Known as one of the world’s greatest choirs, The Vienna Boys Choir has returned to Australia for a very special national tour from 9 September to 17 October 2012.
The Choir will perform at four Victorian venues this week, with concerts booked in Geelong: 27 September, Hamer Hall: 28 September, Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University: 29 September and Frankston: 30 September.
A highlight of the tour will include the premiere of a new Australian work: “Land of Sweeping Plains” by composer Elena Kats-Chernin (pictured above with the choir). Based on the much-loved Australian poem, My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, the piece has been specially commissioned by prolific arts producer Andrew McKinnon for the choir for this visit.
Mackellar wrote My Country at 19 in 1908 while homesick for Australia in England. The highly recognizable and much loved poem contains the iconic lines “I love a sunburnt country / A land of sweeping plains.” The language resonates with Kats-Chernin who was struck by the beauty, majesty and danger of Australia upon her arrival in 1975 from Moscow. Kats-Chernin has previously composed works inspired Australia’s magnificent landscape, such as her celebrated piece “Deep Sea Dreaming,” based on the Great Barrier Reef for the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Elena Kats-Chernin went to Vienna to rehearse with the young choir who she found to be very excited by their upcoming tour. “I love the clarity and agility of those voices. They can be bird-like as well as earthy, depending on the registers and there is much vocal colour to inspire a composer. VBC is an incredible ensemble, the perfection of their singing is second to none and I feel free to write challenging textures.”
“Land of Sweeping Plains” is featured on the new Vienna Boys Choir CD Jubilate Deo, released this month by ABC Classics. The recording also includes “Pie Jesu,” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem as well as a range of classical pieces from composers such as Mozart, Schubert and Strauss II, plus perennial Australian favourite “Waltzing Matilda.”
These pieces and many more will be heard in the choir’s first tour of Australia since 2005. Twenty-five choristers between the ages of 9 to 14 have been chosen from the 100 choristers who make up today’s Vienna Boys Choir.
The choir first visited Australia and New Zealand in 1934/35, which was the first decade in the choir’s 500-year history that they had given public concerts. The concerts began as a way to earn money to support the choir after it became a private institution, known as Wiener Sängerknaben, in 1921. The sailor suit costume was chosen at the time because it was then the height of boys’ fashion.
For further information see: www.viennaboyschoir.com.au