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November 3, 2004

Life in Vienna is filled with song

Cincinnati Enquirer:

Imagine living in a palace built in 1692, overlooking lush grounds on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. Benjamin Kleykamp got up early Saturday morning to give a tour of his school in the Augartenpalais - from the elegant, gilded salons dripping with crystal chandeliers to his dorm room in a modern wing, with neat bunk beds overlooking formal grounds.

Benjamin is modest, multi-talented and a bit shy. He's sung before presidents and emperors, but he takes it all in stride. "Once you're going onstage with your white uniform, you have a feeling that just tickles," says Benjamin, a high soprano, as his parents, Alexandra and Steve Kleykamp, look proudly on. "I like everything about it." Benjamin, 12, and fellow Cincinnati-area native Andrew Markowich, 14, are successors to Donald Smith and Ryan Slone, the first from this area (and just the second and third Americans ever) to join the world's finest and oldest boys choir, the Vienna Boys Choir (Wiener Sangerknaben). All are former members of Cincinnati Boychoir.

As we ascend a stairway, the sound of high-pitched, heavenly voices floats down. The door opens, and the boys stand up to welcome their colleague. The Vienna Boys Choir is all about tradition, formality and excellence. On this Saturday morning, Benjamin's group, the Schubert Choir, is hard at work with choir leader Robert Rieder, preparing to sing Sunday Mass in the Hofburg Chapel. The choir has sung Mass there for more than 500 years.

A distinguished-looking maestro, Helmut Froschauer, enters to conduct the rehearsal for the Mass, which will be accompanied by members of the Vienna Philharmonic. The boys' pure tone is extraordinary and clear. Besides Schubert, they run through Adeste fidelis, already tuning up for a Christmas concert in Vienna's Konzerthaus, "Christmas in Vienna." There's a chance they'll also be singing in December with superstar tenor Jose Carreras in London, still being negotiated. More

Posted by acapnews at November 3, 2004 12:24 AM