Friday, November 27, 2015

Ring In 2016 At Beethoven!

Friends, where has the time gone?

With Thanksgiving past us, we want to say a special thank you for everyone who contributes to Beethoven Maennerchor. It is a true community of friends that make the club a vital part of San Antonio.

New Year's is on the way and we'd like to announce the details.

This year, we thought we'd hold our annual New Year's Eve party on Dec. 27 instead. That way everyone can enjoy a nice evening in on New Year's Eve and start the year fresh.

KIDDING. No, New Year's Eve at Beethoven will be better than ever with a ton of entertainment, food, fun, and of course a champagne toast at midnight!

It all gets underway on DECEMBER 31 at 9 p.m. Admission is $25. Bring a snack to share and enjoy party favors and a midnight toast.

Raggedy Cats will play us into 2016 as partygoers get down with their bad selves.

Tickets can be obtained in the clubroom. Tuesdays are a great time to come by and get them - then you can enjoy a member's night beverage and get your tickets all in one trip.

2016 is just around the corner. Let's finish 2015 strong!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Claus Connection

Beethoven's schedule of events continue strong during these final months of the year. 

Even as members reflect on the dozens of get-togethers, birthday celebrations, large gatherings and the small, the calendar of upcoming commitments is unforgiving.

Claus Heide, president of Beethoven Maennerchor, said he is grateful to the scores of volunteers, members and guests who made 2015 what it was.

"The First Fridays, Gartenfests, Fiesta and Oktoberfests were well-received and crowd-pleasing," Heide said.

Next up will be the annual ceremony commemorating those German soldiers who fought in World War II and are buried at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. Named Volkstrauertag, the commemoration this year will be special with American and German guests, including military officials and state leaders.

"A brass quintet will accompany the choir's solemn and cherished songs," Heide said. "We will also welcome a host of dignitaries from the United States and German militaries."

In attendance will be Lt. General Perry L. Wiggins, Commanding General, U.S. Army North, Brigadier General Dirk H. Backen, Defense Attache, German Army, and Nina Petrow, the new Honorary Consul, Federal Republic of Germany, and Ben Buecker.

Volkstrauertag is a public holiday in Germany that occurs two Sundays before the first day of Advent. Held to honor those who died in armed conflicts, or as the victims of violent oppression, the event was first observed in its modern form in 1952.

The last of the First Friday events that Beethoven will host in 2015 will take place on Dec. 4. Entry to the event is $5, with members of the military with an ID, those under the age of 18, and Beethoven members, enjoying free admission. The Beethoven Dance Band will open. Austin rock/pop band Wrenfro will follow with a crowd-pleasing set.

Then it's on to a Beethoven favorite: Kristkindlmarkt, a time visitors can peruse things like knick-knacks and steins to stuff in their loved ones' Christmas stockings! The Beethoven choirs will create a festive atmosphere while vendors and shoppers get in the Christmas spirit.

Throughout the season, the choirs will also be performing their well-rehearsed Christmas songs at various sites around town. Some of them include a performance at the Menger Hotel on Dec. 8 at 7:30; the 111th Deutsche Weihnachtsfeier at Trinity University at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13 at Margarite Parker Chapel; and a river barge concert along the San Antonio River on Dec. 15.

"All of these are wonderful opportunities for Beethoven's choirs to showcase their talents to people in our community, while at the same time spreading the spirit of the season and helping people understand what Beethoven is," said Heide. "One of my favorites is Weihnachtsfeier, a Christmas candlelight service that's held completely in German. The music is extraordinarily meaningful, even if you don't speak German! You will recognize many of the pieces, and even hear a few you don't know."

The events are coming fast. Email us if you have any questions about any of the events. We'd love for you to take part!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Musical Whimsy of Beethoven Accompanist Jane May

Jane May has always been musical.

The Beethoven Maennerchor accompanist began playing the piano around the age of 5, although she said she begged her parents to start playing before that -- but they just didn't let her.

