ALZEY-WORMS – Thorsten Muhlberger is the director of several choirs in the region, including Alsheim and Florsheim-Dalsheim, he is a pianist and piano teacher, and also district choir director of the district choir association Worms. As such, he is usually very busy: rehearsals on weekdays, concerts and performances on weekends. Until the coronavirus came.
Because this has thrown everything over the top: rehearsals have not been taking place for a good three weeks, concerts have been cancelled overnight. And not just those in the coming weeks, but already some in June and July says Muhlberger: “Because the choirs cannot rehearse until then, and with three rehearsals to prepare, a concert is difficult.” Should the situation relax soon, the first concerts would probably only take place again in autumn, he estimates. Compared to many colleagues who are having a hard time as a freelance artist, he is still comparatively well, he says.
His choirs continued to pay the fee, for which he was very grateful. On the other hand, the income from concerts is of course lost.
For him, who has been leading choirs since 2002, this is probably the longest time without rehearsals that he has had since, says the thoroughbred musician – even during the summer holidays, not everything stands still. So an alternative was needed. And Muhlberger, like many of them, found this in the possibilities of the Internet. “It is my daily bread that I offer people a balance to everyday life,” he says, “I am doing the same now.”
So he set up the cell phone camera in his music room, sat in front of the piano and recorded short videos. “It is about my tenth or 15th attempt and I hope that I can get through now,” he jokes in one of the videos – not so easy not to make any mistakes in front of the camera. He usually has no problem standing in front of 50 people every night and talking, he reveals on the phone, but he’s usually not used to this in front of a cell phone camera. “But you know: practice, practice, practice,” he says in the video and laughs. Just like singing. With his online courses, Muhlberger did not continue where he had stopped before the compulsory break with the choirs. Instead, he reverted to an old arrangement that he wrote in 2016 based on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and which now fell into his hands again. At that time the piece was performed as part of the “Worms Choir of Choirs” in front of the cathedral – now the singers practice it for themselves at home. Muhlberger has recorded individual videos for tenor, alto, soprano and bass, in which he sings and plays certain passages to the choir members.
Vocal training videos
In the near future, more videos with exercises for voice training and body percussion will follow. “So that the voices don’t rust,” says Muhlberger. He is already thinking beyond the time of the corona quarantine: Maybe at some point, there will be the opportunity to bring his choirs together and have the piece performed again? “But that’s still in the stars.”
At his idea, he received a lot of feedback via email – many choir members are grateful for the videos because they miss the rehearsals. Thorsten Muhlberger misses her too. “It’s a real energy exchange that usually takes place there,” he describes, “People come to the rehearsal after work, are stressed and tense, and usually go home in a good mood. That also carries over to me. ”He says he lacks singing together.