September 14, 2005
Vienna Choir Boys to entertain Nov. 1 in Brown Theatre
The Vienna Choir Boys, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in the world, is the featured entertainment Nov. 1 following the Cowley College Endowment Association’s annual banquet.
The choir will perform at 8 p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre inside the Brown Center on Cowley’s Arkansas City campus. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $5 for students K-12. They may be purchased at the Sid Regnier Bookstore, 207 W. Fifth Ave., or charge by phone by calling (620) 441-5277.
For nearly five hundred years, the Vienna Choir Boys have been a symbol of Austria. A founding document of Maximilian I in 1498 called the first dozen boys to the imperial court as members of the newly formed court music band. Thus he showed his great interest in contemporary musical developments in Burgundy and the Netherlands. Since then the Vienna Choir boys have been a fixed attraction in Austrian musical life.
Great composers and teachers have repeatedly improved the musical quality of the Vienna Choir Boys, including Isaac, Senfl, Caldara, Fux, Salieri, Joseph and Michael Haydn. Anton Bruckner, too, as court organist, rehearsed his own masses with the Vienna Choir Boys. If a performance went particularly well, it was his custom to reward the boys with cake. With the ending of the monarchy in 1918, the choir gave up its old name and the imperial uniform (to which a sword belonged). As early as 1924, the “Vienna Choir Boys” - reformed by the rector Joseph Schnitt, with great personal zeal - gave guest performances in the world’s most famous concert halls. Even in the days of the First Republic, they were regarded as Austria’s “singing ambassadors.”
Since those days the Vienna Choir Boys have given concerts under nearly all the great conductors of this century: Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti and Sir George Solti. And, as ever, every Sunday the Vienna Choir Boys sing solemn mass in Vienna's Hofburg chapel, continuing a tradition unbroken since 1498.
The group’s work includes “Christmas Favorites,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Christmas With the Vienna Choir Boys,” “Edelweiss,” “Ave Maria,” “The Complete Messiah,” and “The Best of The Vienna Choir Boys.”
Today there are around 100 choristers between the ages of 10 and 14, divided into four touring choirs. The four choirs give around 300 concerts and performances each year in front of almost half a million people. Each group spends nine to 11 weeks of the school year on tour. They visit virtually all European countries, and they are frequent guests in Asia, Australia and the Americas.
The choir is a private, not-for-profit organization. The eight members of the choir's governing body oversee its development and guarantee its future. Dr. Eugen Jesser became the choir's president in 2001, and its director in 2003. Gerald Wirth became the choir's artistic director in 2001.
The choir's repertoire includes everything from medieval to contemporary and experimental music. In the 1970s, the choir started to perform Heinz Kratochwil’s a cappella arrangements of Beatles' songs. In 2002, they recorded their first ever pop album; featuring songs by Madonna, Celine Dion and Robbie Williams. The best-selling CD was nominated for the 2003 Amadeus, the Austrian music award. The choir has contributed to a number of soundtracks in recent years, including Primal Fear ( USA 1996) and The 13th Floor ( USA 1999).