HISTORY OF THE CHOIR

On 22 March 1924 the time had finally come. Erich vom Baur, the 27-year-old choir director, founded the Elberfelder Kurrende with 80 boys and 17 men. Wuppertal was founded five years later as an amalgamation of several cities. Already since 1921, von Baur had built up a string orchestra and a youth choir in the CVJM Bergstraße with great musical, pedagogical and organisational skills. This formed the basis for the new Elberfelder Kurrende. The Kurrende sang the first public concert on 8 April 1924 in the Elberfelder Stadthalle. In addition, the so-called Singumgänge played a central role at an early stage, with his choir vom Baur visited the elderly and the sick and gave this consolation through music. This is also the origin of the name of the Kurrende: from the Latin currere, to run in German. Thanks above all to the tireless efforts of Erich vom Baur, the Kurrende developed very successfully in the first years. After only two years, the choir’s Christmas concerts were very popular throughout the future Wuppertal city area and on several hundred singing tours the needy were given gifts. Since 1932 there were even first own premises in the Herzogstraße, and on Palm Sunday 1933 the Kurrende performed the St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach for the first time.

The takeover of power by the National Socialists did not remain without consequences for the Kurrende. Although the Kurrende’s independence from the Hitler Youth could officially be maintained as a “Ensign Kurrende”, organizational and psychological pressure could not completely ward off its seizure. In June 1943, the Kurrendeheim in Herzogstraße was bombed with its entire inventory, but Erich vom Baur was not discouraged by this either: after the summer holidays, he began rehearsing in his private apartment again – initially with just eight boys. After the war, the reconstruction of the Kurrende also began, and in 1948 the choir counted 160 active Kurrendans again. Since members and concert visitors came from all over the valley, the choir was officially renamed “Wuppertaler Kurrende” one year later. The choir was quickly able to resume its earlier successes. In 1954 the Kurrende could finally call its own home in Deweerthstraße its own again and the tradition of summer recreation was established: every year the singers go on their summer holidays together. Since Erich vom Baur fell seriously ill in the following years, Franz Schneider from Dresden took over as choir director in 1959. Over the next eleven years, he succeeded in keeping the work of the Kurrende at a high level: not only musically, but also with the construction of a new, larger Kurrendeheim in Mozartstraße in 1967 – the home of the Wuppertal Kurrende to this day.

The takeover of power by the National Socialists did not remain without consequences for the Kurrende. Although the Kurrende’s independence from the Hitler Youth could officially be maintained as a “Ensign Kurrende”, organizational and psychological pressure could not completely ward off its seizure. In June 1943, the Kurrendeheim in Herzogstraße was bombed with its entire inventory, but Erich vom Baur was not discouraged by this either: after the summer holidays, he began rehearsing in his private apartment again – initially with just eight boys. After the war, the reconstruction of the Kurrende also began, and in 1948 the choir counted 160 active Kurrendans again. Since members and concert visitors came from all over the valley, the choir was officially renamed “Wuppertaler Kurrende” one year later. The choir was quickly able to resume its earlier successes. In 1954 the Kurrende could finally call its own home in Deweerthstraße its own again and the tradition of summer recreation was established: every year the singers go on their summer holidays together. Since Erich vom Baur fell seriously ill in the following years, Franz Schneider from Dresden took over as choir director in 1959. Over the next eleven years, he succeeded in keeping the work of the Kurrende at a high level: not only musically, but also with the construction of a new, larger Kurrendeheim in Mozartstraße in 1967 – the home of the Wuppertal Kurrende to this day.

From 1970 the young Hamburg cantor Heinrich Stolte der Kurrende was in charge. He followed in the footsteps of Franz Schneider by differentiating the Kurrende’s musical training offerings with special, age-appropriate preliminary choirs. Special concert tours abroad were a remarkable and attractive innovation at the time. Preliminary highlights here were the USA tours in 1974 and 1978. In 1979 the then director of the Laubacher Kantorei, Dr. Heinz Rudolf Meier, took over the musical direction of the choir. He was to shape the Kurrende for the next 27 years. Not only did he preserve the musical quality of his predecessors, but he also devoted himself to the social and charitable thoughts of the Kurrende. Numerous highlights marked this long era, such as the two GDR tours in 1984 and 1989, the joint performances of the St. Matthew Passion with the Essen Cathedral Boys’ Choirs and the first victory in the category Boys’ Choirs at the German Federal Choir Competition in 1998.

