Die Goldvögel - Welch ein Fest

Welch ein Fest - What A Party

Water colour by Dorte Klingberg-Nielsen
1 Dcember, first Sunday of Advent is this year also the international World AIDS Day. On this day the many people who over the last 30 years died of AIDS are remembered. In churches and in bars there will be prayers and wishes for healing and for a future without HIV and AIDS. In the Marienkirche in Berlin there will be a world premiere of a new Christmas Oratorio Welch ein Fest which at the same time marks the debut of a new ensemble Die Goldvögel. All income will go to the church's AIDS work through the organisation KIRCHE positHiv. on 3,4 and 5 December, a secular version of Welch ein Fest will be premiered in LiteraturHaus in Copenhagen. 20 % of the income will go to the Danish AIDS Foundation.
 
Die Goldvögel consists of four gentlemen from four corners of the world who all have found a nest in Berlin. American contertenor Daniel Gundlach, Danish tenor Mads Elung-Jensen, Greek bariton Athanasios Pogkas and German accordionist and singer Dirk Rave

Here my Christmas fairy tale, telling the background of Die Goldvögel and Welch ein Fest

Welch ein Fest - A Christmas Fairy Tale

By The Good Old Tenor


It was a cold December night. The good old tenor was sitting in his apartment on the 11th floor in Berlin overlooking the city's snow-covered roofs. The windows all faced south, so even if he could see very far, it would have been impossible to see all the way to his old viking country, where his huge family, friends and colleagues lived. It was hot enough in the flat and he had absolutely found so many good new friends in Berlin, yet he still loved all those that he had known for a such a long time, and suddenly they all seemed very far away.

 

Instead of looking outside, he tried look inside, and behold, in his heart they were all with him, as alive as if they were sitting in the room with him. Even his dear old grandmother who had passed on long ago, was sitting there smiling at him. He was filled by a warm quiet feeling, happily greeting all his dear ones as they appeared to him. In the quiet, he heard the most enchanting sound of crisp male voices. He focused in on the sound of his inner channel a bit more and realized that it was nothing less than the great Christmas Medley from Three Tenors, the group that he had left when he travelled abroad, and which had gone dormant.

 

The various pieces in the medley were, he thought, at the same time some the most beautiful and funniest pieces of music, that he had ever had the pleasure of singing. The smooth voices cheekily touched each other in close unexpected harmonies, swinging away from each other, at certain times ethereally calm, at others fast and joyful, and in selected places spiced with strong masculine testosterone. The familiar Christmas pieces followed each other and he chuckled at the audience's joy of being surprised by something they knew so well, heard in a totally unexpected context. When the three voices at last met up in a warm triad, the audience burst into enthusiastic all-encompassing applause. Now it really felt like Christmas!

 

Ah, Christmas, the good old tenor thought, the time when so many hearts are longing. All year long, you can shut so many emotions away, but when that first Advent candle is lit, the inner child insists on coming out to play. Yet how often is it disappointed. Even worse, some people shut the inner child out in particularly harsh ways, expecting nothing but sorrow and conflict in this sweet time. The tenor himself had always felt happiest when he was able to sing his way through the entire Christmas season. The songs, the texts and the music were for him the essence of Christmas joy.

 

His thoughts flowed on and he found himself thinking of times past here in Berlin. So much had happened. A long time of sickness had finally ended, his physical energy had returned and he almost burst with joy of life and wanting to work and create. Though he never wanted to live through it again, in a strange way he was filled with gratitude for the time that he had been ill. ”Only a coward dares not ask for help!” he had read somewhere, and this sentence had filled him from the first with wonder and then with claríty. If, because of fear of rejection, he refused to ask other people for help, did not dare open his heart to his nearest and dearest, then he was indeed like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

 

His finest hours had always come when he was helping others, something which had always come very easily to him. So why should it be so different to ask for help himself. He had thought to himself, oh well, you good old tenor, you have always loved to play; let’s play a game. Let’s turn it all around and say that perhaps every time you found joy in helping others, finding your most beautiful sides, your charity and compassion, perhaps you were helping yourself as well. Now help them by letting them help you... How funny, he thought. Let me begin with requests for small things; then if the answer is no, I won’t be so upset that I just give up. And I’m not really asking for all that much. Sometimes it's enough just to know that those that I love are thinking of me and sending good vishes.

