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Review: From classical to standards, Vienna Boys Choir mastered them all

11.20.15
Vienna Boys Choir
Omaha World Herald

The Vienna Boys Choir was in town Thursday night, and their clear, pure tones probably still are floating over the seats at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

The Holland, with its exquisite acoustics, was the perfect venue for the 23-member group of boys ages 10 to 14, conducted by Bomi Kim. They don’t have a big sound, by any means, but their clear harmonies and goosebump-inducing high notes soared across the room.

The program couldn’t have been more versatile. The first half was dedicated to classical works from the 16th century composer Claudio Monteverdi up to “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” an English carol traced to the 1830s and arranged by contemporary British composer John Rutter. The second part of the show was devoted to Christmas music old and new, started off by a glorious chant “Hodie Christus natus est” and ending with “Joy to the World.”

They mastered such works as four excerpts from “Come Ye Sons of Art,” an ode by 17th century English composer Henry Purcell in honor of Queen Mary II’s birthday. A duet on one of the excerpts, “Strike the Viol,” was especially lovely.

The duet was one of many chances the boys had to distinguish themselves. Solos included a poignant version of “He Shall Feed His Flock” from George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah” and “O Holy Night,” featuring an unbelievable high note that made me gasp.

“Ave Marias” were prominent on the program. A boy sang the famous Franz Schubert version with the diction, confidence and stage presence of someone much older. The entire choir sang “Ave Maria” written by Camille Saint-Saens in 1865 — and that lush, tuneful version might be my new favorite. I was wishing the choir could stay over for Sunday Mass at my church.

Kim really got into her role as the accompanist, swaying with the songs and adding flourishes while still managing to direct her singers to clip off their notes at the same time. She brought a lot of joy to the proceedings. The boys, too, were a little less formal than I imagined they would be. Several took the microphone to introduce songs and weren’t rigidly stiff while performing.

The crowd rewarded the choir with several bravos and a standing ovation, and the choir gave it right back with an “Adeste Fideles” sing-along. 

Read the rest of the review here