The Hill Country Chorus
The Hill Country Chorus was chartered in
1973 as “Tri-County Chorus” when the late Jim
Hazel decided that New Braunfels should have a
local chapter of the Society for the Preservation
and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet
Singing in America. It was later known as “The
South Texas Sound” before becoming “The Hill
Country Chorus”. Men of all ages and from all
walks of life comprise the local group. Under the
leadership of their first director, B. J. Lowrance of
Seguin, the group began to build a reputation for
“joyful noise” that became refined to a well-honed
sound of tight-knit harmony.
The Chorus sings publicly at least six to eight times per year, at such events as Wassailfest, Dinner
with the Arts, and the Music Study Club’s annual Parade of American Music. Their biggest event
is their annual concert which produces revenue to support their endeavors. They also maintain a
booth during Wurstfest which also raises much needed funds.
Members of the Hill Country Chorus Performing at
Dinner with the Arts in 2001
Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association
The interest for creating a performing arts theatre grew
out of the closing of the Brauntex Theater (which originally
opened in 1942 as a movie theater and was located in the heart of
historical downtown New Braunfels) when the theater was
placed on the market in September, 1998. Community leaders,
who included representatives of various art groups met and
toured the theater with a local architect. In May of 1999 there
were 108 interested citizens invited to a brainstorming session
led by a professional facilitator. Representatives from diverse
groups-local artists, performing arts technician, representatives
from local organizations, business men and women, engineers,
attorneys, bankers and city and county government officialsidentified
the cultural and educational needs that the Brauntex
could meet, its possible uses and barriers to the purchase, renovation and use of the building. In
June, 1999, the group agreed that a performing arts theatre was needed in the community to
accommodate a venue for the growing community. Consequently, the Brauntex Performing Arts
Theatre Association, Inc. was formed. In August a consultant was retained to conduct a day-long
planning seminar to develop a business strategy to launch the project. On August 31, 1999 an
earnest money contract was signed and delivered to the Title Company. The building was purchased
with a short-term loan in December, 1999, renovation planning was underway and an office was set
up with volunteer staff.
Date Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association established - February, 1999.
Founders - Mac McCoy, Lee Rodriguez, Pete Schlumberger and Allen Seelhammer
Purpose of organization/philosophy-The Association’s purpose is to maintain: the theatre with the
focus on the needs of the patron; a commitment to artistic quality; professional support for artists
using the theatre; and a careful balance between the community service, creative and financial goals
of the project.
· Purchased the building December 10, 1999
· Met a Kronkosky Foundation required grant 5-to-1 match, December, 2000
· Received gifts in excess of $853,992 in the first 60 months of operation
· Spent the first $100,000 to make the building habitable for live theatre and opened
with the San Antonio Symphony on April 29, 2000
· Invested $700,000 in improvements to the theatre to include restroom facilities,
expansion of the lobby and a sprinkler system January, 2002
· Officially re-opened the theatre after renovations October, 2002
· Presented internationally known Vienna Choir Boys October, 2003
· Completed third full season in the theatre April, 2005.
Narrative on key people
Mac McCoy – First President of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Assoc.
In July, 1998 Mac McCoy began the quest of keeping the Brauntex alive and open as a
performing arts theatre after it had closed as a movie theatre. He contacted numerous arts
organizations and anyone who would listen, from community leaders, elected officials, and
local high school band directors. Mac spearheaded the formation of the Brauntex Performing
Arts Theatre Association and was involved in getting the Association’s non-profit status and
fundraising in order for the Association to purchase the theatre in August, 1999. Mac
became the first president of the Board of Directors of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre
Association and served three two year terms in that capacity. He also played an integral part
in the development of the plans for renovation.
Charles “Chuck” Walsh – Building Committee Chairperson
Chuck Walsh became involved in the Brauntex Theatre through Mac McCoy in 1999. Chuck
was instrumental in the process of renovating the theatre. As chairperson of the Building
Committee he was diligent in his quest to make the Brauntex a viable performing arts venue.
Chuck did not single-handedly raise the roof but his passion to provide a performing arts
facility for amateur, as well as professional, performing arts groups was so heartfelt that
under his leadership, devotion and focus he was able to see the completion of the first and
second phases of renovation.
Janet K. Allen – Executive Director
Janet Allen started as a volunteer with the Brauntex in December, 1999 and immediately
became responsible for the marketing of the theatre. She was hired as the first Executive
Director of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association in January, 2001. With nearly
two decades of experience in non-profit 501(c)3 organizations in performing arts, Janet
brought a wealth of experience in theatre management and season promotions. She has
played a vital role in the day-to-day operations of the theatre, as well as, serving on the
Performance Committee, the Financial Development Committee, and Advisory Board.
Of course, every individual who has served either on the board of directors, advisory board,
participated as a volunteer or worked at the Brauntex is a “key” person in the eyes of the theatre, as
it takes the whole community to continue the success of the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre.
List of activities and opportunities for participation/involvement
· Participation on Advisory Board
· Financial support
· Volunteers: i.e. concessions, ushering, administrative, marketing , operations & maintenance
· Sponsorship for performances/seasons.
The Show and Tell meeting in 2001 was well attended.
