Christmas from Vienna

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Christmas music and the Vienna Boys Choir are a magical combination. Their concert at George Mason University on Friday begins with a procession like those seen in the great cathedrals and churches of Europe. Before the evening ends, they will have sung music ranging from Gregorian chants to contemporary numbers backed by one of the boys playing a guitar.

"If Mozart had a guitar, he would have played it," said Kerem Sezen, conductor of the Haydn choir for the past 10 years. "We enjoy a big variety of music throughout the year. For our Christmas concerts, we like to sing music that represents many styles and nations. Our carols are from Germany, Austria, France and other European nations, as well as the United States. The choir will sing one carol from the Netherlands in Dutch and a piece by Benjamin Britten. There are some chapel pieces from the Baroque and Classical periods and even contemporary songs by Billy Joel and Freddie Mercury. It's important to remember that Mozart and his contemporaries once were the youngsters of their time, so it's not hard to imagine that today's popular hits, like Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' will be recognized as classics two centuries from now."

The Haydn choir is one of four choirs that rehearse, perform and tour the world as the Vienna Boys Choir. Like the three other choirs, each named for a great Austrian composer, it has 25 members. Historically, they date back to the boys choirs of the Viennese Court in the late 15th century. Today, the members live and attend grammar school at Palais Augarten in Vienna.

In addition to concerts abroad and throughout Europe, they perform Sunday Mass at the Imperial Chapel with the Vienna Philharmonic and the men's chorus of the Vienna State Opera. One choir is always in Vienna, while the others may be performing at festivals, presenting concerts abroad or touring internationally. An annual highlight for each choir is the 11-week tour.

Onstage
Vienna Boys Choir: 'Christmas in Vienna'
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts Concert Hall, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Info: $25 to $50; 888-945-2468; cfa.gmu.edu

"The boys all love going on the international tours. During the past 10 years, I've taken the choir on tours through Europe, the USA, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand. The cities of the United States and Europe have similar stores and traditions, but the Asian cultures are very different. My favorite experiences have to do with meeting open-hearted people everywhere," Sezen said.

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