Today, the Vienna Boys Choir consists of 100 boys between the ages of ten and fourteen, from dozens of nations, divided into four touring groups. Each group spends nine to eleven weeks of the school year on tour. Between them, the four choirs give 300 concerts and performances each year before almost half a million people. They visit virtually all European countries, and are frequent guests in Asia, Australia, and the Americas.
The Vienna Boys Choir has a close association with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Together with members of the orchestra and the men of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, the 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 2016, the choir participated for the sixth time in the New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.
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, as do the choir's own arrangements of quintessentially Viennese music like waltzes and polkas by Lanner, Lehár, and Strauss.
The Vienna Boys Choir performs major choral and symphonic works as part of the Hofmusikkapelle, and with other orchestras and adult choirs. They are regularly asked to supply soloists for large choral and orchestral works, such as Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. Both the choir and the Chapel Imperial have a long tradition of commissioning new works, going back to Imperial times, when composers like Mozart, Haydn, and Bruckner wrote for the ensemble. Austrian composers Heinz Kratochwil, Balduin Sulzer, Wolfram Wagner, and Gerald Wirth have written works for today's boys. Benjamin Britten penned a vaudeville which could be performed on tours, and Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin wrote her Land of Sweeping Plains for them. Over the last century, the choir has worked with some of the greatest conductors of the genre, for example Böhm, Furtwängler, Karajan, Mitropoulos, Toscanini, Walter, Bernstein, Boulez and Harnoncourt. In more recent times, the boys have been invited to collaborate with Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Marc Minkowski, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Christian Thielemann, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Simone Young and many others. The choir also takes part in opera performances at the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna Volksoper, and the Salzburg Festival.
The Choir School
The choir maintains its own schools. Almost 400 children and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 18 study and rehearse at Augartenpalais, a baroque palace and former imperial hunting lodge in Vienna. The choir runs its kindergarten - for both boys and girls - in cooperation with the city of Vienna, then continues its program for grades 1 through 4, providing an exceptional all-around education for boys and girls.
At age ten, the most talented boys are selected to join the Vienna Boys Choir and enter the choir's boys-only grammar school for grades 5 through 8. 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.
In 2010, the choir launched a new high school, for boys and girls grades 8 through 12. The school's unique curriculum was developed in conjunction with the Universities of Music in Vienna and in Salzburg; it is designed to help young singers find their voice, discover and develop their talents, and prepare for university.
Roughly a quarter of the school's alumni go on to become professional musicians, conductors, singers or instrumentalists. Almost all continue to sing. There are two adult vocal ensembles made up entirely of former choristers - the Chorus Viennensis, and the Imperial Chapel's Schola Cantorum, which specializes in Gregorian chant.
For more information about the Vienna Boy's Choir, please visit their website.
The Vienna Boy's Choir is represented by Opus 3 Artists.
All Saints' Chapel