Crowds fill the beautiful City

Vienna Boys Choir Austin

There are boy choirs with soaring, floating voices that engage and entrance their listeners, but only one has a 500-year tradition: the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

That choir — actually four touring choirs totalling some 100 singers ages 10 to 14 — brings that sound and tradition to Waco with a 7:30 p.m. Monday concert at Austin Avenue United Methodist Church, 1300 Austin Ave.

It’s the fourth time the boys’ choir has sung in Waco since a 2001 visit to the Waco Hippodrome and three years since the last one at Austin Avenue UMC. The choir, whose students live and study together in Vienna, trace their heritage to 1498, when Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I moved his court and musicians to Vienna.

Each visit pulls a crowd from across Central Texas, said Randy Umstead, Baylor University vocal professor and Austin Avenue UMC’s music director. “They’re not only one of the best (boys’ choirs), they’re one of the oldest, ” he said.

There’s a local connection for this visit, however: Directing the choir is Baylor graduate Jimmy Chiang. Chiang studied piano under Baylor artist-in-residence Krassimira Jordan during his years at Baylor and moved to Vienna, Austria, after graduation in 2000.

During his time in Vienna, Chiang expanded into conducting professional orchestras and opera theaters. He won the Lovro von Matacic International Competition for Young Conductors in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2007 and became conductor of the Vienna Boys’ Choir in 2013.

Based in Vienna, Chiang works as the principal conductor of the Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra of Hong Kong, to which he travels every third month to lead. Jordan will join him in Vienna in May when she will perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto with the Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra.

The a cappella choir’s Monday night program includes music inspired by sacred chant; gospel songs; numbers by Johann Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Aaron Copland and Rodgers and Hammerstein (a “Sound of Music” medley); and several international folk songs.

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