Thursday, October 31, 2002
Steamboat Springs It's hard to think of anything in the Yampa Valley that has been around for 500 years, short of the mountains and the streams. Most trees aren't even that age.
But when the Vienna Boys Choir comes to Steamboat Springs for the first time on Nov. 7, a reputation of more than 500 years of respected existence comes with it.
Actually, in European choir standards, 500 years makes the choirboys seem a little, well, young: The choir at Chartres reportedly goes back to the 5th century.
But who's counting years in Steamboat? Especially because the Vienna Boys Choir is considered the most famous choir in the world and is coming to this little city. Plus, the boys will even subdue to a question-and-answer session after the show.
Created by decree of the Hapsburg Emperor in 1498, the choir has connections to Europe's most illustrious musical figures, such as Mozart, Schubert and Bruckner, just to name a few.
For more than 400 years, it performed exclusively for the Imperial Austrian Court. Today, the group is split into four choirs of 24 members each, ranging in ages from 10 to 14 (any older and their voices change). The four choirs tour extensively on six continents. Usually, two choirs tour while two stay in Vienna to sing at the weekly Sunday Mass in the Imperial Church.
Choirmaster and former Vienna Choir boy Robert Rieder conducts the choir coming to Steamboat. The boys will sing a program of music that ranges from the 16th century to the present.
But the question still remains, how did the Vienna Boys Choir manage to book a gig in Steamboat Springs?
Not surprisingly, Strings in the Mountains had something to do with it.
The nonprofit group is bringing the Vienna Boys Choir to town as part of an effort to extend its programming through the winter. Executive Director Betse Grassby was looking for the perfect concert to bring to Steamboat and found that the Vienna Boys Choir was touring in Colorado.
"When I found out that we could (bring) them, I felt it was just a wonderful opportunity," Grassby said. "They really are the greatest choir in the world, I think."
The choir's Colorado tour begins in Steamboat and continues with performances in Littleton and Breckenridge and concluding at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
"These kids grow up to be some of the major influences of classical music in the world," Grassby said.
In March, Strings also will bring the Glen Miller Orchestra to Steamboat as part of its effort to expand. If both shows are well attended, it's a good possibility Strings in the Mountains will book more winter shows next year.
"We want to see if the community will support some winter programming," Grassby said.