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World-famous Vienna Boys Choir to perform at
UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Oct. 27, 2009

Conductor Manolo Cagnin with the Vienna Boys Choir
Conductor Manolo Cagnin with the Vienna Boys Choir (Photo by Lukas Beck)

EAU CLAIRE — The Vienna Boys Choir — one of the world's oldest choirs and among the most famous — will perform Nov. 10 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Returning to the Artists Series after 15 seasons, the celebrated ensemble will begin its concert at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from 6:45 p.m. until showtime and at intermission.

Boys have been singing at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor since the early 15th century. In 1498, more than half a millennium ago, Emperor Maximilian I moved his court and his court musicians to Vienna. He gave instructions that there were to be six singing boys among his musicians. Historians have settled on 1498 as the official foundation date of the Vienna Hofmusikkapelle and, in consequence, the Vienna Boys Choir. Until 1918 the choir sang exclusively for the Austrian Imperial court, at Mass, at private concerts and functions, and on state occasions.

From the time of its first visit to the United States in 1932, the Vienna Boys Choir has become one of the most popular choirs to tour North America. Today there are approximately 100 choristers between the ages of 10 and 14, divided into four touring choirs that give about 300 performances each year in front of almost half a million people. Each group spends nine to 11 weeks of the school year on tour.

The choir's repertoire includes everything from medieval to contemporary and experimental music. Motets and lieder for boys choir form the core of the touring repertoire, together with the choir's own arrangements of quintessentially Viennese music, waltzes and polkas. The Artists Series program includes music by Buxtehude, Mozart, Haydn, Fauré, Poulenc, Verdi, Strauss, Lanner and Brahms. A selection of music from around the world will range from folk songs from Korea, Russia, Italy, Carinthia and Tyrol to "If I Were a Rich Man" from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

Musicians like Heinrich Isaac, Paul Hofhaimer, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Johann Joseph Fux, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Caldara, Antonio Salieri and Anton Bruckner worked with the choir. Composers Jacobus Gallus and Franz Schubert, and conductors Hans Richter, Felix Mottl and Clemens Krauss were choristers. Brothers Joseph and Michael Haydn were members of the choir of St. Stephen's Cathedral and frequently sang with the imperial boys choir. Austrian composers Heinz Kratochwil, HK Gruber (a former chorister), Ernst Krenek and Balduin Sulzer have written works for the choir.

Together with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera Chorus, the Vienna Boys Choir maintains the tradition of the imperial musicians. They provide the music for the Sunday Mass in Vienna's Imperial Chapel, as they have done since 1498. Choristers also take part in opera performances at the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna Volksoper and the Salzburg Festival. Also singing popular music, they have contributed to a number of soundtracks for major motion pictures in the United States, Japan and Europe.

The Vienna Boys Choir will be conducted by Manolo Cagnin, who is making his first visit to North America with the boys. Gerald Wirth has been the choir's artistic director since 2001.

Tickets are $17 for the public, $15 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, or $7 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets for students are half-price, $3.50, up until the day of the event. On the day of the event, students must pay the full student-ticket price.

Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin. The series also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio, WHYS Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office of the University Centers.

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JS/DW

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