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The German Cultural Center Santa Cruz was originally formed by German Emigrants as a singing group in the 1870s and officially incorporated in 1888 as the Arion Singing Society, a California 501(c)7 nonprofit, committed to preserving and promoting German and German-speaking culture, heritage and language through community connections.


Since the historical Arion Singing Societies are no longer widely known, and nowadays people are not familiar with Arion, the Greek God of music ( see below),  in 2022 our organization became the German Cultural Center Santa Cruz.

Our mission is: 

A. To foster the culture of literature and arts in the German language by presenting
live performances of traditional German art forms, providing experiences and information  
about the German culture, maintaining educational facilities for instruction and public performances of traditional German, Austrian, and Swiss art forms.
B. To provide public conversational German language groups and classes.
C. To provide libraries of German language materials open to the public.
D. To provide German music and singing groups.
E. To produce and offer concerts of classical German composers and concerts of
traditional German music.

Since 2019 we have provided a German library for the community.

Information about our library and our catalog of almost 2000 children's books, games, and other materials can be found at

Our collection of over 600 books, cookbooks, songbooks, and other materials for adults is also available for check out, but not cataloged. 



"The Arion Singing Society was named for the gifted musician of Greek mythology Arion who was the best citharist and poet of his time.  He lived in Corinth and Lesbos, Greece, and was held in friendship by King Periander (625-585 BC) who greatly admired his talent.  With hopes of becoming rich and famous, Arion decided to go on tour to Italy and Sicily where he was, indeed, a smashing success.  But, eventually, he grew homesick so he packed his instruments, costumes, and money and boarded a ship back to Corinth. 

Arion felt he was being sensibly cautious in trusting only a Corinthian ship to take him home; but, alas, there were thieves and brigands everywhere.  While at sea, the crew of the ship decided to steal his riches and kill him.  He begged for his life, but they only gave him a choice: kill yourself now and we will bury you when we get to shore, or jump overboard and be buried at sea.  To buy a little time, he asked for permission to sing a final song.  After he dressed in his finest costume, he took his kithara and sang the most beautiful song imaginable.  His voice was extraordinary; he sang high notes that few other humans could reach.  And then, he threw himself into the sea.


However, while Arion was singing, dolphins gathered around the ship, attracted by his magnificent music.  When he fell into the sea, one of the dolphins swam beneath him, lifted him out of the water, and carried him to shore on its back.  Eventually, Arion found his way back to Corinth and to King Periander who, upon hearing his story, rounded up the sailors who had tried to kill Arion and brought them to justice.


Arion is credited for inventing the dithyramb, a passionately lyrical hymn in honor of Dionysus, god of wine and revelry (called Bacchus by the Romans), probably first sung at feasts for the gods." - Adapted from Arion Singing Society -About Arion

About Arion    (rhymes with Orion)  1

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