Christmas markets, festive decorations, and delicious treats – LOTS of treats – signify the holiday season in Vienna. But a Viennese Christmas would not be complete without the glorious sounds of the Vienna Boys Choir. Founded in 1498, the Vienna Boys Choir is one of the great musical ensembles in the Austrian capital.
Chicagoans have welcomed the famed choir to Symphony Center for a number of years to celebrate the holidays, and in 2017, the choir even performed in WFMT’s Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio. This year, we asked the choir members to select their favorite Christmas carols that they have performed. Find out why each young chorister loves performing their selected song, and enjoy the ultimate Christmas playlist from the Vienna Boys Choir below!
All photos courtesy of Lucas Beck/Vienna Boys Choir
"Omnes de Saba venient (Graduale)," by Joseph Eybler
"It was written for the Chapel Imperial in Vienna, about 200 years ago. It feels a bit like time travel, especially with the Latin text."
"Namo, Namo, Maria," by Bhajan from India
"It begins very slow and soft, with a soloist and just a few instruments. And when the choir joins in, it becomes really loud and full of energy!"
"Es wird scho glei dumpa" ("It will be dark soon"), Alpine shepherd carol, arr. Anton Reidinger
"I find it soothing, and the music suits the words. It makes me think of snow in the Alps in winter."
"Still, Still, Still," a sacred lullaby from Salzburg
"It has a rocking rhythm. It makes you feel warm and happy inside."
"Mariä Wiegenlied" ("Mary's Lullaby"), by Max Reger
"I have been singing it since I was really little, and I like the gentleness of it."
"Let it Snow," by Jule Styne
"It feels cozy and cheerful!"
"This Little Babe" from A Ceremony of Carols, by Benjamin Britten
"It is fast! The voices chase each other and you really have to pay attention to make it work."
"Maria durch ein Dornwald ging" ("Mary walked through a thornbrush"), processional carol, arr. H. Froschauer
"It is a very simple carol, and it feels sort of mysterious."
"Leise rieselt der Schnee" ("Softly Falls the Snow"), by Eduard Ebel
"Because it is so gentle and quiet. And sometimes I get to sing the solo part."
"Pulchra es" from Vespers, by Claudio Monteverdi
"It has a lovely melody."
"Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night"), by Franz Xaver Gruber
"It makes people happy. When you sing it, you know it is Christmas."
"Deo gracias" from A Ceremony of Carols, by Benjamin Britten
"It is lively, it has pizzazz, and it is never boring."
"Huron Carol," by Jean de Brébeuf
"It makes me think of the forest and snow."
"Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" ("A great and mighty wonder"), arr. Michael Praetorius
"I love the melody. It is festive!"
"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," by Johnny Marks
"Rudolph is fun! I love the story."
"Fröhliche Weihnacht überall" ("Merry Christmas Everywhere"), traditional carol
"I used to sing this in kindergarten, when I was really little."
"Jingle Bells," by James Pierpont
"It is like a swift sleigh ride, and I like the jazzy setting we sing."
"Engel auf den Feldern singen ("Angels We Have Heard On High"), French carol
"I have beautiful images in my head when I sing it."
"Virgo prudentissima," by Josquin
"It is soft and wraps around you like a blanket."
"Pueri concinite," by Johann Ritter von Herbeck
"It is a stunning solo, very romantic, with a background choir. People go very quiet when they hear it. I would love to sing that solo sometime."
"Carol of the Bells," by Mykola Leontovich
"It sounds mysterious, and it is really, really fast!"
"Jauchzet, Frohlocket" from Christmas Oratorio, by Johann Sebastian Bach
"It is festive, and makes me feel very happy. Like Christmas!"
"Jingle Bell Rock," by Joseph Beal and James Boothe
"I like the setting, and it is fun for the audience. They like it, too!"
"The First Nowell," traditional English carol
"To me, this is like being invited to a really posh party."