The Vienna Boys Choir (Wiener Sangerknaben in German) has been around since 1498. That’s a long time, but what a gifted musical tradition. Since 1918 the members (who range in age from 10-14) have made appearances aside from the royal court (where it all began), and in churches or for state occasions.
Now here’s something interesting. The Choir is divided into four sub-groups or touring choirs of about 25 singers each. The groups, we are assured, are of equal standing so that the tours, appearances in Vienna and recording projects are shared among them. Each choir has its own choirmaster plus two tutors who travel with them.
The choirs are named after famous Austrian composers associated with the group’s history, that is, composers they worked with in their long history — Anton Bruckner, Joseph and Michael Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert. The Choir still performs their music.
It looks as though the Akron area audience will be hearing the Haydn choir (Haydnchor) since choirmaster Kerem Sezen is the leader of this group and will be conducting.
The program the choir will present is divided with the first half featuring classical and religious works such as Michael Haydn’s “Anima Nostra” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “This Night.” Just so they don’t look too stuffy though, the Choir is also taking on Billy Joel (“The Longest Time”) and “Bohemian Rhapsody” from A Night at the Opera by rock legend Queen’s own Freddie Mercury.
The second half is more seasonal and folkish with a nod to international holiday tunes. The group will sing Englishman Benjamin Britten’s “Procession” from A Ceremony of Carols, “Es wird scho glei dumpa” (“It Will Be Dark Soon”), which is a lullaby from the Tyrol region of Austria, an English carol “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” by John Rutter, a French piece “Noel” by Jules Massenet, among other works. And, to lighten it up a bit, the Vienna Boys Choir will sing the ever popular “Jingle Bells” by American composer James Lord Pierpont.
The Vienna Boys Choir has performed before for Tuesday Musical, a Knight Arts grantee. As I recall, the audience was large and highly appreciative of this group dressed in outfits something like sailor suits while singing beautifully for their listeners. Having them at the holiday season also seems really appropriate and will make the appearance even more charming.
Vienna Boys Choir will appear for Tuesday Musical on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:30 p.m. in E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron; 330-972-7570; www.ejthomashall.com. Tickets cost from $25-$45.