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The Vienna Boys' Choir celebrates half a millennium of song

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Rockettes help Vienna Boys' Choir celebrate 500 years

Web posted on:
Tuesday, November 24, 1998 4:02:13 PM EST

BRANSON, Missouri (CNN) -- An 8-foot-tall cake, 10 Rockettes, four elves, two dozen singers and hundreds of wellwishers all turned out this week for a party at Silver Dollar City, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Vienna Boys' Choir.

The Choir, the oldest choral group in the world, was created in Austria in 1498 by Emperor Maximilian I, who wanted singers for his imperial chapel. Five centuries later, the choral legacy is going strong, with two international touring groups who take their music to audiences around the world.

So many years of history have not come without sacrifice or controversy. Members traditionally have endured a strict regime of training drills and performances, with some choir members spending as much as four months at a time performing abroad; the Choir announced the resignation of artistic director Agnes Grossman earlier this week over disagreements on how hard its performers should work.

Nonetheless, with its quincentennial birthday this year, touring members of the Vienna Boys' Choir have found celebrations greeting them wherever they go, says Lawrence Ewashko, the Choir's conductor: "There have been celebrations throughout Europe and the States, and all over the world, with different concerts and celebrations."

CNN's Anna Walker was in Branson when the Rockettes et al turned out to help the Choir celebrate.

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