Once she got going, nothing could stop her. 

May holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, and had a distinguished career in music education at Northeast ISD in San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

She's taught piano, sang in church choirs, and plays for a Lutheran church. 

"I've done music always," May said.

On coming to Beethoven

May is no stranger to Beethoven. She's played in the band for 15 years.

One particular evening changed things and directed May to the men's choir, which was in need of an accompanist.

"One night I was talking to Claus (Heide) and he said, 'Are you interested in accompanying?' I said, "That's what I like to do.'"

And the rest is history.

She said she finds the gig both challenging and rewarding.

The harder parts of the job include translating the tenor parts on the fly, which are written an octave higher.

"You have to transpose the tenor parts down an octave and that throws me still," she said. 

Luckily she finds the rewards outweigh the challenges.

"It's fun to hear you all sing," she said. "I enjoy working with David (Nelson). He does a really nice job. You have fun while you're doing it."

As if music didn't keep her busy enough, she's always on the road or in the air to see her family. May has two grown children and six grandchildren. Her son and his family live in Utah, where she tries to visit them twice a year. Her daughter and her family live in Floresville. She admits she puts a lot of miles on her car driving south often to see the Texas-based family.

A family thing

May said once upon her time, her daughter had volunteered her to play in a band in Floresville. They needed a bell player!

"She said, 'My mother can do that!'" May recalled. Not having played the bells before, May was unsure of the opportunity.

But her daughter quickly countered the skepticism, saying it's just like the keyboard.

They also played in the Beethoven band for quite some time together. May can still be spotted in the garten with the band.

Creative whimsy, as well as musical

May contributes to Beethoven in more ways than making the notes on a page come alive. This year, in particular, May built several dollhouses (one was even a log cabin house!) that were raffled off during Oktoberfest. 

May decided she wanted the proceeds to help fund the Bowling Alley restoration project.

There's no telling what artistic gem she has up her sleeve for the future. But you can bet she'll be having fun and keeping the Maennerchor on key doing what she loves doing - playing the piano.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

First Friday Fee Increase

In an effort to streamline suggested donation prices at the gate, the Beethoven board of directors voted to increase the First Friday entry to $5.

The increase in price matches other popular Beethoven events such as Gartenfest, Fiesta and Oktoberfest.

"A fee increase hasn't happened since Beethoven first began hosting First Friday events nearly 20 years ago," said Vice President Ken Weber. "The new fee for First Friday will align the suggested donation for our patrons to hopefully make it easier to pay. But it will also contribute to the overall operation to ensure the organization is positioned for future success."

Pre-sale tickets will still be available at the bar the week before the event for $3. Active duty military with ID and children under 18, as well as club members, enjoy free entry. For information on how to become a member, visit the Beethoven program page. There, you will find links to the Damenchor, Maennerchor and Kinderchor. Instructions on joining are on each page.

"First Friday is the perfect chance to experience Beethoven, especially for those who have never been. The crowds are always friendly and evenings are always fun," Weber said. "We believe Beethoven adds to the rich and unique characteristics of Southtown and look forward to welcoming friends back time and again."

The increase will take effect beginning with First Friday on Nov. 6.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Oktoberfest In The Books

Volunteers spend hours on the food line serving thousands of visitors to Beethoven during the two-weekend Oktoberfest celebration. (Photo courtesy Gabby Mata, San Antonio Current)
San Antonio became a little more German over the past two weekends. That's because Beethoven Maennerchor drew thousands of visitors from all over the state to the hall and garten for its traditional - and exceptionally unique - Oktoberfest!

Beethoven's own Maennerchor, Damenchor, Kinderchor, and Concert Band helped put people in the Oktoberfest spirit. But they also had help from the Fire on the Mountain Cloggers, the UTSA Tuba Quartet, the Beethoven Dance Band, and the ever-popular Sing-Alongs that feature the choirs and the crowd singing traditional German songs together. 

