This Salzburg Advent Singing Anniversary takes us back mentally to the time around Christ's birth. We write the year as 3760 according to the Jewish calendar. Rabbi Jacob, who lives with the shepherds, tells of a promise made by the prophet Isaiah, who said, “Don’t be afraid...”!
At the same time, two Jewish women are immersed in a conversation in Nazareth. The faithful widow Anna tells her beautiful daughter and temple virgin Mary, that she and Joachim were denied the blessings of children for a long time. Because of the great shame, Joachim desperately retreated to the desert to repent. After 40 days of isolation, his prayers were answered. An angel appeared to each of them independently and delivered glad tidings, beginning with the words: “Don’t be afraid...”!
These two events are accompanied by music and singing at the start of this new Advent Singing. Ten days march away on the outskirts of Bethlehem, shepherds keep their sheep in the midst of Cypress and Olive groves. The area is considered consecrated and sacred. Here graze only sheep that are intended for a sacrificial ritual in the temple.
We go back to the time when people like Rabbi Jacob, the widow Anna, the temple virgin Mary, her kinswoman Elisabeth, the carpenter Joseph or the shepherds all orientated themselves as faithful Jews according to the Tanach. In the context of our Christian traditions, this Advent Singing will be a fascinating imaginary journey into the life and faith of our older Jewish brothers and sisters, from whom Christ was born.
A Salzburg Advent Singing with new ways of thinking, which also in our turbulent times carry within them the persistent power of hope for peace among all people. And this, together with compositions by Shane Woodborne, with music by Tobi Reiser and numerous vocal and folk music treasures from our Alpine culture.
75 years of Salzburg Advent Singing
On the bitterly cold 5th December 1946, in the midst of the post-war hardship and poverty, Tobi Reiser Snr. invited friends and companions to an Advent singing in Salzburg for the first time. Three days earlier Tobias Reiser Jnr. had opened his eyes for the first time. For both of them, the Heimatwerk with the Advent Singing became a real passion and success story, which was to ac-company them until the end of their lives. For two decades, the poet K.H. Waggerl was the in-dispensable, formative voice of this traditional event. For 20 years now, general manager Hans Köhl and his dedicated team have been shaping this unique Advent experience in the Large Fes-tival Hall. Around one thousand performances for over two million visitors are an impressive testimony to the popularity of this internationally renowned cultural event.
This is impressively confirmed by the current empirical study by the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce. More than 90% of the approximately 36,000 guests come to Salzburg mainly because of the Advent Singing. Around 98% rate the event as very good or good and with the Advent Sin-ging service 99% of the guests are very satisfied or satisfied. These figures are a clear instruction for the team headed by Hans Köhl and for all contributors to continue to dedicate themselves with enthusiasm and passion to this unique tra-ditional event. The mystery of divine love and the events around the miracle of Christ‘s birth are always at the centre of considerations.
The special character of the Salzburg Advent Singing lies in the simple yet profound form of the Advent performances. Born from the hu-man yearning for harmony and peace, and taken from the Advent power of tranquillity, the biblical events are viewed every year from new perspecti-ves. The musical and vocal performances of more than 150 participants, in conjunction with the scenic staging, convey a very special atmosphere of wonder, contemplation and memories of one‘s own childhood. This touches and opens the he-arts of around 2,200 guests at each performance. They laugh heart-warmingly at the honest charm of the shepherd children, are affected by the events surrounding Mary and Joseph, and shed tears of joy at the final, joint devotional Yodel.
In 1946, the Salzburg Advent Singing was born. Born from the yearning desire for a better, more peaceful world, musicians and singers met Tobi Reiser (1907-1974) in a small meeting room in Salzburg’s Old Town to commemorate the fathers, sons and friends who had not come home from war. It was a silent, devout celebration with familiar songs and sages, heartfelt thoughts, religious folk piety and ancestral customs. That ceremony became an annual tradition and the number of guests rose from year to year. It moved to ever larger premises and ﬁnally in 1960, into the newly built Large Festival Hall. Today, this unique „original“ inspires about 36,000 guests from over 40 countries around the world every year.
The Salzburger Advent Singing in the Large ‘Festspielhaus’ is the nucleus of and the big role-model for numerous "Advent Singing" events in the whole German-speaking world. More than 2 million visitors have already visited this unique event during the Salzburger Advent period.