After the retirement of Dr. Heinz Rudolf Meier, Martin Lehmann became the new head of the Kurrende in 2006. After only a few months together, the Wuppertal Kurrende won the category boys’ choirs with him for the second time at the Bundeschorwettbewerb in Kiel. In addition to the numerous concerts and other performances, the highlights of these years include participation in productions of the Wuppertal Opera, the joint project “Celebrating Handel” with the WDR Big Band and a recent tour of the USA in 2010. In 2012 Martin Lehmann took over the direction of the renowned Windsbacher Knabenchor. His successor in Wuppertal was Dietrich Modersohn. In 2014 he was in office for the 90th anniversary of the Kurrende, which was celebrated with a performance of Haydn’s “Creation” together with the symphony orchestra in the Stadthalle. The Kurrende also travelled to England again in 2012. After the farewell of Dietrich Modersohn the former Kurrendaner Stephan Hensen became interim conductor of the choir. Under his direction the Kurrende went on tour to East Germany and Poland. Since June 2017, the Wuppertal Kurrende has been conducted by Markus Teutschbein, who previously conducted the boys’ choirs in Basel and Suhl. In autumn 2017 he led the male choir to the German Landeschorwettbewerb Nordrhein-Westfalen, where the male choir emerged as the winner in the category “male choirs up to 32 participants”. The male choir of the Kurrende then represented the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia at the German Choir Competition in Freiburg in May 2018 and took part there “with great success”. In 2018 Teutschbein also caused a furore with the Kurrende with Bach’s St. John Passion in his first Passion Concerto. In addition, an autumn tour took the Kurrende to northern Germany and Denmark. The 2019 programme includes performances of Mozart’s Requiem, participation in the community opera “Das Labyrinth” at the Wuppertal Bühnen and a concert tour to France and Switzerland.

After the retirement of Dr. Heinz Rudolf Meier, Martin Lehmann became the new head of the Kurrende in 2006. After only a few months together, the Wuppertal Kurrende won the category boys’ choirs with him for the second time at the Bundeschorwettbewerb in Kiel. In addition to the numerous concerts and other performances, the highlights of these years include participation in productions of the Wuppertal Opera, the joint project “Celebrating Handel” with the WDR Big Band and a recent tour of the USA in 2010. In 2012 Martin Lehmann took over the direction of the renowned Windsbacher Knabenchor. His successor in Wuppertal was Dietrich Modersohn. In 2014 he was in office for the 90th anniversary of the Kurrende, which was celebrated with a performance of Haydn’s “Creation” together with the symphony orchestra in the Stadthalle. The Kurrende also travelled to England again in 2012. After the farewell of Dietrich Modersohn the former Kurrendaner Stephan Hensen became interim conductor of the choir. Under his direction the Kurrende went on tour to East Germany and Poland. Since June 2017, the Wuppertal Kurrende has been conducted by Markus Teutschbein, who previously conducted the boys’ choirs in Basel and Suhl. In autumn 2017 he led the male choir to the German Landeschorwettbewerb Nordrhein-Westfalen, where the male choir emerged as the winner in the category “male choirs up to 32 participants”. The male choir of the Kurrende then represented the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia at the German Choir Competition in Freiburg in May 2018 and took part there “with great success”. In 2018 Teutschbein also caused a furore with the Kurrende with Bach’s St. John Passion in his first Passion Concerto. In addition, an autumn tour took the Kurrende to northern Germany and Denmark. The 2019 programme includes performances of Mozart’s Requiem, participation in the community opera “Das Labyrinth” at the Wuppertal Bühnen and a concert tour to France and Switzerland.

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