Left to right are Gloria Hoffman Hall, Eva Fitzgerald,
Jeaniene Jolley, Martha Stevens, Gladys Callahan,
Sandie Walsh, Bunnie Satchell, Ed Reichert and Carol
Canyon Lake Art Guild
The Canyon Lake Art Guild (CLAG) was organized by 24 local artists on May 9, 1984, in
the home of Kathei Markham. The Art Guild was designed with the purpose of being a nonprofit
organization established exclusively for charitable and educational purposes to stimulate general
interest in art, to sponsor public art displays and workshops and to contribute toward making the
Canyon Lake area a cultural art center. As the bylaws state, each year the Guild will present a
scholarship for further art studies to a graduating senior from a local high school.
The membership grew to 73 by the end of 1984 with nationally known artist Grant Lathe
serving as the first president. Beginning in September of that year, monthly meetings were held at
the Mountain Valley School or at the Church in the Valley. The first arts and crafts show was held
in March 1985, followed by a show in July, both held in the Startz Party House in Startzville, Texas.
On August 13, 1985, Gladys and Emmett George held an open house at a newly purchased
building, named the Heart’s Desire Art Center, in Sattler, CLAG members assisted in refurbishing
the building, which became their headquarters in October, with a classroom, meeting and gallery
space. The center was occupied by the Canyon Lake Art Supply, the Coe Savage Studio, Sandy Ross
Greystone Gallery, and Crow Creative Arts.
In 1987, the center was renamed The Art of Texas under ownership of Patsy Ledbetter. The
business included an Art Supply, Country Store/Gallery and artists’ studios. When the Art of Texas
moved to Hancock Plaza on Hwy. 306 in 1992, the Guild also moved to a space there. Later,
meetings and classes were held at the Art of Texas, and shows were held at the Plaza. For a short
while, the Guild was at the Bradley Building in Sattler, then relocated to the Action Center for
several years of meetings and activities. Shows have been held there and at various locations around
the lake. Over the years, membership in the Guild has grown and declined as the population moved
into and on to other endeavors.
Around the turn of the millennium, Kathy
Scrivener designed an artist at an easel and put
Canyon Lake Art Guild on the canvas. In 2004,
the Guild adopted this character as their official
2001 found the Guild meeting at the
Action Center in Sattler, Texas, and showing their
work there. Meetings and luncheons were held at
this location as well as special occasion
Canyon Lake Art Guild has happily grown
in recent years and now claims membership of
more than 75. The Guild celebrated their 20th
Anniversary at the June Art Show in 2004,
recognizing four of the original organizers.
In 2005, the Guild meets at the GVTC
Auditorium with a social time, business meeting
and a demonstration either by one of their own
members or a local professional artist. The Guild
holds an annual judged Art Show at the New
Braunfels Art League Gallery and also shares the
evening of festivities with the Women in
Business of Canyon Lake at the Art and Fashion
Show held each spring. Presently, the Guild participates in the CRRC Market Days twice a year.
Paint Days are held monthly at the Garden Gate Restaurant in Sattler where their members gather
to paint and discuss art. Paint Days and meetings are a non threatening environment and everyone
Professional artists and aspiring artists are not the only members of the Canyon Lake Art
Guild. Many art patrons enliven their membership and bring their own version of creativity to the
mix. All are welcomed at the meetings and the atmosphere is one of acceptance and encouragement.
Presidents of the Canyon Lake Art Guild are as follow:
1984 Grant Lathe
1985 Kathei Markham
1986 Leveata Griffin
1987 Imogene Howard
1988 Katy Scrivener
1989 Roy Ann Vicars
1990 Burke Douglas
1991 Eldora Criswell
1992 Ann Waldner
1993 Eldora Criswell
1994 Jean Blair
1995-1996 Bernadine Roop
1997-1998 Charlotte Jones
1999-2001 Carol Bryant
2002-2003 Marjorie Bohlinger
2004-2005 Kathy Perales
Compiled by Pat Kirkpatrick and Kathy Perales - May 1, 2005
Charter Members of the Canyon Lake Art Guild , Coe
Savage, Sandy Ross Parks, Shirley Lindenbaurm, and Pat
Kirkpatrick were honored at the annual Art Show held in
June of 2004.
Orphans on the Guadalupe - this heritage play, written by
Roberta Elliott, was produced seven times between 1979
and 1995, consistently featuring W. T. “Tom” Henderson
(in black hat) as Rev. Louis Ervendberg, one of the early
founding fathers of New Braunfels.
Circle Arts Theatre
Founded in 1968 by Elizabeth Elliott under
its original name, Community Actors Theatre,
Circle Arts is a non-profit theatre located on
Elizabeth Ave. in Landa Park, in a building that
was originally an old grain warehouse.
The theatre is dedicated to “the affirmation
of life through the pursuit of excellence in the
performing arts, and also through community
service,” providing annual scholarships to
graduating seniors, benefit performances for other
local non-profit organizations, educational theatre tours to the schools of Central Texas, stage
training for all ages, and support of local businesses.
The Theatre’s philosophy is - “Professionalism is not a category for payment, but an attitude
From a single show in the summer of ‘69, Calamity Jane, the theatre now produces five
shows per season. The first few years’ productions were staged in an old exhibition hall at the fair
grounds, and properties were stored in board members’ garages.
In 1971, the Wurstfest Association asked the theatre to perform an old time melodrama in
the city-owned warehouse they leased (which Circle Arts now calls home).
