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    Posted January 4, 2013 by
    Leipzig, Germany

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    The "Thomana": An 800 YEAR Tradition


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beetraveler interviewed the St. Thomas Cantor and former members of the St. Thomas Boys Choir during the 2012 holiday season in Leipzig, Germany. She was inspired to share this story because of the longevity of the institution. 'I think it is incredible when an institution such as this survives into modern times... St. Thomas Church, School and Boys Choir were all established 800 years ago, in 1212, and have survived relatively uninterrupted, through multiple wars and even Germany's division,' she said.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    The St. Thomas Church, School and Choir was established in 1212.


    During the holidays, I had the great privilege of being able to interview the current St. Thomas Cantor (the 16th Cantor since Bach) as well as current and former members of the St. Thomas Boys Choir. I also had the opportunity to get a look behind the scenes of what it takes to prepare for their prestigious weekly performances.  The most anticipated performance of all though is the Christmas performance. Needless to say, I was delighted to be attending (and even allowed to film parts of) their Christmas performance during the choir's monumental 800th year. 


    2012 was a big year for everyone "Thomana" (the term that covers the triad of St. Thomas institutions --  church, school and choir). In addition to being its 800th year, it was the 20th year that Professor Georg Christoph Biller has served as Cantor (the 16th cantor since Bach himself). Coincidentally, Amarcord -- the international awarded vocal ensemble consisting of former St. Thomas Choir Boys -- celebrated its 20th year in 2012 as well.

    St. Thomas Church is also the final resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach. His epitaph is inside the church while a massive monument stands in front of the church. He served as Cantor at St. Thomas Church, conducting the St. Thomas Boys Choir (1723-1750) right up until his death and many of his most famous works were completed during his time in Leipzig.
    I spoke with Kerstin Wiese, Director of Leipzig's Bach Museum and Archive (across from the church). The Bach Museum is recognized internationally as the epicentre of the world's Bach research. Wiese also describes St, Thomas Church as the "centre of Bach's legacy," further stating that "when you think about St. Thomas Church and the St. Thomas Boys Choir, you must think about Bach. You can't have a closer connection than this."


    Few institutions can boast such a strong history as the world renowned St. Thomas Boys Choir. The St. Thomas church, school and choir have all survived 800 years -- while the city went through multiple monarchies and governments, wars and even Germany's division -- without any known periods of interruption.


    Having visited Leipzig, I'm amazed by its music culture which also includes Edvard Grieg, Felix Mendelssohn and Schumann.


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    All footage personally filmed, with permission to use in producing this iReport, including visuals and audio inside St. Thomas Church.

    amarcord members (as appearing left to right):


    • Wolfram Lattke (Tenor)
    • Daniel Knauft (Bass)
    • Frank Ozimek (Baritone)
    • Holger Krause (Bass)
    • missing from interview -- Martin Lattke (Tenor)
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