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VIENNA BOYS CHOIR BRINGS "CHRISTMAS IN VIENNA" TO GMU'S CENTER FOR THE ARTS
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS
VIENNA BOYS CHOIR
"CHRISTMAS IN VIENNA"
Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 8 p.m.
FAIRFAX, Va., Nov. 19, 2008—This amazing ensemble celebrates its 510th birthday this year, but its members don’t look a day over 14. For more than five centuries, the Vienna Boys Choir has been synonymous with choral music, and in a city that has fostered many of the greatest talents in music history, this choir continues to be one of the most recognized names and sounds in the world. Center audiences have the opportunity to witness these boys’ crystal clear angelic voices when the choir performs "Christmas in Vienna" at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Dec.19 at 8 p.m. “Theirs are the voices of Christmas, as pure as angels, as clear as the winter light. They sing of peace and happiness, of miracles and men, of the very spirit that defines the holiday season.” (Charles Passy, Ovation) A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.
In a program of holiday music from Gregorian chant and Renaissance motets, through modern Christmas carols like "White Christmas" and even "Jingle Bells" (in adorable German accents), this charming ensemble presents an evening of exceptionally beautiful singing that best exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas. “Astute control, delicious harmonies, exceptional soloists and beautiful music, all from a group of boys in sailor suits.” (Utica Observer Dispatch)
The Vienna Boys Choir was established in 1498, when the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I moved his imperial court from Innsbruck to Vienna, and issued an Imperial decree requiring young boys to sing the soprano and alto parts during church services in the Imperial chapel. From the start, the choir attracted Europe’s leading classical composers, including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Michael and Franz Josef Haydn, and even Mozart, who became Composer of the Court in 1787. Franz Schubert, a native of Vienna, was a member of the choir from 1808-13, and is considered the most famous “Choir Boy.”
After the Habsburg dynasty collapsed in 1918, there was a period of uncertainty, whether the choir would continue. In the 1920s, Josef Schnitt, Rector of the Imperial Chapel, reorganized the choir. In order to pay for the boys’ upkeep, the choir began to give concerts outside the Chapel. Within a year, the choir was performing in Berlin and soon all over the world. Under the artistic directorship of Felix Grossman, the Vienna Boys Choir developed its characteristic sound that has brought it international renown. The choir celebrated its 500th anniversary under the directorship of Grossman’s daughter, Agnes Grossman, who in 1996 became the first woman ever to hold this position.
Today, the Vienna Boys Choir’s school and residence has been located in the restored 18th century Augarten Palace, which provides space for classes, rehearsals, housing and recreation. The ensemble consists of four groups of 24 members each. They tour extensively throughout the world, with two groups touring at the same time, with at least one of the choirs remaining to perform weekly services at the Chapel and to sing in the Vienna State Opera.
The Vienna Boys Choir have made countless recordings for labels including BMG Classics, Capriccio, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Philips and Sony Classical, featuring sacred music; traditional Viennese operettas, waltzes and polkas; Christmas albums; folk songs and even an album of popular music featuring Beatles and Madonna covers.
The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.
Tickets for VIENNA BOYS CHOIR are $46, $38, $23. Family Friendly! Children 12 and under half price! Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa
GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.
About George Mason University
George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.