The four-night celebration, which got underway Oct. 2 with KSAT's Adam Caskey trying his hand again at the tapping of the keg, which turned the Beethoven garten into a a magical place where friends and family joined together to celebrate their bonds and make new ones. The difficult tapping was not Adam's fault. A piece of metal held the beer in. Adam gave it a valiant effort!

"That's what it's all about," said Ken Weber, vice president of the Beethoven Maennerchor. "Songs, tradition, families, food and friends bring people back year after year."

Beethoven is a place that tends to do that to people. This fall festival isn't the only time, or reason, people come around. It's a year-round club that performs service in the community, participates in numerous Sängerfests throughout the region, state, and across the nation, and gives back to the public through cultural outreach.

Though, none of that would happen were it not for the weekly practices and fellowship that Beethoven members hold sacred. Each Tuesday, on member night, men, women and children come to the club to rehearse their music, talk and plan upcoming events, and develop lasting relationships.

"It's extremely satisfying to watch people hold onto their heritage in such an active way," said Mark Trevino, a member and publicity committee spokesperson. "This place exists because of the heritage aspect. But it doesn't stop at that. Members here preserve their past by showing up every week and doing the work it takes to keep Beethoven running," Trevino said.

People came from all over the state, and the nation, to experience Oktoberfest as only Beethoven can provide.

Lisa Soper found Beethoven five years ago through the website. She lives in the Texas panhandle.

"We came, had a great time, and we're back this year," she said excitedly. "When we do have a chance to have a vacation, this is where we come."

Soper brings her whole family to Beethoven. She said she chooses Beethoven over other similar events because of the atmosphere, and because the crowd is friendly and minds their manners. And she loves the ending to the popular "Ein Prosit."

"Everybody was screaming Ziggy Zaggy Ziggy Zaggy, Oi, Oi, Oi!" Soper said.

Although Oktoberfest is over, check out the Beethoven Facebook page for photos and the San Antonio Current's slideshow of Oktoberfest. A full list of fall activities is on the horizon as the year enters its last few months. 

Come on down to the hall anytime. Plenty of folks will be happy to tell you: Guten Tag!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oktoberfest Kicks Off, One More Weekend Of Fun To Come!

An authentic German Oktoberfest experience is like no other you will experience in San Antonio and surrounding areas. At Beethoven Maennerchor, it's always a good time. This year didn't disappoint.

Festivities got underway Friday evening with the tapping of the keg by KSAT TV's Adam Caskey! Once the beer was flowing, visitors took part in the delicious and traditional food offerings by Beethoven's own kitchen staff. 

They also heard from Beethoven's Damenchor, or women's choir, the Kinderchor, or children's choir, and the Maennerchor, the men's choir. 

Of course, San Antonio media showed their love for the city's German heritage. KENS' Eileen Teves and photojournalist Dario Ramos (photo right) came out to preview Oktoberfest with the gang in the garten on Wednesday, KSAT's Adam Caskey reported from Beethoven and gave a great forecast for the weekend, and the San Antonio Current helped spread the word on social media and their website about the great events taking place! We would like to express our appreciation to all for the publicity. We are excited to share German culture, heritage and preservation with San Antonians and visitors.

Arlyn Maloy, Beethoven board member, shows his spirit
with his lederhosen and steins. Photo by Gabby Mata, San Antonio Current
But of course the fun doesn't stop there.

There's still another weekend of Oktoberfest to come, more memories to be made, and more food, fun and entertainment!

Come out to Beethoven Maennerchor, 422 Pereida, Oct. 9th and 10th from 5 p.m. 'til midnight. A donation of $5 at the gate is requested.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

German Classes

It's that time of year again -- time to learn German.

In addition to programs within Beethoven that consists of the choirs, there are German-language classes that take place adjacent to the Beethoven facilities within the Beethoven Museum.

The program runs 12 weeks. Students are encouraged to contact the professor or simply fill out the registration information, and find out the schedule, which can be found here.

It's still early and there's still time to participate.