During the first year of occupancy, the lease was divided among three entities: Wurstfest
Association for a month and a half through the
middle of November, the Chamber for the next four
and a half months (until April for winter visitors),
and Circle Arts for the remaining months. In 1972,
the theatre opened its first five month season with a
production of O Men! O Women! It was May 11,
the night of the great flood! The following weekend
the house was packed.
At the end of that year, the winter tourists
were no longer interested in the building, and about
five years later, the Wurstfest Association
relinquished its lease and thus the theatre’s lease
was extended to accommodate a year long season.
1994 - Little Shop of Horrors - starring Paul Padilla,
and one of the theatre’s highly successful musicals.
1986 - The Runner Stumbles a mystery starred
Daryl Fleming and Maggie Mills. 1978 - Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew
created the first nightly sold out houses in the
theatre’s history, Featured from left, Kenneth
Triesch, Mike Mullins, Earl Leaverton, Greg
Dial, Jennifer Lackey.
To date, the theatre has implemented close to $64,000 worth of repairs and renovations,
vastly upgrading the value of the city-owned building it leases.
Circle Arts has the distinction of being the first statechartered,
on-going, live theatre of New Braunfels, and at
the current date, is entering its 38th season. The variety of
offerings has included Shakespeare, human comedies,
drama, mysteries, fantasies, and original melodramas. In short, being faithful to its name, Circle Arts
has tried to encompass all forms of theatre experience. To date, the theatre has produced 139 major
productions, 34 melodramas, and ten children’s theatre shows (other than those of the Inner Circle).
1981- Seascape the first place winner in Texas State
competition of non-profit theatres, starred W. T. “Tom”
Henderson, Bobbie Karpinski, Greg Weston and Carol
In 1979 the theatre received a grant from the Texas
Commission on the Arts for its Youth Enrichment Program and
gained subsequent high marks from the Commission on making
that program self-sustaining.
In February of ‘81, Circle Arts won First Place in the state competition, the Texas Festival
of Community Theatres, with its production of Edward Albee’s Seascape. In 1985, it won the Quad
III Festival (with San Antonio Little Theatre), which gave the opportunity to perform at the Dallas
Theatre Center with the seven other finest theatres in the state.
In March of 1988, the theatre held a Twentieth Anniversary Gala at the Civic Center, with
a catered meal serving close to 300 patrons. The guest celebrity was Morgan Woodward of
Hollywood, long-time featured actor on “Gunsmoke” and “Dallas” to name but a few. In January
‘93, a Silver Anniversary Gala was celebrated at the Civic Center, with live performances and a large
screen video showing the hits of the preceding 25 years.
On January 31, 1997, a production of Greetings! was presented at the Quad III Festival of
Texas Non-profit Theatres (TNT), and won not only the right to proceed to the state level, but also,
the only standing ovation from the other competing theatres.
In August ‘97, the theatre proudly added a ramp for the handicapped to its home.
In March 03, its TNT contest entry, Haiku, proceeded to state and won The Audience
Acclaim Award as well as an award for Excellence in Lighting & Sound, and First Alternate to
1986 - The drama Equis starring Robby
Houde was dedicated to the Challenger
astronauts who lost their lives in its
2004 - Smoke on the Mountain - another smash musical featured from
left, Patrick Pope, Carol Bissett, Yesinia McNett, W. W. “Tom”
Henderson, Jason Rodriguez, Jimmy Jimenez, and Robin Williams.
Founding Executive Director, Elizabeth Elliott
Studied under Dr. Frank Jarrett of Trinity University,...Twenty-five major roles to her
credit,...Has written seven musical revues, which she brought on tour to the Texas
Lions Camp for crippled children,...Authored 12 of our original Wurstfest
melodramas,... Directed 97 of the theatre’s 139 major productions to date,... initiated
the County-wide Poetry Contest, Caroling on the Plaza and Dinner with the Arts,
coordinating both the latter events for the Greater New Braunfels Arts Council,
which she served as president on four occasions... served for eight years on TNT
Board of Governors (the state organization of community theatres,... is listed in
“International Who’s Who in Poetry”,... was presented with the First Lifetime
Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the Greater New Braunfels Arts
Council - January 1990,... was named Woman of the Year in the Arts (for 1989) by
the San Antonio Express-News, March 1990,... wrote a weekly column, “The
Art of the Matter” for five years for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.
Artistic/Technical Director, Roberta Elliott
Graduate of Trinity University, with major degrees in Theatre and Comparative
Religion,...serves as Business Manager, and Artistic/Technical Director of Circle Arts
Theatre,...has designed choreography for 19 musicals,...written 18 children’s plays for
the Fantasy Factory, nine of the Wurstfest melodramas,...authored the heritage drama,
Orphans on the Guadalupe, and the 1983 contest play, Windows are Only Solid
Air,...nine major/lead roles to her credit, including those in The Miracle Worker, The
Rainmaker, And a Nightingale Sang, Quilters, Crimes of the Heart, A...My Name is
Alice, and Nell in Haiku, the contest play which proceeded to state.
Artistic/Technical Associate, Robin Williams
Graduate of University of Texas in Austin, with B.F.A. in Theatre Studies with
certification in Theatre and Mathematics,... has directed Dinner with the Arts for three
years,... has received three of Circle Arts’ Spotlight Awards, as well as its Standing
Ovation Award in 2003,...has choreographed eight major musicals, as well as
designing for the Inner Circle and Fantasy Factory classes, which she teaches,... Thirty
major roles to her credit, including those in Smoke on the Mountain, Sanders Family
Christmas, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and the Cat in Seussical,... has directed one
major production, The Prisoner of Second Avenue.
