Neither the Columbus Maennerchor nor the Bergsteigerchor from Dresden, Germany, was created specifically as a singing organization, but "singing is a very old tradition for Germans, so it grew pretty naturally," Maennerchor president Werner Niehaus, told The Beat.

Neither the Columbus Maennerchor nor the Bergsteigerchor from Dresden, Germany, was created specifically as a singing organization, but "singing is a very old tradition for Germans, so it grew pretty naturally," Maennerchor president Werner Niehaus, told The Beat.

The Maennerchor began in 1848 as a group of German immigrants gathered in what is now the German Village area to sing folk songs from their native country. It is now the oldest continuous German singing group in the United States, and also features a women's group (Damenchor) and children's group (Kinderchor) as part of its singing family.

Niehaus said some members of the chorus have been with the group for 50 years. He called the group "a bunch of good people who like to sing and have a lot of fun."

The Bergsteigerchor, which will make its third appearance in Columbus, began in 1927 as a group of mountain climbers who also liked to sing. Its history includes resistance efforts during World War II (as mountain climbers, members used their knowledge to help Jews and others escape the country and Nazi oppression) and success on stage as well, most recently winning the 2007 Grand Prix Singing Championship.

An ongoing relationship between the two choruses, begun in the 1990s and including trips by both groups to the other's hometown, led to the creation of a sister city partnership between Columbus and Dresden.
And because each group has a unique approach to German folk singing, "We have learned a lot from each other," Niehaus said.

The concert will include, of course, German folk songs, as well as some classical selections and a massed-choir grand finale.

The Columbus Maennerchor will celebrate its 160th anniversary with a concert featuring the Bergsteigerchor of Dresden, Germany, as well as its own Maennerchor, Damenchor and Kinderchor, Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Fort Hayes Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.