Magnolia to be infused with a little Austria next year

Early next year, before the birds of spring fill their air with their song, Magnolians may look up to hear something sweet and ancient.

For the first time ever, the neighborhood will play host to the Vienna Boys Choir, the oldest, and most celebrated choir in the world. The choir will appear Feb. 21 at Our Lady of Fatima, where the group of 22 singers and a visiting director will perform from its massive catalog several selections, most likely sacred songs from Bach, Handel, Mozart and Rachmaninov.

The performance will be one night only and tickets are already on sale. Tickets start at $100 but there are Gold Package seats that will put ticket holders in the first six rows and entitle them to a private reception with the choir afterward. The day of the performance, 100 more tickets will go on sale for seating around the pews.

The event is likely the most significant musical event at Fatima since musical director Matthew Fouks established a regular concert series there a little more than a year ago. When he first came on, he consulted Fr. James Johnson of his desire to bring more sacred music to the church to which Johnson gave his full blessing.

"He is a big supporter of sacred music, such as liturgical masses," Loucks said of Johnson. Loucks has since built up two new choirs and an orchestra made up in part of parishioners and Magnolia-based musicians. Friday, Nov. 20, for example, Loucks will conduct a unique, first version of Handel's Messiah, the version that was originally performed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742. To add authenticity, the orchestra will be playing on 18th Century replica instruments.

One of the touring managers for the Vienna Boys Choir (there are a handful of choirs that sing under the banner of Vienna Boys Choir) had worked with Loucks when the musical director was working at St. Mary Catholic Church in Denver.

Loucks had been there for 15 years and had hired the choir three times. So when the opportunity arose for the choir to play Fatima, Loucks seized the moment.

"I like ancient music, and this is the oldest organized choir on the planet," he said. "It's just incredible and they have a repertoire that spans that entire time. It's very angelic. And it's a Catholic organization, too, so it's like all the musical planets are aligning."

The church had recently removed its carpeted floors from the sanctuary and installed terrazzo flooring, which, Loucks said, has improved the acoustics.

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