A centuries-old choir brings Christmas earlyOne month to the day ahead of Christmas, the sounds of carols and motets will echo in the National Theater of Korea, as sung by a European boys’ choir with a history that dates back almost 800 years.
The Dresdner Kreuzchor, from Dresden, Germany, will perform next Thursday at the theater on Mount Namsan. The program will include traditional Christmas carols as well as motets by Mendelssohn and Brahms. Motets are polyphonic compositions based on sacred texts, usually sung without instrumental accompaniment.
Churches in Dresden have a long tradition of re-enacting the story of the birth of Christ during Christmas Day services; the choir will perform in costume to simulate the atmosphere of one of those services.
Dresdner Kreuzchor has a membership of 150 boys, ranging in age from 9 to 19. New members are admitted only when they are between the ages of six and nine. For the Seoul concert, a group of 40 choir members will travel to Korea.
The choir has produced such renowned German opera singers as tenor Peter Schreier, baritone Theo Adam and baritone Olaf Bar. Its history dates to the 13th century.
Its name, which means Dresden Holy Cross Choir, comes from its origins in 1234, when the wife of King Henry the Illustrious brought to Dresden a piece of wood said to have been from the cross on which Christ was crucified, which she had been given as a gift.
By 1300, the church had become home to a boys’ boarding school for instruction in Latin and music, and its tradition of boys’ choral music was underway.
The church was devastated in the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden toward the end of World War II; some 11 members of the choir were killed. The choir did not return to its restored home for 10 years.
Today, choir members, known as Crucians, are educated at the Lutheran Kruzgymnasium (School of the Holy Cross) along with 750 other students. They rehearse for three hours daily in addition to their other classwork.
The choir has released a number of recordings on the German classical music label Deutsche Grammophon.
The first half of the program at the National Theater will consist of motets, including famous Christmas tunes like “Rejoice, O People,” composed by Felix Mendelssohn.
The second part of the concert will feature 10 Polish, Bohemian and French Christmas carols, including “Silent Night, Holy Night” and one piece composed by Georg Friedrich Handel.
The concert will be held at Haeorum theater in the National Theater of Korea at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday. Ticket prices range from 20,000 ($18) to 60,000 won.
For ticket information, call (02) 2280-4115~6.
by Limb Jae-un