Saturday, May 9, 2009

I probably shouldn't have bothered a monk... after I made a previous comment about the monk taking a vow of silence in response to my request for information about their choir, Dom David of Downside Abbey did respond and thought it was an amusing comment.
He had passed my request on to their music director, Christopher Tambling, who is still being mum (so no down side Kelsey). Oh, well. I don’t want to annoy them because I understand they have friends in high places.


First was the CD of Silk Road by the Vienna Boy’s Choir, which I have mentioned in a previous post, but now I have the DVD of Silk Road. It's not what I expected but it's still really good. The premise is that they are going to make a movie and are deciding which boy will play the lead. The weird thing is that we never actually see the movie they are pretending to make.
There is no story line here, no plot. Instead, we get a fascinating look at the inner workings of the world of the Vienna Boys Choir. We see where they live, where they sleep, where they sing. It's a beautiful palace, inside and out, and it’s very well maintained.

There are a lot of scenes of practice sessions, both individual and group, and a lot of the boys are introduced and interviewed. The boys are not all from Austria or even Europe; there are a few from America, some from Japan, Congo and other places. They talk about being homesick sometimes and being so nervous on stage that their knees shake and how much they like the friends they have made at the school. They have names like Kay Olugbenga, Hibiki Sadamatsu, Tilman Tuppy. I recognized some of them from the Hydenchor’s tour last fall.

Also, we get to see them traveling to China, eastern Europe and other really fun, exotic places where they meet people and sing with them and learn their music. A good bit of the filming is done in the studio with the green screen background but a great deal of the trips are real.

How exciting would that be to be twelve and going to the desert to wear Bedouin robes and ride camels or wandering around the market place of a Chinese village sampling the food. If you ever read the blogs on the WSK web site you know just how seriously these boys take their meals. They don't seem to care for steamed chicken feet.

Many scenes take place in historical times, like the court of Emperor Joseph where they sing Haydn's Insanae et Vanae Curae. The costumes were perfect and must have been expensive to make. You should see the boys wearing powdered wigs. It's really amusing.

Naturally they paid a lot of attention to the sound quality on this film so it not only looks great, it sounds great. The final scene is in the tomb of the first Emperor of China with those life size clay statues of Chinese soldiers and the music there is Dies Irae from Mozart’s Requiem. The boys actually touch the statues and I couldn’t help thinking that if one of them toppled over it would start a domino chain reaction that would be terrible.

I liked this DVD and I’ve watched it a few times now.


  1. Wow... I've always wanted to get that DVD. Where did you buy it?

  2. Hi, I got it from their web site. Here's the link:

    They haven't updated the site to show that it's available so the shop still lists it as available for pre-order.
    The section called Film describes it as still being in progress but that's old stuff. I held off ordering it for a long time because I didn't know it was ready.
    The NTSC version is the one made for the U.S.