On April 20, 2016, the Helvetia Männerchor and the Edelweiss Damenchor formally merged to form the Schweizerchor Columbus, or as most people call us, The Columbus Swiss Singers.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, movements to establish democratic governments arose in central Europe. To capitalize on their love of singing and to teach democratic ways to the people, singing societies were created in Switzerland and Germany. As the Swiss emigrated to America, they brought their singing societies with them. Thus, they created a cultural institution that would preserve the traditions of the Fatherland and provide a place where new immigrants could find comfort and friendship.
Bernhard Buehler founded the Helvetia in 1890. Buehler was a native of Steckborn, Thurgau, Switzerland. There was evidence of rehearsals, concerts, and performances by Swiss male singers prior to this date. Mr. Buehler served until 1893 as the first President of the Columbus Swiss Male Chorus. The first recorded Music Director was Prof. George Dietrich (1892-1897).
The purpose of the Helvetia Männerchor is to celebrate Swiss heritage and good fellowship through song and to further an appreciation of Swiss culture by musical performances to community, regional, and national audiences. In 1896, the Columbus Helvetia Männerchor took an active part in promoting a meeting of Swiss singing societies from various cities. Following these meetings the Swiss-American Singing Alliance was organized. (In 1988 it was renamed the North American Swiss Singing Alliance). The Helvetia Männerchor has attended all 40 Alliance Sängerfests since their beginning in 1897 in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1898, Columbus hosted the Second National Sängerfest. Since that time Columbus has hosted the 1965, 1974, and 1991 National Sängerfests.
Pauline Glur, Aured Flora, Marti Baer, Bertha Jenny Doelker, Elisa Grossenbacher, Kunzi Lucy, Jenny Miller, Anna Antenen Pretz, Elisabeth Buehler Rohauser and Rosa Kehr Zwigard founded the Edelweiss Damenchor in 1895. Most of the women were wives and daughters of members of the other constituent societies. The purpose of the Edelweiss Damenchor is to celebrate Swiss heritage and good sisterhood through song and to further an appreciation of Swiss culture by musical performances to community, regional, and national audiences.
The Columbus Jodel Club (jodel is the German spelling for yodel) is not really a separate organization. It brings together the Helvetia with three yodelers to perform this distinctively Swiss art. The Club is a very old tradition that was revived in 1997 following many years of inactivity. The revival of the Jodelklub makes the Columbus Swiss Singers the only organization in the North American Swiss Singing Alliance to have competed in all four categories of the Sängerfest: men’s chorus, ladies’ chorus, mixed chorus, and yodel.