30 years of partnership with the dettingen brass band
The Beginning

During the seventies, Rev. Karl Schiefer began to serve the Moravian Church at Genadendal at the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Württemberg. There he also became involved in the work of the brass band union.

Karl Schiefer sent an order to Württemberg for music for the Genadendal brass band with the request that a sponsor be found to pay for the costs incurred. This account was passed on to Wilhelm Mergenthaler who was the provincial co-ordinator for brass music at the time. He had just spent some time in a training session with our choir a few days before. He forwarded the account to us with the following instructions: "You are such a big choir. You can settle the account." This request was duly carried out.

A few weeks later we received a letter of thanks from South Africa. This letter informed us about the financial plight of the different brass bands as well as about problems which existed in the church, in the congregations and in the schools.


We felt that we had an obligation to translate the motto "Brass players helping brass players" into action. We organized a wide variety of events to support the BBSA financially. Among others we collected and sold old newspapers. We organized hikes under the motto "Hiking for Africa"; we produced and sold a 17cm record called "Aid of Africa"; we baked and sold bread; arranged church services; collected second hand clothing and so on. We were also able to send 250 copies of the book Posaunenklänge to all the choirs of the BBSA. In addition, we subsidized the transport costs of persons who were sent out to train choir leaders and the choirs in the various regions.

Visits, mutual relationships and contacts

After receiving our first long-playing record at the end of 1971, which we had released to celebrate our 75th birthday in March 1972, Karl Schiefer wrote to us with the words: "We simply must have these players over." Our players reacted positively to this suggestion. And so it happened that a group of 29 persons visited South Africa over Easter of 1974 to get to know our newly-found friends personally. We were faced with several problems as a result of the apartheid policy. It seemed to us a miracle to be greeted by the sounds of the Genadendal brass band upon our arrival at Cape Town. We simply joined them in praising God, without permission from the authorities. At that time we traveled in camping busses. Apart from accommodation provided at Genadendal, Shiloh and Mvenyane, we had to overnight at camping sites along the way. As a result there were not many opportunities to get to know the South African players, but a start had been made.

During our second visit over Christmas of 1984 things were different. 17 hours before our departure from Germany, we were informed that the car hiring firm from which we had ordered our camping busses had gone bankrupt. After lengthy negotiations with our travel agent, we were able to hire ordinary motor vehicles. But where we were to sleep? A late night telephone call by the church leadership solved that problem so that we were then hosted mainly by the families of our brass players and we could enjoy their wonderful hospitality. Thus the unavailability of camping busses led to close and intimate contact with the players and the members of the different congregations which we visited. These contacts have now been in existence for many years already - not only between the players and the different choirs, but also between the respective families.

The first visit to Germany

These existing contacts were further strengthened when a selected group of BBSA players visited us on the occasion of our double celebration, viz. the 125th anniversary of the YMCA and the 90th anniversary of the Dettingen brass band. We invited the group on a free three-week say and also subsidized their air tickets. For our South African friends it was a dream that had finally come true. Despite the apartheid policy, they were allowed to leave the country as the first "coloured" group.

In 1990 the Dettingen brass band visited South Africa again; in 1994 a group of players from the Port Elizabeth region came to Germany and in 1997 a group from the Western Cape could join us in celebrating our 100th anniversary. In between, smaller groups from both sides have been visiting each other and in this way relationships and contacts are strengthened and maintained.

The development of the BBSA

Through these visits I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the musical development of the players and bands of the BBSA. The concerts presented by our guests were of remarkable quality and high standards. They impressed their audiences, not only with their music, but also through their spiritual witness. Even though language problems on both sides did arise occasionally, we speak the same language with our instruments. We proclaim and praise the same Lord, our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is the most beautiful and the most remarkable aspect of our relationship.

The availability of instruments has also improved remarkably. This is thanks to the existence of a workshop where repairs are carried out. Pat Johannes from Genadendal spent two sessions of four weeks each in the workshop of Matthias Beck, the present leader of the Dettingen brass band, where he could be trained in repair and maintenance work. Unfortunately he passed away much too soon. His dedication to the BBSA was exemplary and we have lost a true and beloved friend in him. His successor, David Kraak from Mamre, has meanwhile been to Dettingen for training in the same field.

Congratulations on your anniversary

We, the players and friends from Dettingen, would like to congratulate you on your 50th anniversary. Service, Praise and Thanksgiving are the key words of our work in the brass band and they sum up that which gives expressions to our work as a band. We wish the BBSA everything of the best for the future, God’s blessings and success in all its endeavors. May our good relationship grow from strength to strength.

We would also like to use this opportunity to thank the respective president of the BBSA and all their co-workers as well as the church leadership of the Moravian Church, with whom we have had the privilege of close and fraternal co-operation over the last 30 years. All of you have laid the foundation for positive and progressive development. We hope that with our support we have contributed in some small measures to your success.

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30 years of partnership with the dettingen brass band