Circle Arts Theatre is a member of: The Greater New Braunfels Arts Council, American
Association of Community Theatres, The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Texas Nonprofit
Theatres; and the San Antonio Theatre Coalition.
In addition to a year long season of productions, the theatre provides:
The Fantasy Factory - a school of acting for children (ages 7 -14) with a spring and
fall semester. Tuition depends on the length of the class;
The Inner Circle - youth repertory company for ages 14 - 18, trained and directed by
Roberta Elliott, brings live theatre to the schools of Comal and surrounding counties.
The shows consist of “life lessons” or a taste of the classics.
First Nighters Party - each opening night performance (except Wurstfest melodrama)
is followed by a catered champagne party.
Red Carpet Night - annual awards event honoring volunteers and upper contributors
on the opening night of the first show of the season.
Season Passes - designed for holiday giving and sold only during November through
January 15, they have provided a 30% savings off box office admission.
Says founder Elizabeth Elliott, “Participation at Circle Arts, whether onstage, backstage, or
offstage, is open to all those with willing hands and hearts, determined to strive always for the highest
standards, while experiencing the joy of creating theatre.”
For information call 830-620-4848 or visit the website at
Comal Community Band
Crossing the lines of age,
gender and occupation to create a
diverse group, local musicians have
pooled their talents to make up the
Comal Community Band. While the
band does include several current and
past band directors and professional
musicians, the majority of the band
are amateurs. Averaging about 60
members, the group was originally
organized in 1981 by Larry Correll,
former Canyon High School band
director, in conjunction with the
Comal Independent School District’s
Community Education program.
Arlen Tieken took over the
baton in 1983 and served as the director of the Community Band for 10 years. He stepped down from
the position in 1992, at which time the baton was passed to Ken McGuire. Under McGuire’s
guidance, the band was designated by the New Braunfels City Council as the official musical
ambassador of this area for the 750th anniversary of the founding of Braunfels, Germany. The group
traveled to Germany in July 1996, for this celebration, giving several concerts in Braunfels, the sister
city of New Braunfels, Texas. The baton was again passed in 1997, to Joe Rogers, then in 2000, to
Michael Thielen, and in 2003, the current director, Fred Baetge.
The band’s main emphasis is to entertain the local audience and tourists by varying its music
for each occasion, as well as to provide local musicians an opportunity to use their musical talents and
Performing as an American show band, the musical group has a large repertoire that includes
show tunes, rousing marches, classical arrangements, military theme songs, jazz tunes from Dixieland
to 40's style swing, and seasonal music. For many years, the band has played for the opening
ceremonies of Wurstfest as well as several times during the 10 day festival. Wassailfest, the
downtown New Braunfels Christmas tree lighting, Folkfest, Wein & Säengerfest, and 4th of July
celebrations are just a few of the community events for which this band provides lively entertainment.
This is strictly a volunteer, non-profit organization. No auditions are required, but basic
musicianship is essential. Updated information on the band and its performance schedule can be
viewed on its web site.
Compania de Danza Folklorica
Then and Now ... Giving others the opportunity to enhance, enrich Mexican Folk
history and culture through dance by making it available to all.
La Compania de Danza Folklorica was established as a non-profit organization in 1982. The
founder of the organization was Mrs. Janie Cantu, who acted as founding director. Mrs. Mary
Paniagua, served as co-director.
After only one year Mrs. Cantu stepped down and Mrs. Mary Paniagua has remained director
for the past 23 years. The organization has remained true to its original purpose and not swayed from
its philosophy of making the folkloric dance opportunity available to all interested. The fee for dance
class is minimal and due to the shortage of young men dancers their dance lessons are free. The
costumes are elaborate, colorful, beautiful and traditional. These costumes all historically represent
a particular region in various states in Mexico. The costumes consist of headpieces, sombreros,
dresses, shirts, pants, skirts, mantillas, aprons, fans, and rebosos. Props such as water glasses and
knives and most importantly, shoes are used..
On any given Wednesday afternoon, you can hear those shoes in a backroom of Mrs.
Paniagua’s home which she has converted into a makeshift dance studio. The sound of all the young
dancers and teachers pounding their folkloric dance shoes with their gripping soles and nails on their
The State of Chiapas - 1992 Indian Dancing at Eden Heights, New Braunfels, TX -
heel and tip resound through the Paniagua
home. The family and friends all have
grown accustomed to the sound of
Mariachi Music, dancers, teachers, and
traffic in and out of the dance studio as
different dance age groups enter and
leave.. The family continues to eat dinner,
talk on the phone, and watch television,
and everything else every other American
family does with loving tolerances of their
mother’s vision growing in the dance
studio next door.
Through the years there have been
many key people that have helped the
organization grow and flourish. One of the milestones that the organization has had to endure is the
loss of instructors. One of the instructors in the beginnings of the organization died due to a terminal
illness. His sister continued and moved from student to instructor for a remaining 15 years. Mrs.
Paniagua herself and her family were also struck with a tragedy in 1990 when their home caught fire
and they lost many items. Miraculously, the dance group was spared from total destruction because
many of the costumes were out on loan to the young dancers in training getting ready for a
performance. However, the dance music was not spared or so the Paniagua family thought.
