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Vienna Boys Choir treats crowd to 'world class' performance

December 13, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN

The parishioners at St. Ann Catholic Church in Hagerstown had been waiting for Friday night for more than a year.

After all, it isn't often that an act as world-renowned as the Vienna Boys Choir comes to town.

Marie Nowakowski, a member of the church's Vienna Boys Choir Committee, said the group went to great lengths to pull off the event, which lasted about an hour and 45 minutes before a crowd of more than 680 Tri-State residents.

Nowakowski said some of the things that the committee did to prepare included renting a grand piano "at a considerable expense" and pulling together donations from local sponsors to keep the $30 ticket price affordable. The committee also had to arrange for security to keep the choir members safe, she said.

"This, by far, is the most spectacular (concert) we've ever had," Nowakowski said.

The Rev. C. Doug Kenney said St. Ann booked the choir in November 2007 after hearing it would be in the area and had an open date.

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The choir is to perform Sunday at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Kenney complimented Nowakowski and other members of the committee, especially Kathleen Murray and Sabina Spicher, for putting everything together.

"They beat the bushes to drum up sponsors and make it a classy evening," Kenney said.

As people waited in front of the church before the concert began, some could hear the faint, yet absolutely perfect sound of the choir warming up. They didn't seem to care about the near-freezing temperature.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Luis Dominguez of Falling Waters, W.Va. "Usually, you have to go to Baltimore or D.C. to experience something like this."

Dominguez' son, Luis, 9, said he was afraid at first that he would miss some Christmas specials on television, but would "rather be here."

The committee also had to hire a piano tuner to work with the choir's conductor before the show. J. Wallace McClure, owner of McClure's Piano Shop in Hagerstown, was given that task.

"It was very intense," McClure said. "This is a world-class musical performance. When an act like this comes into the area, the expectations are very high ... You have to be able to hear a pin drop."

Tania Jastrebov, company manager of the Vienna Boys Choir, said Hagerstown was one of 44 stops for the choir during a 9 1/2 week tour of the United States. After a concert Dec. 20, the boys, who range in age from 10 to 14, will return to Europe to spend the holidays with their families.

Jastrebov said there are four Vienna Boys Choirs, each with about 25 members. Two of the others are in Vienna and one is touring in Germany.

Only 20 of the 400 children who apply each year to be in the choir are chosen, she said.

Jastrebov said in addition to performing at famous venues, the choir sings in small towns.

"Some of the towns are much smaller than Hagerstown," Jastrebov said. "The people here in Hagerstown have been extremely hospitable. We really appreciate it."

Before the choir took the stage, they were treated to a lasagna dinner with bread and a variety of fruits.

The choir performed an eclectic selection. Some of the pieces included Puccini's "Humming Chorus," Schubert's "You are quiet, restful peace" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon.

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