The Vienna Choir Boys, whose worldwide following is legion, return to Salt Lake City for a concert in Symphony Hall on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.
Their program will include seven pieces from Britten's "Ceremony of Carols," also music of Reger, Kodaly, Schubert, Poulenc and J. Strauss, and their ever popular-operetta. This year's attraction is "Old Vienna," which will be "a fully-costumed comedy complete with mistaken identity, romance, intrigue and a happy ending."Founded in 1498 by the Emperor Maximilian I to grace his imperial chapel, the choir boys school has helped to train some of the finest musicians of Europe. Probably the most famous choir boy was Franz Schubert, but Christoph Gluck, Amadeus Mozart, Josef Haydn and Anton Bruckner have all been associated with the school, either as singers, composers or organists.
With the collapse of the Hapsburg dynasty in 1918 the school and choir of the Imperial Chapel was threatened with extinction. But Joseph Schnitt, chaplain of the chapel, re-established the choir and laid the foundation upon which its present worldwide success is built.
Each of four touring choirs has 24 singers, accompanied by a choirmaster, a tutor and nurse. Their tours have brought them 45 times to America since 1932, also to Asia and Australia, South America and South Africa. They are also featured in films, recordings and television appearances.
Singing their sweet four-part treble arrangements in unchanged voices, the choir boys are the product of rigorous training. They have survived an audition for admittance to the school, which only one boy in four passes. After passing preparatory school they must attend boarding school, beginning at age 8, where they receive intensive academic and musical training.
About half survive the first two years, and each boy is then assigned to a choir at 10 years of age, where he will likely remain until 12 to 14 years old. When a boy's voice changes he cannot sing in the choir, but can continue at the choir's school in Vienna until he is 15.
Tickets ranging from $10-$17 are on sale at the Utah Symphony box office in Symphony Hall, 533-NOTE.