As Mrs. Paniagua rummaged through the smoke damaged materials, she found the tapes that
contained all the dance music in a box. Mary feared that they were ruined, however many of them
were usable, as she is quoted as saying “by the grace of the Good Lord
At present time the students teach each other. Compania de Danza Folklorica has had quite
a history with a line of talent coming directly from the Paniagua family. Some of the Paniagua
children have come from learning, performing, teaching, traveling, retiring and returning as teens and
college graduates. Eva Paniagua has been one of the key family members. She began dancing at the
age of five and even though she has been away at college she still dances today for her sorority group.
She had quite an experience once, performing for a Youth Detention Center. Eva entered the
detention center with all eyes on her. She never feared her audience before. Using her years of
experience performing in front of many large groups, she soon won over her hostile audience. She
will be returning to New Braunfels soon to finish her medical studies in San Antonio and the group
will be glad to have her as their new instructor for the younger as well as the advanced group.
The dance group has also had generational talent too. The group is fortunate to have had
Michelle Castilleja Crayton performing since she was a teen as well as an adult married with three
children. Not only has Michelle been a performer, she has also been the instructor for the past couple
of years until Paniagua returns from college to take over.
Compania de Danza Folklorica in San Luis Potosi, Mexico - 1996
Opportunities for Involvement and Participation/Activities
Guest and Family
and Community Involvement
Personal Family and
Personal, Family, and
By Request and
By Request and
By Request and
By Request and
By Special Request
By Special Request,
Tradition and Entertainment
By Special Request
Gemischter Chor Harmonie - Gegruendet 1937
German immigrants, led by Prince Carl Solms of Braunfels, Germany, came by way of
Indianola along the Guadalupe River to the Comal Springs in 1845. Amidst pestilence of new insects,
snakes, thorns, brambles, marauding natives and severe weather, survivors remained focused and kept
their priorities straight. Before the first building was erected, Hermann Seele started a school under
a tree, with music undoubtedly a major part of the curriculum.
Giving up security and many comforts of the old country, these settlers adapted to their new
harsh environment, and soon formed singing groups. Nostalgically remembering the good old days
in the “Vaterland,” they sang familiar songs handed down from many great composers of classical
and folk tunes. In a mere five years, the New Braunfelsers organized the first formal German singing
group in Texas, the “Germania” singing society, on 2 March 1850. By 1853 (16-17 October), New
Braunfels hosted the first singing festival of the German Texas State Singers League. Almost every
German community had a singing group and they all came to celebrate with song, orchestral dances,
dinners, plays, parades led by brass bands, and gleeful “Gemütlichkeit.” So popular were these
singing groups and festivities, that new umbrella organizations had to formed, such as the West-
Texanischen Gebirgs Sängerbund in 1881.
The Civil War, WWI and WWII all caused membership declines, but German singing
societies bounced back with renewed fervor each time. Eventually, New Braunfels had 16 singing
groups. The last new one to be formed was the Gemischter Chor Harmonie in 1937, with 46 men
and women singers. In 1938, Harmonie joined the Texanischer Gebirgs Sängerbund, encompassing
societies in San Antonio, Fredericksburg, and towns in between. Additionally, it joined the Comal
Sängerbund. In 1952, the Chor grew to 60 members, and was recognized as one of the strongest
mixed choirs in the region. New members were competitively selected, and voted on by the
membership with a system of black and white balls secretively placed in a special box.
However, with the aging of original singers, fewer families speaking German at home, and
the arrival of television competing for entertainment, membership began to subside in the mid to late
50’s. In 1985, Gemischter Chor Harmonie experienced what could have been a fatal blow, when
its original director, Gilbert Becker, died just before the Fall Sängerfest.
Fortunately, William Kretzmeier, already established as a high school choir director, accepted
the directorship on short notice. Under his guidance, Gemischter Chor Harmonie remained viable,
though small, as the other local singing groups faded away, emerging in the 90’s as the only one
remaining active in the New Braunfels area. By 1991, only 22 singers appeared for a festival in
Fredericksburg, and “talk was, we needed more singers.” At the 1995 festival in New Braunfels, Lola
Engelke Schuman remained the sole charter member. At the 2001 Sängerfest, again hosted by the
locals, Klaus Rochwalsky was the only performing bass singer on the roster.
In his own words, Mr. Kretzmeier graciously provides his perspective since 1985:
“I became director of Harmonie upon the death of Gilbert Becker in 1985, about a
month before Sängerfest. At the time, there were around 18-20 members. We met at
Sängerhalle each Wednesday at 7:30 PM. The schedule was to visit – drink beer –
from 7:30 to 8:00; sing from 8:00 to 9:00; break – drink beer – for 20-30 minutes, and
resume singing until 10:00 or so. I told them I couldn’t work with that, since I had to
get a decent night’s sleep, having to teach the next day. So we began singing at 7:30
and stopped at 9:00 PM.
“Harmonie was as much a social club as it was a singing society. The members had
known each other since childhood, several of them having been schoolmates, and
many were related by blood or marriage. They had grown up around singing societies,
and when they came of age, they joined. The distractions of the modern culture –
radio, television – were not there to dilute their culture, which has happened to the
younger generations, unfortunately.
“At Christmas, we would have a party with ‘covered dish’ – what else? Great food!
We would sing Christmas songs in German, and exchange gifts. Some of the ladies
insisted that we begin practicing the songs as early as October, which was silly
because we sang the same songs every year, and everybody knew them from memory.
