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The Singer

Hanna Deutschmann is a singer in the choir of the University of Bremen. She has an alto voice full of passion for music. Two years ago, she stood together with 4,000 other singers for the first time on the market square in Bremen to sing the 11 songs of the music festival "Bremen so frei".

Hanna Deutschmann is studying cultural sciences and German language and literature and has written an unconventional bachelor’s thesis. Originally, the thesis was supposed to be a scientific analysis of dragon representations in children’s and youth literature as an indicator for transcultural processes. “I love dragons,” says Hanna Deutschmann, and she slides up the left sleeve of her turquoise shirt as proof. A meticulously tattooed specimen is there gazing out, inspired by Chinese culture. She’s been to China before with the university choir.

“A Great Gift”

But no matter how violently the dragons hissed and spit fire, Hanna Deutschmann decided to change her plans. Although she is an experienced chorister, musically educated, a player in “Carmina Burana,” and the founder of an a cappella pop choir – the Ukelalas – the “Mitsingfest” (“sing-along festival”) was something of a revival experience for her. “Was’n echten Bremer ist” (“what a real Bremer is”) became her favorite song right away. “I felt invited to be from Bremen,” says Hanna Deutschmann. She wasn’t born and raised on the Weser, but in the village of Christkinddorf Himmelpforten, near Stade. Did the song do something to her? Did singing in a large community changed something? On June 3, 2017, she wrote in her diary: The “Bremen so frei” festival was “a great gift.”

Analyzing Her Personal Experiences

At the second Mitsingfest, on June 1, 2018, Hanna Deutschmann took a closer look. She took notes, drew up minutes, and spoke with choir members and the university music director Susanne Gläß, who conducted the masses in front of the town hall. It had been clear to her for quite some time that “Bremen so frei” would become the topic of her bachelor’s thesis. Now the work is finished. Dr. Jan Oberg from the Department of Anthropology is her main adviser. The exact title is “Bremen so frei – für alle? Wie das Fest in 11 Liedern helfen kann, die Ortsbindung von Neubremerinnen und Neubremern zu stärken” (“Bremen so free – for everyone? How the festival in 11 songs can help to strengthen the local ties of new Bremer women and men”). “I chose an autoethnographic approach,” explains the 29-year-old, which means that she describes personal experiences and analyzes them.

Why Does Singing Make People Happy?

As scientists do, Hanna Deutschmann has underpinned her observations and surveys with theories. Her theoretical reasoning is anchored in the concept that a person’s bonds to a place is a human-spatial relationship – a concept proposed by Professor Reuber from Münster. With Professor Gunter Kreutz from Oldenburg, she found explanations of why singing makes people happy. The release of the “social hormone” oxytocin, which is stimulated by singing together, plays an important role. Her fellow choir member Ana Paola Loose Martinez de Castro says in an interview that she was encouraged to feel like a native of Bremen by the passage “Was’n echten Bremer ist, der ist vielleicht ganz fern von hier gebor’n” (“what a real Bremer is might be someone born far away”). She is originally from Mexico. “Yes, I’m from Mexico and from Bremen,” she says. In the end, the result of the thesis was that the “Bremen so frei” sing-along festival can actually have an effect on new residents’ ties to Bremen.

Learned a Lot about History

Hanna Deutschmann has given her bachelor’s thesis some unusual packaging: it looks like a glossy magazine, with numerous photos of the two music festivals and a lively layout. She created this herself using the program InDesign. Now she is looking forward to the next festival and the 11 songs that she will sing with the choir and the many other people on the market square in Bremen in four-part harmony. “In the process, I have benefited personally and learned a lot about Bremen’s history,” she says. Historical personalities such as Johann Smidt or Lüder von Bentheim are no longer strangers to her. She is now also familiar with the story of how Bremen received its Linzer Diplom, the document that gave the city its independence.

And What Hanna Deutschmann Is Looking forward To

The sing-along festival for everyone who loves Bremen: The “Bremen so frei” festival will be held once again this year on Saturday, June 1, at 10:30 a.m., on the market square in Bremen. Sheet music can be downloaded at www.bremen-so-frei.de. All interested parties are invited to a public workshop at the University of Bremen under the direction of the university’s music director Susanne Gläß in the GW1 auditorium (across from the Universum) on Sunday, May 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. The songs are learned in unison. Participation is free of charge. Music reading skills are not required.

Contact:

Hanna Deutschmann
Choir of the University of Bremen
E-mail: han_deu@uni-bremen.de       

 

portrait of a young woman
Hanna Deutschmann is looking forward to the next music festival "Bremen so frei".