Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Not what the Klangforum had in mind


Publicity is gearing up for a new house for music theatre that will open in Vienna’s 2nd district:


And this is what we’re talking by ‘music theatre’:


The real news here, before I get sidetracked into speculation about the possible correlation between that video and the lack of nationwide vetting for adults who work with children, is that a controversial new concert hall for the Vienna Boys’ Choir is set to open in December after years of protests from local residents (construction involved the paving over of green space in the Augarten, one of Vienna’s most historic parks). The opposition has certainly been colourful, with the establishment of an ‘Agitchor’ calling itself the singing ravens, or the Wiener Sängerraben (Vienna Boys’ Choir in German is Wiener Sängerknaben), and there will be a final futile demonstration this Sunday which I will drop in on for shits and giggles. Comparing themselves to the Occupy movement, the ‘Bürger vom Augartenspitz’ have won some concessions including listed status for the park’s baroque gates, which would have been demolished per the original plans. But construction has gone ahead, prompting ten year old Leander, son of one of the protestors and a participant in the choir’s extracurricular education programme, to declare to the Sängerknaben’s director: ‘I hope that there will be one person less visiting that stupid concert hall for every single branch you are sawing off!’ (more of the website in English, including a comparison of the new building to a US stealth bomber, here). The Occupy references come at the expense of hot shot investor Peter Pühringer, who has donated 12 million euros to build the hall and also provided enough capital to keep the place independently operational for 65 years, after which it will pass into state ownership. So far Pühringer has yet to enjoy the same results as a philanthropist as he has done as a financier: if the Musikverein’s new VW Rabbit of an organ, to which he contributed over a million euros, were one of his hedge funds its ROI losses would have been cut long ago.

The programme for the Augarten hall’s first season will be revealed in a press conference on November 9th, though it’s clear the inaugural concert will involve Franz Welser-Möst, the Wiener Philharmoniker, and Haydn. Franzi and Haydn ought to be safe, but the Thomanerchor these boys ain’t and a more entertaining time is likely to be had at this weekend’s Sängerrabenfest (programme here).

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