I tried to introduce some new songs for Christmas and was told rather bluntly that ‘We
have been singing these songs forever’ and ‘We don’t need all this new foolishness!’
“We would take January off because the Hall was uncomfortably cold, and the frugal
Germans were not about to turn the heat on. Sometimes December and February
weren’t much better. I remember more than a few rehearsals when the steam would
come from the singers’ mouths as they sang. Rehearsals during the summer,
particularly in August, were also miserable - because of the heat. There was no A/C.
Which brings us to the problem of the Hall itself.
“The menfolks ran the hall, kept the books – secretly helped by wives and children –
kept the hall clean, mowed the grass, handled the renting of the hall for special
occasions, etc. Those rentals went a long way toward paying for taxes and other
In today’s world, non-air-conditioned halls are difficult to rent out, so for the
most part, the hall wasn’t bringing in any income from May through September.
Also, the men weren’t getting any younger, and found it more and more difficult to
handle. These people were trying very hard to hold on to the way things were, but
time, age, and circumstances made that impossible. So eventually, the old Sängerhalle
“We had one year to move out of the Hall, and wound up having our meetings
at Eden Home. It was quite an adjustment, especially for those who liked their beer.
From my perspective, it was a good thing for several reasons: 1) We didn’t freeze in
the winter and sweat in the summer. 2) Everybody stayed sober – some of the
members used to show up at the hall an hour early, and by meeting time they were
pretty well snockered.
“Membership had been slowly, but steadily dwindling. At one time, we were
down to nine singers. Some passed away, others ‘became passive’ – they kept their
membership but didn’t sing. We were not getting new members. Then in 2000, a new
guy named Roy began recruiting younger people. They started coming, and most of
them stuck. That pattern of growth has been going on for the past 5 years.
“With the influx of new people, several problems arose. The older members
resented this intrusion, and the aggressiveness of the ‘new’ people made the ‘oldies’
nervous. Several of the new people were big ‘huggers’ though, and their open
expressions of affection melted the ice. As a result, our group has become much more
active. From 1985 to 1999, the only performances we did were the yearly Sängerfests.
Now, we sing for local and regional audiences quite often, as well as singing at two
Sängerfests each year.”
* * * * *
Serving as Presidents of Gemischter Chor Harmonie since 1937 have been Chris Herry,
1937-59; Arno Bartels 1961; Frau Egon (Lola) Engelke, 1952, ’53, ’59, ’66 and 1978; Agnes
Lehmann, 1981-84, 1993-95, and 2001; Raymond Porter 1988, 1990-91; Carrol Belton, 1997-98;
Rev. Albert Buhl, 2000-01; Roy Knippa, 2002-04; Erna Dietert, 2005.
Pianists served as follows: Roma Koepp Martin, 1939; Jane Wiedner, 1941; Hilda
Schwamkrug, 1952-53; Lillian Wunderlich, 1958-66; Heidi Reeh, 1971-2002; Grace Dwyer, 2003.
Helen Mittenzwei Fesler, recruited in 2003 by the director, continues to serve, with the Chor’s warm
There have only been two directors in the entire history of Gemischter Chor Harmonie. Mr.
Gilbert Becker served faithfully from the founding of the choir in 1937 until his death in 1985.
William Kretzmeier has continued to serve since 1985 to the present, with dedication and distinction.
Zentenarfeier des Deutschen Gesanges in New Braunfels, 1853-1953
100 Anniversary edition th of NeuBraunfelser Zeitung, Vol. 100, No. 53
Selected Sängerfest Festschrifts since 1937
Personal Interviews and thanks to: Viola Porter, Lillian Wunderlich, Raymond and Lulu Salge, Agnes Lehmann Buhl,
Rev. Albert Buhl, Alice Schaefer, Virginia Baker, Mary Jane Stafford, and especially, Wm. Kretzmeier.
The German American Society has had a booth at Wurstfest
since 1990 and sells souvenirs from Germany, maps, glasses,
jewelry, music tapes and chicken noses.
The German American Society
The German American Society was founded in October 1978 by Dr. Verne & Helga Schmidt,
Dr. H. T. & Beulah Engelhardt and W. Frank & Helgard Suhr. The goals of the society are to
promote the awareness and preservation of the German Heritage in Comal County. The membership
is largely drawn from the New Braunfels area, but some members live in other states and Germany.
The German American Society sponsors the annual Maskenball, an old German tradition, teaches
German language classes to adults and children twice a year and has awarded scholarships to three
local high school students in past years.
The Society promotes close ties to our sister city, Braunfels, Germany, and sponsors many
cultural exchanges, such as three concerts with Tenor Dieter Schnerring, a musical revue with the
Ensemble Kolorit from Leipzig, and a choral concert with the famous Kreuz-Chor from Dresden.
Also, the Velberter Kinderchor, the Rheinlandchor, the Schönbeckchor, the Wiesbadener Chor, and
a choir from Siegburg were brought to New Braunfels by the society. A Youth Orchestra from the
Hunsrück and a Youth Jazz band from Dortmund performed in New Braunfels. In the classical field,
the society organized a Mandolin and Guitar concert and had the famous Chor Cölnisches Orchestra
and their choir perform at the Civic Center in 1985.
The annual Maskenball (Mardi Gras Dance) has been held since 1979 and upholds an old
From left: Stephanie Taylor, Helgard Suhr,
Marshall Henderson, Waltraut Henderson, and
Helga Bryant from San Marcos.
