Saengerfest 2024: Awarded silver in Pittsburgh

The Toledo Swiss Singers are bringing home silver!

The judges awarded the group a silver prize on Sunday, June 23, at Saengerfest, a competition, Swiss singing and yodeling festival held in Pittsburgh June 20-23. 

The Singers were presented with the special wreath for their mixed-choir prize song “Ma Bella Bimba,” an Italian folk song. Singers president Barb Carr and director Micah Graber accepted the award. Watch their performance below:

The Edmonton Swiss Men's Choir was awarded gold at the prize competition for singing "Pays, terre ardente" by Suisse Romande (Swiss French) composer Jean Daetwyler. (Watch their performance on Facebook.)

The Singers compete internationally every three years as part of the North American Swiss Singing Alliance (NASSA), made up of 13 choirs from Canada and the U.S. The Singers presented their competition song June 22 and sang in a “grand concert” June 21 with 160 singers from all of the choirs. 

The grand concert was held at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Auditorium. The space is known for its brilliant acoustics and intimate feeling with more than 2,000 seats. The 78-foot-wide stage features sculpted eagles atop ornate rows of columns beneath the largest known hand-painted canvas version of Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. Toledo singers sang from the balconies on either side of the stage. 

The weekend featured several events throughout Pittsburgh, including tours and a river cruise. 

The primary objectives of NASSA are to bring Swiss singing societies together, and to foster and elevate Swiss national folksongs and yodel songs. The main features of each Singerfest, besides a good dose of Gemutlichkeit, are a competition singing event amongst member choirs, and a Mass Concert for the public. Both events combine the efforts and talents of all the singers. 

Formed in the late 1800s with singing societies from only the United States, the organization was originally known as the Swiss American Singing Alliance. 

The most recent competition was held in Toledo in 2018. The next competition will be held in 2027 in Canada.

About the Singers

The Swiss Singers stand on risers and sing at their fall concert. Their director is standing on the left, with the piano on the right.

Currently under the direction of Micah Graber, the choir has been a cultural staple in the Toledo area since 1869 — over 155 years of celebrating Swiss culture in the area. The chorus in its current form has been around since 1924. Its aim is to retain and preserve the culture and songs of Switzerland, to live up to the singers’ ancestors’ tenets of faith and behavior, help others, and to be good citizens. 

The Singers perform two concerts annually, including a wide variety of traditional Swiss, Broadway, Gospel and American music, as well as a special event in the winter/spring. 

It's been a successful 2023-2024 season. The Singers hosted their concerts in November and April, and they held a special, SOLD OUT Valentine Tea event on Feb. 4.   

The nonprofit organization is also part of the larger German American Festival (GAF) Society, which most people associate with the festival held annually in August. The society consists of seven German-speaking societies. During the festival, the Singers set up and operate the Swiss Cheese Haus, along with the Stein Stossen contest. The GAF Festival draws more than 30,000 people on an average weekend and is the largest ethnic festival in this part of the country. 

The Swiss Singers practice Wednesday evenings at 7:00 at Oak Shade Grove from September to May.