I went to see the Vienna Boys Choir on Friday night, kicking off an unheard of two consecutive nights of babysitters and going out with my husband.
Of course, the boy's voices sound like angels. I would like to say that as they began singing, the world as I know it receded and I was transported to another place. In a way that was true. Except that I began wondering about these boys as they stood before me in their sailor style white shirts and impeccable, shiny black shoes.
I'm a mom. It was bound to happen.
I wondered as they sang lyrics in Latin and German, if they actually knew what the lyrics meant or if they had simply learned them as a song. (I certainly didn't know what they were saying but fortunately, their voices are so melodious, I didn't really notice.) I wondered if in their training they had to learn multiple languages. Did their minds wander as they sang these songs?
I wondered how often and long the practices are. I wonder if they fiddle about in their practices whining that they'd rather be playing with their gameboy or other such electronic device?
Most of the boys are from mainly from Austria, but come from many other countries around the world.
How does one get 24 boys to stand still in one spot and do one thing for that long?
Even as focused as they seemed to be on the music, I could still see the impishness of the boys revealed through the occasional rocking of a foot or discreet scratching of the head , a small fidget of the fingers betrayed the fact that although they border on ethereal, they are still, in fact, boys. Not to mention the hair that looked as if they had taken time from their busy schedule of wrestling or napping to sing.
I learned from the program that the Vienna Boys Choir is a modern-day descendant of the boys' choirs of the Viennese Court, dating back to the late Middle Ages. The choir was, for practical purposes, established by a letter written by Maximilian Hapsburg on July 7, 1498.
The role of the choir was to provide musical accompaniment to the church mass. Because of a solid musical education through the choir, many go on to become professional musicians.
The choir is a private, not-for-profit organization composed now of approximately 100 choristers between the ages of ten to fourteen. There are four touring groups which perform about 300 concerts each year in front of almost 500,000 persons.
It really was lovely. I especially loved hearing the older classical Christmas carols. The ones you hear on the radio but never know the name of, like, New Christmas (I find that title hilarious considering it's a 15th century French carol.) and Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming, again, 15th century. I searched in vain for a youtube clip of the latter, because it was wonderous to hear and I wanted to share it with you.