The German American Society sponsors concerts and provides housing to visitors thus
building better relations between Texans and Germans. One of our highlights was the visit of
Ambassador Dr. Peter Hermes and the General Counsel from Houston, Dr. Elisabeth Linsmeer. This
group toured New Braunfels and was hosted at a banquet at the Hotel Faust. The German American
Society meets every first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Citizen Center, but does not
meet in June, July and August.
Installation of officers for the year 1988. From left: David Riedel, David
Schönvogel, Helgard Suhr, President Bob Schima, Vice-president Carol
Greater New Braunfels Arts Council
How It Began
In 1979, interest in establishing a local arts council was promoted by Candy Lapaglia and
Barbara Way, both involved in and supportive of the arts in our community. There was some
resistance to their efforts due to the negative information about the operation of other arts councils
across the State.
In 1980, however, it became apparent that an individual organization’s arts council would
eventually be spring boarded into a community arts council. It was then that Elizabeth Elliott called
together the small group of persons (representing different arts and cultural organizations) who had
been considering the formation of an arts council. Present were: Candy Lapaglia, Barbara Way,
Edward Dedeke, Betty Stratemann, Stephany Goodbread and Elizabeth Elliott. At that meeting, it
was decided that if the community were to have an arts council, the members of the arts community
should design, implement, and control its destiny.
Edward Dedeke drafted the Articles of Confederation, and the six persons named above
became the Greater New Braunfels Arts Council’s initial board of directors. The Articles were
notarized May 9, 1980. On May 19, 1980, Elizabeth Elliott delivered the Articles to the State capitol,
and the State Charter was received on the same day.
The Council was designed to be an umbrella organization, a coalition of local arts and cultural
organizations, each one to be represented on the board by a single representative. Initially, there were
also three directors at-large; currently, there are five directors at-large, elected from the general
The initial purpose was to encourage and develop local arts, to provide further community
enrichment by bringing arts events that were not available locally, and to unite the coalition’s efforts
for strong political influence in assuring a healthy arts environment. That purpose remains the same.
How It Grew
From the initial coalition of four arts and cultural organizations in 1980, the number grew to
six by 1983, and by the end of 1983, the ranks almost doubled to a total of 11 member organizations.
By 1988, the Council was 20 members strong, having welcomed by that time the Sophienburg
Museum, and the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture. In 1990, the Conservation Society, the
Sophienburg Museum and the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture left the Council to form their
own Historic Museums Association of New Braunfels. Since that time, organizational membership
has fluctuated and now stands at 13.
In 1983, the Council hired a part-time Arts Administrator to produce the bi-monthly
newsletter, publicize all Council events, increase the Council’s profile, take responsibility for
incoming and outgoing mail, help prepare board meetings and gather grant information. As of this
writing the Council does not employ an Arts Administrator.
Downtown Association Membership
In 1995, the Council joined the Downtown Association.
Annual Events Created and Sponsored by
The Arts Council
Caroling on the Plaza since 1981 (formerly Holiday Community Sing) Caroling on the Plaza
happens in mid-December on the downtown Main Plaza, currently attracting 200 to 300 citizens to
sing together in the celebration of brotherhood.
Poetry Contest is usually held during the months
of February and March with winners being awarded at the
General Membership Meeting in April. The first poetry
contest was held in 1982 1982. A record number of
entries were received in 1995 with 629 poems reviewed
by the three judges. Previous records were set in the 330-
350 range. Poetry is solicited from four groups: 4 and 5 grades, th th middle school, high school and
adults residing in Comal County, attending a Comal County or New Braunfels School, or residing in
Caroling on the Plaza - 2001
2005 Lynne M. Elliott award winner Tarah
the City of New Braunfels. Monetary awards and passes are awarded to the first, second and third
place winners and to the winner of the Lynne M. Elliott Memorial Award.
Dinner with the Arts (the annual celebration of the arts) is a dinner theatre event, happening
every January since 1980 at the Civic Center, and offering a catered meal and a show containing vocal
and instrumental music, poetry, dance, drama, and exhibits of visual art.
Annual Arts Awards are given to a maximum
of three individuals and one business at the Dinner with
the Arts to those persons who have demonstrated
outstanding participation in and support of the arts.
The awards were begun in 1990. That same year,
awards also were presented to those who earned
Emeritus Honors. That tradition has continued.
Presentation of Touring Arts - In keeping with
the Council’s purpose to “provide that medium of
artistic expression not available locally,” it has on
several occasions brought touring companies to
New Braunfels: Texas Opera Theatre, Austin Civic
Ballet, Famous People Players, El Portal de
Nopaltepec in La Pastorela (a free event to the
public), and Repercussion Theatre from Montreal
Canada. Most recently the Council has sponsored
The Moscow Boys Chorus, The Royal Shakespeare
Company from London, and the Woods and
Strings Puppet Theater. It has been the Council’s
Dinner with the Arts 2005 - Deep in the Art of
Dinner with the Arts 2005
Dinner with the Arts 2005 - Left to Right: President
Veronica Sarkozi, Emeritus Awardees: Linda Jacobson,
Carol Bissett, Business Awardee Mark Warnken, and
Individual Arts Awardees of the year Bobbie and Bob
Landrum, and Vice-president Dennis Hermes
goal to sponsor such an event annually, but conflicts in scheduling often prevent that from happening.
