Vienna Boys Choir Presents ‘Christmas in Vienna’ at Center for the Arts

Posted: December 14, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: December 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Since its founding more than five centuries ago, the Vienna Boys Choir has been synonymous with choral music, delighting audiences across the globe with its purity of tone, distinctive charm and a crowd-pleasing repertoire that encompasses Austrian folk songs and waltzes, classical masterpieces, beloved pop songs and holiday favorites.

Vienna Boys Choir returns to Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 19, at 4 p.m., with “Christmas in Vienna.”

The Vienna Boys Choir formed more than half a millennium ago in 1498, when Emperor Maximilian I moved his court and musicians from Innsbruck, Austria, to Vienna and requested that the court musicians add six young boys to sing the soprano and alto parts during church services.

From the start, the choir attracted Europe’s leading classical composers, including Franz Biber, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Joseph and Michael Haydn and even Mozart, who became composer of the court in 1787.

Franz Schubert was a member of the choir from 1808–13 and is considered the most famous “choir boy.” For more than 400 years, the choir sang exclusively for Masses, concerts and state functions at the imperial court until 1918, when the Habsburg Empire fell and the Austrian government took over all musical organizations in the court, except the Vienna Boys Choir.

In the 1920s, Josef Schnitt established the choir as a private institution, and to pay for the boys’ upkeep, the choir began to give concerts outside the chapel. Within a year, the choir was performing in Berlin and soon all over the world.

Today, the Vienna Boys Choir’s school and residence is located in the restored 18th century Augarten Palace, which provides space for classes, rehearsals, housing and recreation.

The ensemble consists of 100 choristers between the ages of 10 and 14 divided into four touring choirs that give approximately 300 concerts a year all over the world. The Vienna Boys Choir has made countless recordings featuring sacred music; traditional Viennese operettas, waltzes and polkas; Christmas albums; folk songs; and even an album of popular music featuring Beatles and Madonna covers.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

Tickets are $48, $40 and $24; tickets are half price for youth through grade 12 when the child is accompanied by an adult. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu.

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