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Die Thomaner - A Year in the Life of the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig
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We follow several age groups of boys (and young men), from the newly selected choristers (aged 9) to veteran members (aged 18 to 19) who serve as mentors to the younger members, helping the younger choristers in their daily lives- with their normal, everyday struggles, the desire and requirements to be serious musicians, and their extracurricular activities, such as card playing, videos games and soccer. There is the added pressure of being members of one of the oldest musical legacies in the history of classical music.
Georg Christoph Biller, the choir's current cantor (since 1992) has some very large shoes to fill. This was none other than Johann Sebastian Bach's position with the same choir beginning in 1723 and ending with his death in 1750. (It might be worth noting that Bach's grave is located inside St. Thomas' Church. To this day, choir members show reverence by placing flowers at his grave. Luckily this is shown several times in this excellent documentary). We see Biller takes his job as cantor with utmost seriousness. He has an admiration for his young charges, though he keeps his distance, always being 'the tamer' as he puts it; you get the sense that he'd like to be their friend and in some ways he is, if at a distance.
The documentary presents what I believe is a non-biased look at the choir.Read more ›
Perhaps the best way I can tell you about it is to just repeat some notes I made to myself. I made these notes after watching it several times, English subtitles ON (I don't speak German). They include the time reference and some of the boys' names. Herr Biller is the head of the choir.
Here they are.
About 90 boys ranging from 9 to 18 have been accepted into the choir, which includes a boarding house (the Alumnat) and one of the best academic schools in Germany (St Thomas, a gymnasium school). Each was only 9 when he entered, and each will spend 10 years there, receiving a superb musical education and be qualified for any college when he graduates.
Older boys, "prefects", live with, help and supervise younger boys. An "ultimus" is the name given to a close relationship between an older and younger boy, more than best friends, perhaps closer than brothers. At 6:14, observe the younger boy, still wearing his Keil blouse, embrace his older pal, who has just graduated and will soon be gone. The tears are real.
Consider 14:30: Newcomer Cornelius tells of his homesickness, having wept twice yesterday, but later tells about his older roommate who talked to him that night about life in the Thomanerchor, easing his pain and finally letting him get to sleep. That was a precious act, and Cornelius will always remember it. Note the expressions on the face of Max, Cornelius' tiny companion, who is clearly concentrating on every word said, and reflecting his own serious engagement with the trials his friend is enduring. I think his face defines empathy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
BUT: there were so many subtitles that by the time I had read them, the scene had gone!
and often during the singing, it would fade out and a talking head would appear. Read more
What an inspirational glimpse into the life, talent and sacrifce of the St. Tomas Boys Choir. It is in German, but English subtitles help.Published 12 months ago by giaco
Very professionally produced and fascinating look into the lives of choirboysPublished 15 months ago by Scott Olsen