After three weeks of rehearsals with the Columbus Kinderchor, Ruby Kuck is enjoying her time with the children’s choir.
“It’s really crazy and silly sometimes – and I love it,” said the 4-year-old from east Columbus. “I know how to sing already and I’m almost learning how to whistle.”
The youth choir of the Columbus Maennerchor, a German singing society based at 976 S. High St. in Columbus’ Brewery District, is in the midst of celebrating der funfzigste – the 50th anniversary of its founding.
“We’ve been solidly, continuously singing at concerts since 1969,” said choir president Kerry Riggs, a Reynoldsburg resident.
The Kinderchor will join other Maennerchor choirs in a Dec. 1 concert in St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 684 S. Third St. in German Village.
The youth choir is for vocalists ages 3 to 18.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” said Ruedy Leeman, who serves on the board of directors of the Maennerchor. “You hear stories from a lot of members (here). It’s kind of like the lifeblood of the organization. And that’s a good thing.”
At its peak in the 1970s and ’80s, the choir had 50 members, Riggs said. Now it’s down to a dozen, which she attributes to the multitude of activities in which young people participate.
In addition, Maennerchor membership is scattered throughout the region, with some families living beyond Interstate 270, she said.
Riggs said her 13-year-old daughter, Ava, has been singing with the Kinderchor on and off since she was 3.
Her son, Isaac, has joined the Kinderchor for the latest session.
“I like the different sounds the (electric) piano makes,” said the 6-year-old Isaac.
Kerry Riggs’ sister, Meghan Lance, is music director.
Dues are $50 for each 10-week session. Singers of any skill level are welcome, Riggs said.
“We would always love to have more members,” she said. “I think the kids have a good time. We do a lot to celebrate culture, food and fellowship.”
Rehearsals are every Tuesday.
“We heavily focus on German singing,” said Riggs, 44. “We do some songs in English, but not a lot, and some other cultures, as well.”
Kathy Kildow of Upper Arlington remembers when she and her brother, Kevin, joined the Kinderchor in its infancy.
Kevin stayed for a full year but Kildow, 12 at the time, said she went to one rehearsal and realized the other singers were out of her deeper vocal range.
She joined the Dammenchor, the female choir, when she was 21 and is still a member at 63.
Kildow later directed the Kinderchor in the 1993-94 and 2001-02 seasons.
She said she has a fondness for the Kinderchor.
“It’s for any children who want to learn about German music, culture and language and all that, but it’s especially nice for children who have German heritage, and they can further understand their own heritage through Kinderchor,” Kildow said.
Werner Niehaus, president of the Maennerchor, said he sees the Kinderchor as the linchpin of the organization.
“The Kinderchor will be the future singers of the Maennerchor,” Niehaus said. “It always starts with the kids. I think it’s a very needed group of people.
“We are lucky we have many younger singers again, and some of them came out of the Kinderchor.”
For more information about Kinderchor, send an email to Riggs at email@example.com.