Time: 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Ephrata Cloister Chorus announces our Spring Concert May 21, 2023, 3 p.m. Cloister Saal
The Chorus of the Ephrata Cloister will present its annual Spring concert on Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. in the 1741 Saal. Historic Ephrata Cloister, the foundation of the modern borough of Ephrata, is located at 632 W. Main Street, Ephrata. The free concert will feature a significant number of compositions created by the community’s founder, Conrad Beissel, and by Sister Föben, who has been recognized as one of America’s first female composers. The pieces have been edited for modern performance by Dr. Russell Getz and Dr. Christopher Herbert.
In addition, the chorus will present comparative and contrasting choral works by other religious- focused groups of early America, including Moravian, River Brethren, Shaker, and African- American traditions.
The museum will be open to visitors at noon with free admission to the site. The orientation video will be shown in the auditorium at 12:30, followed at 1 p.m. by a cake and beverage reception in the Visitor Center until the time of performance. Give-what-you-will donations will be accepted at the door of the Saal to support the work of the Cloister Chorus.
Two historic buildings on the property, the Saal (Meeting House) and the Saron (the Sisters’ dormitory), will be open for visitation with interpreters. No guided tours will be offered that afternoon, but visitors will be invited to stroll the half-mile walking path along paved walkways through the property and around the historic buildings until the hour-long performance begins at 3 p.m.
An extra special “treat” will be a display in the Visitor Center of ephemera from the years that the summer drama, Vorspiel, was performed on Saturday nights in the amphitheater. For over twenty years starting in the 1960s, the Chorus and cast sang and acted out the story of a fictionalized romance between a celibate Sister and a Revolutionary War soldier. Five of the concert pieces this year were sung in the pageant of Cloister music.
This collection of memorabilia was kept for many years by long time members of the Chorus, Ferdinand (Ferdie) and Kay Hoefner, who were participants in the drama, and provided by their daughter Lisa Jean Hoefner, an active member of the Chorus today. Former Chorus members and volunteers from the Vorspiel days are encouraged to visit with the current singers and bring their own pieces of memorabilia to share.
The amphitheater, which held the Vorspiel and countless weddings and concerts, is in the process of being revitalized by the non-profit Ephrata Cloister Associates as a community gathering and performance space. Landscape architect Rick Jackson of ELA Group, Lititz, will be on hand to greet visitors at the slope to point out the proposed footprint for the pathways, terraces, and stone walls that will eventually complete the structure. Markers at the site will help visitors visualize the scope of the amphitheater construction, which is expected to commence in the fall.
If you are intrigued by the repertoire of the Cloister as well as our concert program, and you are interested in becoming a member of the Chorus, please contact the current director of music, Mark Herr, at email@example.com, or call the Cloister site at 717-733-6600 for more information. For information regarding the amphitheater revitalization project, contact Suzanne Fisher, ECA president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historic Ephrata Cloister is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with support from the Ephrata Cloister Associates. The Cloister Chorus is an educational program sponsored by the Associates.