Arts Olympics - This event was intended to gain new respect for those who achieve
excellence in the visual and performing arts. Initiated in 1990, the first Arts Olympics met with
modest participation, but failed to generate interest for the event the following year. GNBAC
directors agreed the idea was worthy of more consideration.
Wassailfest - In 1994, the Arts Council joined with the New Braunfels Art League to
participate in the Downtown Association’s Wassailfest. Competing in the Best Wassail contest,
GNBAC members greeted guests who visited the Art League’s Gallery and discussed the benefits of
membership. The event is held in December.
Cinco de Mayo - An event brought to local
schools by GNBAC to honor and increase
awareness of a part of Mexican history. The event
is held during a school day as close to the 5th of
May (Cinco de Mayo) as possible.
Cinco de Mayo Performance
GNBAC ANNUAL AWARDS RECIPIENTS
1990 Texas Commerce Bank
1991 Rhoads Interiors
1992 KGNB/KNBT Radio
1995 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
1996 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
1997 Texas Commerce Bank
1998 Tip Top Cleaners
1999 Johnson Furniture Company
2001 Diversified Light and Sound
2002 Das Plant Haus
2004 KGNB/KNBT Radio
2005 All-Star Printing and Publishing
1990 Jan Kennady
1991 Pat Deltz
1992 Agnes Lehmann
1993 Ethel Saur
1994 Jane Haas
Ella May Breckenridge
1995 Mary Beth Smith
1996 Karen Crandall
1997 Harry Myers
1998 Candy Lapaglia
1999 Cathy Clark
2000 Cynthia Myers
2001 C. B. “Mac” McCoy
2002 Joy Lindsey
2003 Caroline Weston
2004 Wayne Rahe
2005 Bob and Bobbie Landrum
1990 Elizabeth Elliott
1991 Carolyn Burrow
1992 Roberta Elliott
1997 Betty Lou Rushing
1998 Elaine Felder
2002 Veronica Sarkozi
1990 Thelma Schleyer
1991 Barbara Tieken
Betty Lou Rushing
1992 Lois Gerhardt
1993 Walter Faust
1994 Jim Mercer
1995 Bob Kliefoth
Jo Ann Lemmon
1996 Theresa Walter
1997 Ann Kleeman
1998 Baron Schlameus
1999 Bobbye Streightoff
2000 Zada Jahnsen
2001 Wayne Rahe
2001 Pauline Reynolds
2002 Cheryl Fisher
2003 Dana Scheel
2004 Anita Windecker
Rosa Linda DeLaCerda
2005 Carol Bissett
Historic Outdoor Art Gallery
The concept of painting historic outdoor murals developed out of the Design Review Board
of Main Street in the early fall of 1995 when Anna Margaret Alexander brought in a Smithsonian
magazine showcasing the Chemainus Murals in Canada. This small community was destined to
become a ghost town with the closing of the lumber industry in the early 1980’s, when Karl Schutz,
a German cabinet maker living in Chemainus, began their historic outdoor mural program in that
community. Their mural program went on to become a tremendous success and put that community
on the map as an artistic and cultural tourist destination.
Anna Margaret Alexander and Wayne Rahe set up the initial presentation meeting in January
of 1996 with well over one hundred people present. Sandy Kelley joined the group at that time. They
raised the funds to bring Karl Schutz to our community for a week in May of 1996 as a consultant for
creating historic murals here. Mr. Schultz felt New Braunfels had a rich and colorful history to portray
in this exciting art form, and we could successfully accomplish our goals of 1) helping with
revitalization of the downtown historic district, uniting art and business, and 2) teaching local history
through art. Mary Anne Hollmig, Cheryl Fisher, Jerry Berry Mostyn, Paul Tadlock, Caroline Weston
and Christina Ryrholm joined the committee during the May activities to help make this group a
reality. Through the generous assistance of Brenda Borchers Chapman, Judge and Attorney, and Rick
Reed, CPA, the paperwork was submitted to form a non-profit status. The Outdoor Gallery of Art of
New Braunfels, Incorporated name was selected with the revision to reflect historic subject matter;
thus the name of Historic Outdoor Art Gallery/N.B., Inc. The Internal Revenue Service approved the
non-profit 501(c)(3) status in July 1996.
Historians Mary Anne Hollmig and Rosemarie Leissner Gregory supplied historic information
pertaining to the founding of this community, and thus the German colonization in Texas. The board
consensus was to have this founding of our city as the subject matter of the first mural. The necessary
funds, all of which were private money, with the largest amount through an anonymous donation,
were secured by late fall of 1998. After interviewing a number of mural artists, Clinton Baermann of
Llano, Texas, was selected. After being supplied with all historic information, Clinton presented the
board a rendering which was his artistic vision of the subject matter. Work began on the mural
entitled “City of a Prince” in early December 1998. The site selected was the Pfeuffer-Holm Building
on the corner of Castell Avenue and W. San Antonio Street, only two blocks from the actual
encampment of the first settlers. The mural was dedicated on the founding day of March 21 in 1999;
one hundred fifty four years after the founding date of March 21st, 1845. The mural was completed
and signed April 30, 1999. The concept of outdoor murals initially brought some degree of
opposition, but once this 32 foot by 156 foot pictorial was completed, most everyone expressed pride
and appreciation for this educational form of art. Reproduction artwork of the original rendering
generated funds to permanently light the mural for night time viewing.