China-Austria music cooperation to boost Chinese choirs
"I am very glad to see more and more Chinese enjoy choral music and hope China-Austria music cooperation will help China in developing choirs," said Gerald Wirth, President of the Vienna Boys Choir (VBC).
Wirth, also the Artistic Director of the VBC, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua after the inauguration ceremony of the "Friends of the VBC" club at the Austrian Embassy in China on Monday night.
Known as the "Austrian national treasure" and the "singing angels," the VBC has a nearly 600-year-old history and is one of the most prestigious and oldest choral groups in the world.
Wirth said that Friends of the VBC, a non-profit organization, aims to strengthen choral exchanges between the VBC and Chinese choral professionals, children and youth.
The club will support the tours and activities of the Vienna Boys Choir in China and develop education and training for Chinese choirs.
"In the next year, the club plans to select three excellent Chinese chorus conductors to visit Austria for further study," said Wirth.
Last year, students from the Beijing No. 2 Experimental Primary School went to Vienna for the World Peace Choral Festival.
Wirth described the Chinese children as "smart," "full of passion for choir" and "devoted to singing."
After their performance, the children were invited to stay and study in Wirth's Alpine valley hometown for several days.
"I conducted a master class with the students, and they experienced typical Austrian music, scenery and lifestyle, which deepened our friendship," Wirth said.
Seeing more Chinese children take part in choir, Wirth said that the most important lesson children should learn from choir is not only achievement in choir competitions, but also fostering an understanding and appreciation for music.
Wirth recalled that he loved music as a child and was determined to become "somebody" in the music field.
"I learned a lot during my happy times in choir, and it made my dreams come true," he added.
Wirth said that the VBC has always regarded conductors and music teachers as the foundation of the choir and called on conductors to guide children to enjoy music so that they can exert their talents.
"Good conductors and teachers can lead children to achieve the most from choir in the shortest period of time, and allow the choir to develop in a sound way," Wirth said.
Wirth also stressed that conductors should understand that choruses require well-rounded skill development, including gestures, pronunciation, tone, intonation and understanding of music.
China, like other countries, has many outstanding choral teachers, but there are also teachers with vast room to improve who can make rapid progress with professional training and government encouragement, he said.
During the interview, Wirth expressed great interest in foreign musical elements, including Chinese folk music.
He said that he had adapted several Chinese folk songs into choral arrangements and his choir has several Chinese songs in its repertoire.
Just two months ago, the VBC held a concert to perform Chinese musical works.
"In the future, I will continue to keep an eye on Chinese music and plan to compose works integrating Chinese calligraphy and poems," Wirth said. Enditem