The Vienna Boys Choir is one of the world's oldest choirs composed of purely young boys. It has been a known symbol of Austria for almost 500 years. It all started in 1498 when Emperor Maximilian I of Hasburg, through a letter, called the first 12 boys to the imperial court to become members of the court music band. The choir then was tasked to provide musical accompaniment to the church mass.
Today there are 100 choristers from 30 different nations between the ages of ten and fourteen, divided into four touring choirs. Among them, the four choirs give around 300 concerts and performances each year in front of almost half a million people. Each group spends nine to eleven weeks of the school year on tour. They visit virtually all European countries, and they are frequent guests in Asia, Australia and the Americas. Together with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the men of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, the Vienna Boys' Choir maintains the tradition of the imperial musicians: as Hofmusikkapelle (Chapel Imperial), they provide the music for the Sunday Mass in Vienna's Imperial Chapel as they have done since 1498. In 2012, the choir participated for the fifth time in the New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.
The choir maintains its own schools. Almost 400 children and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 18 study and rehearse in the Augartenpalais, a baroque palace and former imperial hunting lodge in Vienna. Beginning with kindergarten, run in cooperation with the city of Vienna, boys and girls are provided with an all-round education. At age ten, the most talented boys are selected to join the choir and enter the choir's grammar school. All boys are assigned to one of the touring choirs. Academic lessons are taught in small groups. The school offers extracurricular activities ranging from all kinds of sports to attending a wide range of concerts, operas, plays, musicals and movies. The choristers are also encouraged to create their own projects; some form their own bands, others create short skits or films. All choir boys live in the choir's well-appointed boarding school, with two to three boys sharing a room.
On Sundays, the boys perform with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Vienna State Opera Chorus in Vienna's Imperial Chapel, as they have done since 1498. In 2012, the choir opened its own concert hall, MuTh; the state-of-the art facility seats 400 and has proven highly popular with both artists and audience.
The choir's repertoire includes everything from medieval to contemporary music. Motets and lieder form the core of the touring repertoire, as do the choir's own arrangements of Viennese music. The choir also performs children's operas and world music.
The Vienna Boys Choir will have a tour in China from Sep.17 to Oct.7, 2019!