The Sorbs are the only Slavic people with their ancestral home in Germany. From the 6th century they inhabited a large area stretching from the River Bóbr in Poland to the River Saale in East Germany and from the southern outskirts of Berlin to the mountains of Czechia. Today the Sorbs, now only a community of 70000 people, are located in two small areas, each with their own language. The northern area lies in the Lower Lusatia around Chosebuz (Cottbus), the southern in the Upper Lusatia around Budyšin (Bautzen). Linking Lower and Upper Lusatia is the region of Slepe/Slepo (Schleife) near Grodk (Spremberg).
With the change of traditional farming and village life during the middle of the last century, choirs took over the responsibility of preserving the Sorb music. In 1841 the first comprehensive collection of Sorb folk songs was published. After the end of the second world war, a time of ethnic cleansing and the systematic suppression of the Sorbs, the Sorb choral movement developed with renewed energy.
Choirs such as ‘Lipa’ and ‘Budyšin’ were formed. These choirs together with the well established ‘Meja’ choir, and the choir of the Sorb National Assembly, performed many choral pieces, including works by the Meastro Korla Awgust Kocor (Oratorio Naleco - the Spring) and Bjarnat Krawc (Missa solemnis). The choirs performed to enthusiastic audiences, in packed concert halls throughout East Germany. With such encouragement and recognition the choirs soon reached a high musical standard. The male voice choirs in Chróscicy and in Konjecy/Šunow joined forces with the Sorb mixed-voice choirs. Of these, ‘Delany’ is the only Sorb male-voice choir which remains. In addition, the Domowina (the Sorb Association for Culture and Heritage) encouraged new artistic undertakings, inparticular the popular series of Autumn Concerts. The newly established Sorb radio and the production of Sorb music on record, provided new musical experiences.
During the years of communist rule, the visible traditions of music, dancing and other colourful sorbs pastimes were allowed to function and encouraged by the organisation of large folklore gatherings. At the same time however, the communist system tried to undermine and diminish the demands of the Sorb people for political, educational and religious autonomy.
Today the ‘Society of Sorb Singers and Choirs’ is dedicated to maintaining and reviving the traditional music of the people. This recording offers a colourful cross-section of the Sorb choral achievements over the past 40 years and we hope will bring much pleasure to their many friends throughout the world.
(engl.: Sue Peter)
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