Music as universal language: The Daimler Choir of Stuttgart

Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., unfamiliar sounds waft through the Daimler plant in Esslingen-Brühl. That’s when the Daimler Choir of Stuttgart (DCS) holds its weekly rehearsal session in the plant’s cafeteria.

After a busy day at work, choir rehearsal is the perfect opportunity to relax and have fun. For almost two hours, 60 men and women — active and passive Daimler employees as well as music lovers from outside the company — tune in to each other, both literally and figuratively.

Singing is not only lots of fun, it’s also hard work, especially if the choir members aren’t in the same mood as the choir director, Hartmut Volz. But when everything’s running smoothly, I’m rewarded every time with a surge of happiness as soon as all the voices blend together into a feast for the ears.

Choir director Hartmut Volz (left) in a talk with the concert pianist Janis Irbe

What makes this choir very special for me is not just the singing but also the sense of community and the fun we have together. That’s also reflected by the many performances and events in which the choir participates. Our highlights include a magical performance at the Summer Nights’ Movies in Kirchheim/Teck and an unforgettable and successful concert tour in the Baltic region. But first things first…

A repertoire that spans every decade of pop music history

Our project for this year, “Songs for a better world,” took us through every decade of pop music history, and that made our music repertoire very diverse. During the first half of the year, we focused on music by John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, Michael Jackson, and Die Toten Hosen, a punk rock band from Düsseldorf.

We recently performed as an opening act at the annual Summer Nights’ Movies in Kirchheim/Teck, with support from the musicians Andreas Münker and Wolfgang Menauer from the Daimler Classic Jazz Band and the pianist Edgar Müller. The audience was enchanted by our music.

A performance at the annual Summer Nights’ Movies in Kirchheim/Teck

The audience was thrilled and didn’t even need to be encouraged to sing along. Our joy of singing leaped like a spark from the choir to the audience. The event’s organizer praised our performance as a highlight of this four-week event series. We’d be delighted to return!

Off to the Baltic!

Another very special highlight was this year’s concert tour. During the tours we make every two years. We carry the spirit of the Daimler Choir of Stuttgart out into the world. After concert tours that took us to destinations including Andalusia, Sicily, Austria, and Hungary, we decided to travel this year to the beautiful Baltic region — specifically, to Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania.

Latvia in particular is renowned for its musical tradition of choral singing. We experienced this tradition at first hand everywhere.

An outing to Jurmala on the stormy but sunny coast of the Baltic Sea

That’s why it made sense to organize our concert together with the Tevzeme Men’s Choir of Riga in the Small Guild in Riga, which was full to bursting that evening. We were accompanied by the pianist Janis Irbe. With our selection of songs, ranging from the “Stabat Mater” by Karl Jenkins to rock and pop music, we enchanted the audience.

Together with the Men’s Choir, we sang the nonofficial Latvian anthem, “Saule, Pērkons, Daugava.” It was an unsurpassable experience, and we felt goosebumps as the audience, deeply moved, stood up and sang along with us.

During the first days of our stay, we enjoyed Riga’s amazing cultural diversity. We went on a guided tour of the excellently restored Art Nouveau district and explored the Central Market and the historic center of Riga, both of which are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites (of course that included sampling all kinds of regional culinary specialties)

Fantastic Lithuania

We took our leave of the Tevzeme Men’s Choir with a small round of toasts. After a culinary Latvian evening, on the next day we left in good spirits for a 400-kilometer bus ride to Vilnius, Lithuania. What a fantastic landscape!

The first stopover took us to the very impressive Hill of Crosses. We were almost overwhelmed by emotion as we gazed at the countless crosses, each of which bore a small and very personal message. All of us made a short pause for reflection before we continued our trip to Vilnius. Along the way, we had a very delicious lunch of Lithuanian specialties in a beautiful country estate. In the evening we arrived in the very modern and up-and-coming young university city of Vilnius.

In Stadala, a Lithuanian country estate, we enjoyed local culinary specialties

After a tour of the city on a wonderfully sunny day, we were inspired to give a spontaneous concert at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. In the early evening of that day, we had our first rehearsal with the local university orchestra “Vilniaus Muzikos Megeju Simfoninis Orkestras” and its conductor Tadas Sileika.

Although we were meeting them for the first time, they gave us a warm welcome and catered to our needs. Once again, we saw that music creates bonds that cross national boundaries and linguistic barriers.

We gave our concert on October 3, Germany’s national Unity Day, in the University Church, together with the mezzo soprano Vilija Mikštaité. Here too, every seat in the church was occupied. Our choir director, Hartmut Volz, masterfully directed us and the orchestra through the very challenging “Stabat Mater.”

The Lithuanian conductor Tadas Sileika gave a speech in which he thanked us for our cooperation and emphasized that on this date, which is steeped in history for both countries, we had made this occasion very significant through our music and clearly granted the audience a very special evening.

With a great sense of pleasure and pride, we said goodbye to these wonderful countries and their very special people. We’re glad that through our music and our singing we not only gave the people in Riga and Vilnius pleasure but also reached out to them and moved them at the emotional level. This enthusiasm will continue to motivate us in our future activities at the Daimler Choir.

The mezzo soprano Vilija Mikštaité and our choir director Hartmut Volz after the successful concert

More information

The Daimler Choir of Stuttgart was founded in 1990 and today has about 90 active and passive members. It is an ensemble of the Daimler Music Community. The choir’s repertoire encompasses every type of music, from sacred to secular works and from classic to pop.

Our concerts are always benefit concerts. For example, after this year’s concert at the St. Andreas Church in Uhlbach the donations from the audience went to a charitable church project in Samara, Russia.

We rehearse on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. in the plant restaurant in Brühl. If you enjoy singing, come join us for a tryout rehearsal! We look forward to seeing you!

Susan Spengler is the ensemble leader of the Daimler Choir and an enthusiastic singer in the alto section. As an employee in the HR Development & HR Services unit, she is responsible for personnel management issues for the top management level at Daimler.