For almost 30 years we are passionated singers of a gospel choir called Jena Jubilee Singers.
We were established in 1988 by our conductor Norbert Kleekamp and a few other singers. 1988 was only a year before the wall fell in East Germany – it was not easy to establish a choir which intended to sing American music. Today, we are a mixed group of more than 40 active members and are affiliated with the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena. Norbert Kleekamp remains our musical director.
In 2018 we have celebrated the 30th anniversary of our founding – we are happy and proud of this feat!
We sing works from various genres but our repertoire is generally characterized by traditional American gospel music and spirituals.
We also like singing one of our favorite composers and arrangers, namely Moses Hogan, from whom we have much music in our repertoire.
These are other song titles from our current program this summer: „We shall walk through the valley in peace“; „Ride on, King Jesus“; „No hiding place“; „I got a home in a dead rock“.
Beside these gospel songs, we are currently offering the “Gospel Mass” by Robert Ray and also sang his “Gospel Magnificat” in the past. Robert Ray is also one of our favorite musicians, as well as composer and arranger Kirby Shaw. To emphasize our diversity of repertoire, we also sing pop choral music such as: „Tribute of Louis Armstrong“; „I am beginning to see the light“; the popular film music titles „Theme From New York, New York“ and „Shout“ from Sister Act. Our current song repertoire will be find on our webside, too.
We sometimes also work together with regional jazz bands, the Old Time Memory Jazzband, as well as the Carl-Zeiss Symphony Orchestra from Jena.
We give approximately 12 concerts per year. Our choir is also supported by pianists, a drummer, and in some cases from a bass guitarist. We also have singer soloists from our own choir. In addition, some of us sing in smaller chamber groups in the form of quintets or sextets– either all women or all male groups. These groups enhance our concert programs through an increased variety of styles and formats. We always strive to provide a thrilling audio and visual experience for our audiences!
We would honestly deny that we sing gospels and spiritual music in a typical American way – we certainly do not attempt to “copy” the many outstanding American gospel music groups. We instead have come up with our own kind of way to express this wonderful music, which indeed appeals to our German audiences. We are a regionally well-known choir and are often asked to return to the same venue for subsequent concerts.
During our history, we have experienced some special highlights. One such highlight occurred in the 1990’s when we had the special honor to get to know Jean Berger. He was a German-born composer who came to Amerika after the Second World War. He worked with us here in Germany during a visit. At the end of his stay in Jena, he dedicated a piece of his music to us!
In 2005, we travelled to the United States and toured a few New England states. We gave concerts in Nashua, NH, Valley Falls and Rochester, NY, and Boston, MA. We had a wonderful time! In April 2012, we successfully participated in the 23rd „Concorso Internazionale di Canto Corale“ in Verona and won a silver medal in the jazz, swing and pop category.
Since 2012, we have kept giving regular concerts throughout the year, also travelling to different locations within Germany.