans for the parking area include adding base to the lot. Work could begin in just a few weeks on it, so stay tuned for announcements.

Back inside the Garden, Cindy Gable provided expertise with plants in making the rounds at the base of the trees look their best.

All in all, the work party was a success and plenty of tasks got done. But there is still more to do! We hope to see you at a future work party at Beethoven Maennerchor!