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The Vienna Boys Choir's March performance at Wildwood Park for the Arts in Little Rock was called off due to snow. Sunday, the day of the rescheduled concert, brought inclement weather again, but only in the form of rain, which did nothing to dampen the plans of the numerous audience members who turned out to hear the renowned choir.

The 25-member choir, conducted by Bomi Kim, took the audience "Around the World in 80 Minutes," with songs indeed culled from throughout the globe. Kim provided piano accompaniment; for some numbers, choir members -- and Kim -- played guitar, violin, African djembe drum and tambourine.

The program offered one to six songs from each country on the program. Each segment was introduced by a choir member that, with a flourish and a bit of drama, greeted the audience in that country's language (in the case of the Viennese numbers, the greeting came from all the boys). The boys showed their sense of humor, with touches that took the stiffness and formality out of the performance.

Starting with England, the choir opened with Henry Purcell's dignified "Come Ye Sons of Art," the opening chorus from the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary II, then went into Thomas Weelkes' "The Nightingale" -- with the choristers deftly handling the bird sounds -- and followed up with Benjamin Britten's dreamy "Fishing Song."

The choir went on to offer numbers from France, Italy, Arabia, Austria, India, China, Japan, the United States and Ireland before returning to England and Austria. The most memorable moments came with the boys' moving performance of "Ave verum corpus" by Francis Poulenc (one of the best vehicles for their voices); their performance of the mystique-rich "Lamma Bada Yatathanna," and Gerald Wirth's arrangements of the bold "So ran bushi," "Shenandoah" and "Kainawad Naad (Song of the Spirit Dance)."

The Vienna choirboys demonstrated not only their vocal prowess, but the versatility that has made them legend. They needed it to deliver "Danny Boy," then pull off the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," then segue smoothly into Johann Strauss Jr.'s "An der schonen blauen Donau (Blue Danube)." And they threw in a few numbers from Mary Poppins while they were at it.

The concert was extended by way of two encore numbers, the last of which was a rousing rendition of the 1985 USA For Africa hit "We Are the World."

Metro on 10/27/2015

Print Headline: Boys choir takes crowd on journey across globe

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