 

But... if I am going to be weak and on disability insurance, with no extra money for a long time, I will actually need practical help as well. How can you ask friends for financial help when you’re not sure when, or even if, you’ll be able to pay them back, he asked himself, shivering. Well, listen, how did you respond in the past when your friends asked for similar things? You never gave more than you were prepared to lose, and besides, your friends were always more important to you than money. Maybe when you ask them, they’ll feel the same way. So he did ask here and there, about this and that. Many said yes, some said no, which was exactly as it should be, he also himself sometimes said no, if he thought his friends were asking for something inappropriate, or if he himself were not willing or able to grant their request. So, it actually was as easy as that. How strange. In this way he played his way through his sickness, and rejoiced in all the people whom, by helping him, were also helping themselves.

 

Actually, it felt quite a bit better to be fit and healthy. There were so many other ways of having fun. And then in a flash it came to him what he wanted to do: I shall start a new ensemble and write a Christmas Oratorio. Our Chrismas medley will be the starting point and the rest will fall into place. I’ll help others and they’ll help me in return; I shall write texts and poems and sing with good colleagues, which I'll find somehow. How wonderful! What a party! He laughted to himself.That’s it: my Christmas Oratorio shall be called What A Party. And all through the springtime, he came up with ideas and shared them with the wisest and warmest heads and hearts of Berlin. Will you help me? He asked writers, preachers, publishers, graphic artists, photographers, composers; they all thought about it, and they all said yes. Nobody got paid anything, but what a party they had doing it! That way will work only this year he thought, but this year it will!

 

He had been sick; in fact, he was still carrying a chronic disease that they called HIV. Though he had had it for nearly 30 years, he usually didn’t think about it all that much, but he certainly could remember how sad he had once been. In those dark hours, when he hadn’t been able cope as well as he did now, he had found so much comfort in music. And he certainly knew that for many others it was much harder to deal with than it was now for himself. If this new disease, Hepatitis C, – a liver disease which reminded him so much of AIDS in the bad old days, and which had finally left his system – if this disease should have any meaning for me, he thought, it will help me even more to help others who carry more sorrow and fear in their hearts than usual during the Christmas season.

 

He planned it so that What A Party should have its World Premiere on World AIDS Day itself, which in this year would also be the first Sunday of Advent, the festival of candles. In the Marienkirche in Berlin. All income would go to the Church's volunatary AIDS work. Following this, they would continue on to do three performances in Copenhagen where 20% of the proceeds would go the the work of the Danish AIDS Foundation. Then he also organised a secular Christmas Party Concert for those who didn’t feel comfortable celebrating at their homes. ”Celebrate Christmas with your logical family before your biological one demands your attendance ” was his slogan for this concert. Entrance will be cheap, but here everything we make there will go back to ourselves. In that way we on a whole donate ourselves what is suitable, and maybe someday soon I'll even be able to pay my bills myself.

 

He didn’t recruit the other performers so much as letting them come to him. An American countertenor; a Greek baritone; a German accordionist, composer, arranger and singer: good-natured guys full of music with hearts in the right place: from all corners of the world they had all ended up together here in Berlin. An artist friend of his mother's had given him a piece of her art, a watercolor of four singing golden birds. The Golden Birds. Die Goldvögel: that will be our name, he said to himself. There was no other group with such a name in Germany. But he found a novel by a young writer named David Perteck entitled In the Magical Circle of the Demons, in which the Golden Birds were the most powerful fighters against the forces of evil. What could be more appropriate, he thought, since that’s exactly what our singing is all about.

 

Laugther and tears are both stored in the diaphragm. On the way to our hearts we gently touch and caress those feelings within ourselves and from thence to our audience as well. Another idea came to him What A Party we call it. There is a Danish song, called What a Party. He found out that in German it was called Schöne Maid and that the tune really was a Tahitian folk melody. I'll write a new text, make it into a crazy hymn. He laughed again. Pure nonsense is like pure champagne. And he wrote.

 

Welch ein Fest

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujaAmen

 

Gott gab die Macht zum Kind vom Geiste gebracht

sie singen HallelujaAmen

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujaAmen

 

Hirten erwacht von Engeln oben mit Pracht

sie jubeln HallelujAmen

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujaAmen

 

Eilen wir sacht das Kind ward eben gebracht

sprich leise HallelujaAmen!

 

In einem Stall so klein

sass eine Jungfrau rein

im Bauch ein Kindelein

die Herberg sagte nein

 

die Krippe war nicht weit von hier

und plötzlich sagte Christ zu ihr:

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujaAmen

 

Es war gedacht das wir zusammen gelacht

so singe HallelujaAmen

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujAmen

 

Es gibt eine Pacht, die Sünden nehm ich, gib Acht

mit einem HallelujaAmen

 

Welch ein Fest feiern wir heute Nacht

HallelujaAmen

 

Wunder vollbracht, der Tod ist tot heute Nacht

so singe HallelujaAmen!!