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The Hills Are (Once Again) Alive

February 29, 2016 by

The hills were alive with the sound of music and harmony on a Friday in early February. At the request of Rosemarie von Trapp, eldest daughter of Georg and Maria von Trapp, a group of twenty-five young men and women from the Maple Ridge Bruderhof put on a concert at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Located on the site of the original Trapp Family farm, this corner of New England has resounded in harmony for decades, since the von Trapps arrived in the 1940s.

The hills of Vermont

While perhaps not quite as dramatic as depicted in The Sound of Music, the von Trapp’s journey was no picnic. After travelling through Italy and across the Atlantic, they came to the Green Mountains of Vermont, where they took up farming to support themselves.

But the singing family never lost what made them unique. And having been raised in that environment of song and harmony, Rosemarie von Trapp was thrilled that we had traveled seven hours by bus to sing especially for her, as well as for the guests at the family lodge. Though no longer the home of the von Trapps, the Lodge still holds the atmosphere of the family, and guests are warmly welcomed and treated as personal friends.

the choir from Maple Ridge Bruderhof outside the von Trapp lodge

As were we. Inspired by how the Trapp family collected and performed songs from the countries they toured over decades, our program consisted of songs ranging from African freedom songs to German folksongs. We concluded with a traditional Irish blessing, “May the road rise to meet you.” As we sang, the audience, some of whom stayed later than planned to attend our concert, echoed back the lyrics of some of the better-known songs.

the choir from Maple Ridge Bruderhof performing inside the von Trapp lodge

As our concert ended, the room pulsed with a sense of expectation and warmth generated between those assembled in the concert hall. Smiles were the common denominator. Styles of singing may vary between cultures but the joy which music brings is the same the world through.

I believe that everyone, both choir and audience, left that concert hall uplifted and inspired to give music and harmony a more significant role in their lives. For, as Rosemarie von Trapp told us after the concert, singing connects us to God: “Once you get harmony in your mind, it stays with you for the rest of your life because harmony comes directly from God. And, when we get to heaven we’ll hear the same melodies we’re hearing now.”


Emma Mathis lives at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof.

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