Musical siblings to perform locally during East Coast tour

Slovakian family to give Christmas concerts

Arundel Live

December 02, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

If singing families are the stuff of old movies, nobody told Milan Jendruch.

The Slovakian music teacher and his wife, Maria, have nine children -- all of them trained singers and musicians. Step aside Von Trapps, here come Surodenci Jendruchovci (the Jendruch siblings).

The children -- six daughters and three sons ranging in age from 7 to 22 -- play instruments and harmonize on religious, classical and folk songs in Slovak, German, Italian and English.

The family is scheduled to visit Maryland Dec. 9-12 for Christmas concerts in Annapolis, Severna Park and Carroll County as part of a five-week East Coast tour that will include stops in Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

"They are extremely talented. They evoke a lot of emotions in people," said R. Rodman Mann, a Severna Park resident who has coordinated the family's Maryland performances.

"You get a warm sense of responsibility, respect and love. That comes across in their music," he said.

The siblings have light, clear voices that blend like a choir on the upbeat tunes such as the popular "Castle on a Cloud" from "Les Miserables." And while listening to the violin solos and saxophone accents, it's surprising that all the music, too, is performed by their young hands.

Thomas, 22, plays piano and synthesizer; Lucia, 21, specializes in saxophone; 20-year-old Maria performs on clarinet, flute and acoustical guitar; and Matus, 19, plays trumpet, flute and synthesizer. Ruth, Petra, Alexandra and Deborah, ages 17, 16, 13 and 8, all play violin. Deborah also joins her 7-year-old brother, Filip, on the drums.

This is only the second time the Jendruchs have visited the United States -- they spent last summer on concert tour in Pennsylvania -- but their talent is well-known around their hometown of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Since their father formed the group in 1994, they have made three compact discs and performed more than 850 times in Europe and the United States, and on Slovak television, said the Rev. Jozef Kovacik, a priest from Altoona, Pa., who has come to be their American sponsor. Their concerts here will be from their latest CD, "Light," a collection of Christmas carols.

Kovacik first heard the family in July 1998 when he returned to his native Slovakia after attending a seminary to perform his first Mass. He said audiences are impressed not only by the family members' talent, but also by their personalities. Some followed the family from church to church as they performed last summer, he said.

The Jendruchs spent their savings -- about $20,000 -- to come the first time and made it up in donations at their performances, Kovacik said. This trip, they will continue their tradition of asking only donations at their free concerts.

"They're a religious family, and people see that there's just more than music, that they have a deep faith in God," he said.

"I was literally choked up for two full hours," Mann said, recalling the first concert he attended last summer. "I committed to them if they ever came back to the U.S. I would do whatever I could to get them to share their talent and love."

The Jendruchs will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at John Carroll High School in Harford County; at 4: 30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 11 for Mass at St. Mary's Church on Duke of Gloucester Street in Annapolis and at 8 p.m. for a concert; and at 3 p.m. Dec. 12 for a concert at St. Martin's In-The-Field Church, 375 Benfield Road in Severna Park. Admission is free at all venues. Information: 410-647-0005.

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