Choir full of moans a surprise hit in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A German choir that has strung together a list of everyday gripes about everything from lousy weather and bad services to poor leaders and unfaithful husbands has become a musical hit in a country that loves to complain.

The Cologne-based group of 140 amateur musicians travels the city, happily singing their tale of woes to unsuspecting rail commuters and passers-by as well as filling the prestigious 1,500-seat Cologne Philharmonie for a special performance.

“It was an honor to have the choir perform here and we hope that politicians take the issues to heart,” said Othmar Gimpel, a spokesman at the Cologne Philharmonic.

Poking fun at the pleasure many Germans seem to take at being unhappy about something, the choir bills itself as the world’s largest “complaint choir” and has become part of a trend that has spread around the world.

It began when a group of musical moaners from Finland set up the first such ensemble in Birmingham, England in 2005.

“If you compare Germany to any other European country, especially on the Mediterranean, the Germans have an exceptional inclination when it comes to moaning and groaning,” said Detlev Liepmann, a psychology professor at Berlin’s Free University.

Liepmann said he does not have representative empirical data to support that theory, but said Germans are known far and wide as a population of chronic complainers.

“From the weather to the economy everything seems to be worth grumbling about in Germany,” he said.

The choir has enjoyed widespread media coverage in Germany, with the singers wearing serious looks on their faces as they belt out their lines of frustration in delightfully deadpan style to instrumental accompaniment.

“What better way to release your frustration?” German magazine Stern asks. “Everyone in Germany loves a good moan.”

Although the choir was originally intended to be a temporary project, the moan-music has proved so popular that composer Wolfgang Kaets has announced more performances are planned.

“We want to offer everyone a chance to sing their troubles off their chests,” Kaets told Stern.

Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Paul Casciato