|Once in a generation or two, a gifted, charismatic leader emerges within a religious and ethnic community to leave an indelible cultural and spiritual legacy. Such a leader is a “Wegweiser ” (one who shows the way) for his people and changes the goal and direction of artistic and spiritual development for generations to come.
Ben Horch was such a leader in the sphere of music. His unique musical gifts were graced with an infectious personality and a genuine love and respect for people of all faiths and cultures. Truer than he knew, Ben’s family name – Horch – became a veritable metaphor for his life. He not only possessed a remarkable musical ear, but he always sought to hear the inner musical “heartbeat” of music students, fellow musicians, and of the choirs and congregations he worked with.
Dr. Peter Letkemann is eminently qualified to write this document. Astute musicologist, historian and an accomplished organist, Letkemann also writes with great clarity and delightful readability. As close friend of Ben and Esther Horch for many years, Letkemann came to understand and appreciate Horch’s musical, spiritual and intellectual outlooks as few others have.
For his extensive research materials, the author has scoured Mennonite historical archives, church records, materials from radio stations CFAM and CBC, Mennonite periodicals and other publications. Much of the anecdotal and testimonial material is based on interviews with members of the Horch clan dating back to the 1980s, and many former students, fellow musicians and close friends.
This historical document is a significant addition to the extensive bibliography in Mennonite history and biography, particularly in the areas of music and the arts. The Ben Horch Story will supply a rich fund of information for a fresh generation of scholars, authors and musical leaders. Former students, singers and orchestral players of Ben Horch, who loved and emulated him, will indeed be grateful to be alive to read this superbly written and engaging story.
George Wiebe, Mus. D
Professor Emeritus, Canadian Mennonite Bible College
5 September 2007