Zug, 28.11.2022

Chor Zug focussing on the stories behind the songs

Choir members told touching experiences from their lives – matching the songs being sung. The audience in the Steinhausen community hall rewarded the original idea with standing ovations.

"There was this girl in the front row, her face completely expressionless," recalls a member of Chor Zug as he took a seat on the insanely comfortable-looking wing chair on the stage. "But during our concert, she suddenly thawed – her face began to glow!" A few days after that performance in a clinic, the singer saw a missing person report in the newspaper. He remembered the girl, and assumed the worst. "Her shining face, that will stay with me – always." The choir then sings the song "Always" by Gavin Wigglesworth and Oliver Green.

It takes courage to deal with the tragic sides of life as a pop and rock choir. All the more so when the choir members dare to tell personal stories from their own lives – matching the hits sung last Friday evening in the Steinhausen Gemeindesaal (community hall). The motto of this year's concert was the same as that of the opening song: "Story Of My Life" by the band One Direction.

Texts move to the foreground
"I've been carrying the idea with me for more than 20 years," said choirmaster Christof Tschudi after the concert. "I have the feeling that, in Switzerland, we often pay more attention to the music than to the lyrics when it comes to songs in the English language." Once, when he was translating the lyrics at a concert, an elderly gentleman came to him and said: "Now I finally understand the songs!" The audience felt the same way last Friday – the storytellers really set the mood for the following songs, and made the audience want to listen more closely to the lyrics.

Telling the personal stories was a successful experiment that ended with standing ovations. Before the concert, Christof Tschudi wasn't sure how the audience would react, and added:

"When the choir heard the stories for the first time at the main rehearsal, some of them had to cry."

That's why Christof Tschudi issued a warning at the start of the concert: "Life is sometimes unvarnished, hold on tight." In fact, a tear ran down the cheek of the writer of these lines.

With the appropriate decoration on stage: the Chor Zug with band gets started.
Choirmaster Christof Tschudi greets the audience with a warning.
They were bobbing, nodding and almost dancing along: the Chor Zug choir clearly had fun making music: the sign of a carefully selected programme

                        Photos: Matthias Jurt

With its 53 voices, the Chor Zug had no trouble filling the hall. Accompanied by a band consisting of piano, bass and drums, it achieved its top form at the latest towards the end of the first half– for example with the song "Something Just Like This" by The Chainsmokers/Coldplay.

It is refreshing to listen to these pop songs without the many technical effects often used to ideally prepare them for the radio. Visitor Jonas Walker confessed during the break: "I don't really like Coldplay that much – but I liked today's version of the song." His opinion is, however, not entirely unbiased, as his father sings in the choir, and he adds enthusiastically: "This is one of the most beautiful concerts of this formation for a long time."

Another highlight: the first live performance of the song "Sing mit mir", composed by Christof Tschudi, and written during the pandemic. An atmospheric declaration of the love of singing and the Chor Zug, to which Christof Tschudi has long been strongly connected: he was a tenor and soloist before he took over the choir direction in 2019.

The idea works
The six stories told included one telling how a daughter's cancer diagnosis changed the life of a choir member overnight ("Let It Go" from the Disney film "Frozen", as well as the strong feelings that an old sepia photo can trigger ("When We Were Young" by Adele).

The personal approach was well received. Visitor Susanne Schwab from Oberrüti, who used to sing in the choir herself, is full of praise: "The sensitively told stories are taken from life, everyone knows someone who has experienced something similar."

Stephan Hinners from Obfelden, who knows one of the members of the choir, liked the opening song best: "It gets to the heart of the motto and reminds us that everyone brings their own backpack – I think we sometimes forget that today."