Story by Miranda Champoux.
The von Trapps are performing at BYU-Idaho on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Oscar A. Kirkham Auditorium.
The performers, Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp are the great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp and are reinventing The Sound of Music legacy for the modern age, according to the Smithsonian Magazine website.
“Our career grew out of our love of singing and traveling,” said Amanda von Trapp, one of the members. “It was a very natural process, and we had a lot of support from our family. We started by making a CD for our grandfather when he couldn’t visit us in Montana in the summer like usual due to health issues.”
The von Trapp’s first CD, made in their Montana summer home in 2001, had Austrian folk songs their grandfather learned as a child, according to the BYU-I website.
Amanda von Trapp said it was an album full of all the songs their grandfather had taught them. After that, they began performing, and their performances became a full-time career.
“We sing and write music together a lot,” von Trapp said. “It’s good to practice hard so you can have fun during the shows. We rehearse the show a lot and are constantly looking for ways to improve arrangements and make the whole performance engaging and fun.”
Von Trapp said the style seems very different at first. The original songs from The Sound of Music are modernized to be more in touch with the current generation, but the songs are similar in theme.
“A lot of songs are dealing with emotions of wonder, and the arrangements are vocally advanced and carefully crafted,” von Trapp said. “We actually sing some of the songs they used to sing long before we were born, but they seem to fit in well with our music.”
Von Trapp said she loves being able to express and communicate feelings and ideas. She said the most rewarding thing is when a performer can tell how much someone connects with a song and they are enjoying it.
“Every audience has a unique personality and feel, so it’s a really fun challenge to see how they react to different songs and arrangements” von Trapp said. “There is a point when the artist and the audience are feeling the same energy, and the music comes alive for everyone. It’s an amazing feeling and plenty of motivation to keep performing and making music.”
Von Trapp said her family performs because they love music. The songs they share are special, and they love to share the experience with other people.
“It’s great to perform with siblings because we’re always on the same page while we’re singing and can use the connectedness to push the music further,” von Trapp said. “Of course, it can be challenging to travel for long periods of time as a family, but we respect and understand each other enough to make it work.”
Von Trapp said every song has a unique story behind it. She said anyone who loves music will enjoy the show.
“Some pieces in the show, such as Harmonist’s ‘Die Dorfmusik’ and the Japanese ‘Kuroneko no Tango’ are fascinating points in music history that we reinstate in our own way, while others are our own creative expressions that blend inter-genre influences with elements that are totally unique to us,” von Trapp said.
The von Trapp show includes 10 languages, all modernized versions of folk songs from Austria and different countries, according to the BYU-I website.
Von Trapp said her favorite experience was singing in Rwanda. They sang the Rwandan national anthem at a ceremony celebrating the newborn mountain gorillas in the gorilla sanctuary.
“The whole event took place high in the beautiful Virunga mountains, and there were a lot of amazing performers and dignitaries there supporting the conservation of the gorillas,” von Trapp said. “There was a really special energy about the location and people that made performing there unforgettable.”
Von Trapp said she is excited to perform and interact with BYU-I.
“If you haven’t guessed yet, we love exploring and experiencing new places and people, so we’re really excited to meet the new students of BYU-I,” von Trapp said.