Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tiny Ho Kuan-wei stands tall and shines in the Vienna Boys' Choir in eyes of Taiwan public

By Nancy T. Lu

Taiwan has been full of choir singers for many years. But it has taken over 500 years for the voice of a Taiwanese child to be heard in the touring Vienna Boys' Choir. This has come about after years of traditional voice training for this particular boy until he has been deemed fit to be a soloist.

When the singers of the Vienna Boys' Choir ranging from 10 to 12 in age file into the stage limelight at the National Concert Hall in Taipei on October 28, the audience consisting primarily of local residents will be watching out for the eyeglass-wearing Ho Kuan-wei.

Ho, only 10, is the first Taiwanese boy to join the world-famous touring choir from the music capital of Vienna. As the tiniest and perhaps the cutest kid in the visiting Wiener Saengerknaben, he undoubtedly stands out also because the choir is on Taiwan soil.

The little boy moved to Vienna with his parents when he was only four months old. Edward Ho, his father, has been posted as manager of EVA Airways in Vienna since then. At the age of six, the boy with a love for singing visited the school for training very young singers and managed to get admitted as student.

Ho finally got recruited into one of the four touring choirs this year, joining two Japanese and a Filipino in lending their Asian faces to an increasingly international performing group from Austria.

Edward Ho’s concern over little Ho’s ability to cope with a hectic touring schedule has driven him to intermittently take time off from work and to literally track down the Vienna Boys Choir, starting in Mexico from August 25 to September 16, then moving to China starting on October 6 and then on to Macau and finally Taiwan. Singapore will be covered in the final leg of the Asian tour to conclude on November 10. But in November and December, the boys will be singing in places around Germany.

Ho Kuan-wei's paternal and maternal grandparents will be in the audience at the Taipei concert on Wednesday, little Ho candidly revealed. They will all be there to listen to his singing of classic fare, folk songs, and even numbers attributed to Abba and Queen.

Of his life with the Vienna Boys Choir, little Ho said that he has had to deal with the hard work and discipline. In fact, he complained to his Dad that singing practices and rehearsals could last from six to eight hours daily. While on the road for a long stretch, he has been homesick sometimes, missing his parents and older sister. Fortunately the face of his loving and proud father has been poppinng up from time to time.

Conductor Andy Icochea Icochea observed that Ho has been one of the better-behaved boys in the choir. Ho has helped in getting the other young singers to pronounce properly the Chinese lyrics of a song about the jasmine in Puccini’s “Turandot” and included in the program.

The Vienna Boys' Choir will also let their angelic voices ring out at the Life Aesthetics Hall in Tainan on October 31, the Chih Te Hall in Kaohsiung on November 1, the National Concert Hall in Taipei on November 3, and the Yuanlin Performance Hall in Changhua on November 4.