Amarcord in the Adelaide Advertiser

Echo of the past
Tim Lloyd, Adelaide Advertiser
12 July 2012

Amarcord’s influences are from a bygone era

Amarcord is not just a product of the famed Leipzig Boys Choir, but also of East Germany, and the a capella quintet concedes that might be a subtle influence in its music and style. Amarcord is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so its five members grew up in a pre-1990 German unification era. Tenor Wolfram Lattke said he hadn’t thought about it before, but he wondered if the chemistry of the group comes out of the experience of being in the GDR, as he calls the former East Germany.

“We still know how much bananas meant to us and we still appreciate the little things,” he said. He said their cherished memories include shopping at the West German (foreign currency) store in Leipzig, where small change was given in the form of West German chocolates a rare treat in the mostly empty shops of the GDR.

Some young boys who joined Liepzig’s St Thomas Church Boys Choir had a the musical background. “In those days, when the choir was in the GDR, it was also a privilege to be in the choir, to have a very good education and to be able to travel,” said Lattke. The boys liked to sing a repertoire away from their St Thomas Church diet of sacred music and the music of JS Bach, so they tended to form groups of their own to follow their own interests. “Out of this came a bunch of people who were looking to do it a little more professionally, and that was how Amarcord was created,” said Lattke.

The group initially pursued their own careers and sang for enjoyment and to make money in a more pleasant way than, for example, waiting tables. The group included doctors, an expert in the culture of the German Romantic period, and a couple, like Lattke, who were pursuing musical training in voice. By good luck one of the doctors who is still with today’s quintet trained as an ear, nose and throat specialist; ideal company for singers on a long international tour.

Amarcord has only once been to Australia, and that was a Goethe Institute sponsored visit to Melbourne and Sydney, so the forthcoming Musica Viva tour will be their first proper exploration of Australia. Amarcord perform everything, from a newly completed recording to Gregorian Chant, through the Romantic period and on into contemporary composers, such as James McMillan and Leipzig’s own rising star, Bernd Franke.

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