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Von Trapp children will sing at benefit here


The Havre High School auditorium will be alive with the sound of music next week, as the current generation of von Trapp singers comes to Havre.

This batch of von Trapps are the great-grandchildren of Capt. Georg and Maria von Trapp, whose musical family was immortalized in the "The Sound of Music."

The fourth son of Capt. Von Trapp, Werner von Trapp, is the grandfather of the current singing von Trapp children.

At first, the children's parents, Annie and Stefan von Trapp, were reluctant to put their children in the spotlight.

"We didn't want to expose our children publicly," Annie said. The parents changed their minds after realizing the joy their singing brings to others.

"We honestly didn't realize the magnitude that people felt and were affected by their singing," Annie said.

The children Sofia, 13, Melanie, 11, Amanda, 10, and Justin, 7 began singing at home, and it seemed to progress from there, Annie said. "They sang together and hummed little tunes around the house for forever."

They started singing for churches, friends and relatives, culminating with what they considered their first real performance at their grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary.

Now ready to start their first official tour this fall, the von Trapps are doing a few shows around the state this summer, including stops in some places the von Trapp family hasn't sung in since 1945, including Havre.

Annie von Trapp said her father-in-law often tells a story about that 1945 tour, how he and his family changed 11 flat tires in one day while traveling across Montana, because of the rough roads of the time and the scarcity of good tires because of the war.

The roads have improved since then, as has the von Trapps' relationship with Montana. Annie, Stefan, and the children now live in Somers, a small town outside of Kalispell.

They moved from Vermont on the basis of a quick trip Stefan made through Montana on a motorcycle during his 20s. He fell in love with Montana then, and moved his family here on a whim in 1990.

The children all love soccer and play on teams in Kalispell. They regularly sing at local churches, and this summer will be doing the rounds of worship services in Glacier National Park.

The show in town is a benefit for the Hi-Line Boys and Girls Club, which is to open next month. Annie said that friends of hers around the community asked them to come and sing, and when the family was asked to be a part of the Northern Showcase, everything just came together.

The concert is both a part of the Northern Showcase series of concerts in Havre and a fund-raiser for the club.

"It's just a fun thing we are doing for Havre," Annie said.

They also plan to do a benefit show in Great Falls for the Cystic Fibrosis Walk in July, as well as a book signing of "The World of the Trapp Family," a biography by William Anderson.

"They are giving honor to their grandparents" by appearing at the book signing, she said.

The von Trapp family has a history of community service, stretching back to when they first escaped Austria and came to America. Annie said the first von Trapp singers used to have benefit concerts during the war for the poor, usually just asking for clothing and food donations.

She thinks this is an important part of the von Trapp history, and would like it to be known.

"People love The Sound of Music,'" she said, "but they don't know how much the family did."

The von Trapp children have recently released their first CD. The CD first came about as a present for their grandfather, who had just had a stroke. They were assisted in the recording process by University of Montana professor Anne Basinski, who felt that their singing was good enough to go public. The album, simply titled "Vol. 1," incorporates classical, Austrian, German, sacred, Italian, Irish and Western folk songs, as well as songs from "The Sound of Music."

The concert starts at 7 p.m. June 20, and costs $12 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and $25 for a family of five. Tickets are available at the door.


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