Someone You Should Know

Zither Orchestra makes history

Friday, April 11, 2008

At 95 years old, the Chicago Zither Orchestra is the oldest of its kind.

The musicians play instruments that are 2,000 years old. Zithers are well known in Germany and Austria, but not in the U.S. But, thanks to the Chicago Zither Orchestra, the instrument has a presence.

"It's like a soul. When you can create music and it makes you feel good. It has everything in it from the bass to the rhythm to the melody," said Ludwig Kalbrunner, Zither player.

The group began 95 years ago and is the longest continuously performing Zither Orchestra in the nation.

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"We've been playing...well, the club has been playing since 1913," said Janet Stressl, president. "And we feel we have a very precious tradition to continue here."

Fresh out of Columbia College, William Taylor did not know what a zither was until he became the orchestra's conductor four years ago.

"It's an honor. It really is an honor," said Taylor. "That's one of the few thing I tell people when they say, 'Oh your conducting.' I say, 'Yeah my orchestra's 95 years old.'"

"I just love playing. And, I like the continuous challenge of playing more and mode difficult music. I just love it," said Charlotte Geib.

"I like the challenge. It's a good mental challenge at this stage of the game," said Lewis Stessl.

Spring Concert

On April 27, Chicago Zither Orchestra will present a spring concert at 5826 N. Elston Avenue.

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