Harmony, German Style

The singers at the Denver Turnverein tell the story of a people, a country and a beautiful form of music.

This attention to detail should be apparent to everyone who attends the upcoming Liederabend festival, scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 22, at the Turnverein (call 831-9717 for more information). The Gesangverein headlines this annual fall concert, but there will also be a sing-along session in which the public is invited to participate, as well as beer, bratwurst and a polka dance starring Ron Eckharts' Dutch Hop Music Makers. The following week, the Turnverein hosts a fundraiser featuring a dozen local rock bands in the main hall and the Arion Gesangverein in the Rathskellar. The event is part of an ongoing fundraising effort now under way at the Turnverein; if the group raises $25,000, that sum will be matched by $75,000 from the Colorado Historical Society, which is assisting in funding the restoration of the Turnverein's unique facility.

The Historical Society's efforts give the Gesangverein singers hope for the future, and so does the improvement in the Turnverein's neighborhood, which Buckley credits in large part to the opening of a new police station a block away. "Before they got here, there was a lot more prostitution and drug dealing going on right outside our door," he says. "But I don't see that stuff anymore." Likewise, nearby commercial development leads Buckley to believe that "we can start bringing people back." This process has already begun; Turnverein membership has tripled in the last three years.

The association's most valuable assets in this quest are the music of the Gesangverein and the loyalty of its members. "The reward I get out of this is the appreciation of the people who come to listen to us sing," Lawson says. "And I feel I'm a part of creating something that's unique. Sometimes I grouse about coming down here, especially if the weather gets bad. But I never leave here without feeling buoyed up by the experience of the singing and the friendship. It's an emotional boost for my week. For me, singing here is a tonic for my soul.

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