The Innsbruck-based Wilten Boys’ Choir is one of the oldest and most highly regarded boys’ choirs in Europe. Its beginnings date back to the 13th century. Today the choir has some 180 members, who are trained in six groups (including junior choirs, concert choirs, and young male voices), partly in collaboration with the Tyrolean State Conservatory. The choir boys, who are students at various schools in and around Innsbruck, attend choir practice and voice training at Wilten Abbey up to three times a week, depending on their age; the youngest members are between four and five years old. Many former members of the choir went on to become successful singers, musicians and music educators.
The repertoire is frequently modified and extended, as, like with every children’s choir, the turnover of members is quite high, and the boys’ registers may quickly change from soprano or alto to tenor or bass. A large part of the repertoire is comprised of old religious music, from Renaissance and Baroque to Classical and Romantic music. 20th century compositions hold a prominent place, as do the works of William Byrd, Heinrich Schutz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Anton Bruckner and Arvo Part. The choir’s proficiency also extends to music from the Classical repertoire, as is demonstrated by a number of recordings of masses and oratorios by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn. Due to ist Tyrolean background, the choir is also committed to upholding the tradition of authentic folk songs. Last but not least, the operatic and symphonic choir genres also play an important part in the choir’s repertoire; the Wilten Boys’ Choir has repeatedly performed at the Tyrolean and Vorarlberg State Theaters, at various opera houses in Italy, as well as at the Salzburg Festival, the Bregenz Festival and the Tyrolean Festival.
On its concert tours, the choir performs mainly in the German-speaking countries; but in the past the young singers have also toured many other countries all over the world, including China, Japan, Israel, Romania, Denmark, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
More than 25 releases document the choir’s varied repertoire and its musical development. One of the most recent releases, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, performed by the Wilten Boys’ Choir and its soloists, the Academia Jacobus Stainer, Daniel Schmutzhard and Paul Schweinester under the direction of Johannes Stecher (Gramola 2012), was nominated for the German Record Critics’Award.
The organist, singer, conductor, composer, singing teacher and cultural educator Johannes Stecher has been the choirmaster of the Wilten Boys’ Choir since 1991, and he has systematically shaped the ensemble into the choir it is today.