Friday, October 20, 2017

Interview Feature: Prof. Gerald Wirth from the Vienna Boys Choir (11-15 Jan 2017)

While the Vienna Boys Choir has performed in Singapore numerous times, this upcoming event will see their presence on a much larger scale - with a week (11 to 15 January) filled with activities including talks, seminars, workshops and even opportunities for local kids to perform with them! (more information at

The Mad Scene speaks to artistic director Prof. Gerald Wirth about what to expect from their week in Singapore. Prof. Wirth got his musical start with the Vienna Boys Choir as a child, before going on to study piano, oboe, and vocal music at the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz and leading many children's choir. He is looking forward to spending a week with fellow Singaporean musicians young and old in January. Here's what we discussed:

The Mad Scene: Hi Professor Wirth! Thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene! Firstly, while the Vienna Boys’ Choir have regularly performed in Singapore, what can we expect in the concert programme this time that is different from previous years?

Professor Gerald Wirth: We are very much looking forward to performing in Singapore again. I’ve been there first when I was a little boy. This time, we are also bringing a fairly new conductor who originates from Brazil; therefore we will be performing some Brazilian music in addition to the typical Austrian music. We’re also looking forward to perform with choirs from Singapore and with the children’s and youth orchestra.

The Mad Scene: What in your opinion sets the Vienna Boys’ Choir apart from other boys or children’s choir?

Professor Gerald Wirth: There are several things. Number one, we are a boys club where we only tour with treble choir. Most of the boy choirs are traditional boy choirs organisations that tour with tenors and bass. Secondly, we are probably the boys’ choir or children’s choir that tours the most in the entire world. I don’t think there is any choir that has more accomplishments than we do.

The Mad Scene: You received your musical start as a member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir too. How has being part of the choir shaped your vision today as a musician and its artistic director?

Professor Gerald Wirth: Well, of course as a child in this age between 9 and 15, before puberty, we are shaped by the people around us and therefore many aspects of my thinking, of my life, especially of my way of making music was shaped by my conductor at the time, by the artistic director from that time and also the love of music. It was due to the Vienna Boys’ Choir that I continued with a musical profession.

The Mad Scene: How are the boys selected from among the other members for the Singapore tour? Do they have to go for auditions?

Professor Gerald Wirth: Well, in our organisation, we have four touring groups who tour the world at different times and the one that was selected to come to Singapore is selected to do the touring in that time period.

The Mad Scene: While Singapore has seen many concerts by the Vienna Boys’ Choir, this is the first time that you will be hosting workshops and getting local singers to perform alongside. What do you hope to get out of the workshops with local conductors and teachers, as well as child singers?

Professor Gerald Wirth: When we do workshops, it’s always an interaction it’s not a one-way street. We always gain something from the workshop by coming in contact with the other participants. It is also important for our organisation because it increases our base of audience for future years. Most importantly, it gives the boys who are with us in Singapore a chance to remember it much more strongly because of the interaction with local children.

The Mad Scene: Thank you. Lastly, how does one manage to travel internationally while taking care of such a large group of boys?

Professor Gerald Wirth: Well, it helps that we have accumulated quite a long time of experience! Having done many tours in the last decades, we have teams who are prepared and are professionally-trained to look after the boys, so this combination of trained professionals and experience makes it possible and not too difficult at all.

The Mad Scene: Wow, thank you so much for taking this interview! We look forward to your coming to Singapore and wish you all the best and success.

Professor Gerald Wirth: Thank you very much. We’re looking forward to coming to Singapore!

Here is a list activities of the Singapore Vienna Boys Choir's. Please check out for a complete list of activities.

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