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The (Sound of) Music will never die

First, a “scoop”: When The Von Trapp Children perform on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the SM Mall Of Asia (MOA) Arena, they will be singing Bayan Ko a cappella, according to Danee Samonte (a.k.a. Steve O’Neal) who’s producing the concert — “And in four-part harmony at that,” he added.

Of course, we all love the Von Trapp family which is immortalized in the 1965 movie The Sound of Music which most of us must have seen perhaps a dozen times, with Julie Andrews (then with her vocal cords in tip-top shape) as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg Ritter Von Trapp. Forty years later, the Von Trapp’s musical legacy is carried on by The Von Trapp Children singing group composed of the Captain’s great-grandchildren Amanda, Melanie, Justin and Sofia. They perform a variety of folk and classical songs from various European and American traditions; and, yes, those from The Sound of Music.

Funfare did an exclusive e-mail interview the Von Trapp kids recently. Here are excerpts:

Any memories about your great-grandpa Von Trapp?

Amanda: Captain Georg von Trapp, our great grandfather, was such a courageous man. He loved his family and his country and stood up for what he believed in to protect his family and his faith. We are honored to come from such a legacy. I love hearing stories of his military history and of the family living in Salzburg. There are so many great stories from our family, especially some of the ones they have on tour because we share some of the same circumstances and musical environments. Sometimes we even perform in the same venues they did. It’s pretty fun to follow the trail they left while we create our own; it’s a wonderful history to come from and it has given us an incredible platform to contribute to the story’s continuation.

 Melanie: The Captain passed away even before my father was born but one of my favorite stories that I’ve heard about him was that he actually did use the whistles to call all of his children.

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Justin: Well, although it isn’t my own memory, one of my favorite stories was how he would have snowball fights with all of his children which for a man who was part of the aristocracy was very unusual and this showed how he always held what was important to him above what everyone else was doing. 

Sofia: The Captain and Maria von Trapp are our great grandparents but the youngest boy portrayed as Kurt in the movie is our grandfather. His real name is Werner von Trapp. We never met the Captain but we were very close with our grandfather. Actually, he taught us many songs growing up. My favorite memory of my grandfather was when we sang Mozart’s The Magic Flute for him because Mozart was his favorite composer. He liked it so much and had a huge smile on his face. 

It is a wonderful film that does a great job depicting our grandparents. The more we travel the world, the more we realize how The Sound of Music has been such a film of hope to so many people around the globe.

How did you find the movie? Have you met Julie Andrews or Christopher Plummer or any of the actors who play the Von Trapp children?

Amanda: We grew up with The Sound of Music just like everyone else but it took a little while for it to register that it was actually our family on the screen. The first time we ever saw the movie was when it was still on two separate cassette tapes. The movie is pretty long so we took a break between Tape One and Tape Two but lost tape two before we could finish it. It took us a while to finally recover the lost cassette but we figured the story ending well because we were alive. However, we still watched it often and grew up singing all the songs.

We finally met the whole cast in 2010 when we performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show for the 40th Anniversary of the film. It was really amazing for us to meet Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, they were extremely warm and we are grateful for the role they both played in our family’s story.

It was special to meet Julie Andrews because she had such an incredible voice and everyone always asks us “if we’ve met our great-grandmother, Julie Andrews?” It’s funny but now we can say we have. 

Melanie: The Sound of Music movie is very beautiful. I love the music and the scenery. The story is very similar to what happened to the family in real life; Maria did want to become a nun but was sent to take care of the von Trapp Children, and once she and the captain were married they began to sing all over the world.

Yes, we met the entire cast on the Oprah Show not too long ago! Julie Andrews is amazing, it was an honor to meet her along with the rest of the cast. They are like our second family! Oprah was really kind and it was so fun to meet her and be on her show before she stopped.

Justin: It is a rather beautiful movie, and has a timeless peacefulness. There are a lot of scenes that simply stick in your head and I find myself thinking of them when I least expect it. Yes! It was such an interesting experience to meet the actors who told the story of our family and made it world famous! It was a little like looking into a mirror, because they also seemed a bit like a family.

Sofia: Yes, we got to meet the whole cast from the movie, The Sound of Music. I really thought that Julie Andrews is such a beautiful and dignified lady.

What’s your favorite song from the movie and why?

Amanda: I like The Hills are Alive. It is the very first song in the film and has a lovely melody. One tradition that we carry on from the older generation is learning a traditional folk song of the country where we perform and we’ve been doing that since we started touring 11 years ago. We learned a popular Chinese New Year’s song for China, a beautiful Korean folk song and other songs we fell in love with in our travels around the world. A friend introduced us to a beautiful Filipino song called Bayan Ko and we are so excited to perform it when we come in December because it’s an absolutely gorgeous song. 

Melanie: My favorite song is Edelweiss; it is the most beautiful song of the film. Edelweiss has an interesting history behind the actual flower edelweiss. When a man loved a woman in Austria, it was a tradition that he would climb the alps to pick a flower for his loved one. Though it was a dangerous journey and sometimes he would never return, so to receive an edelweiss was a great symbol of love.

Justin: So Long Farewell. It has a really charming and catchy feel.  

Sofia: Edelweiss is my favorite song from the movie. Edelweiss has such a lovely melody and the words represent such a strong feeling of patriotism. 

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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