Austria: MuTh

The Vienna Boys’ Choir took to the stage of their new home, MuTh, last month for an intimate performance for a group of artist managers, part of the 2013 IAMA conference in the Austrian capital. It was a cheery, light concert, where the delicate sound of the boys’ collective voices was enhanced by the near perfect acoustics in the small hall, opened only last year. Introducing the singers, MuTh director Elke Hesse entertained the crowd by demonstrating that her microphone was superfluous: her quiet voice travelled easily to every seat in the house.

MuTh is based in the city’s Augarten, and positions itself as a venue that champions young performers, where music and theatre meet. The building is a unique blend of existing baroque structures (the gatehouse and wall) and modern architecture – it makes for a striking, unusual addition to the elegant Viennese district.

At the heart of MuTh is the Concert Hall with seating for 400 people. It has an optimally designed orchestra pit and acoustics to rival the city’s renowned music venues, where its resident group – the Vienna Boys’Choir – is programmed alongside rock and jazz concerts, drama, and other cultural events.

Elke Hesse explains why there was a need for such a project: ‘MuTh offers the choir the first practice and performance site of its own, opening up new and exciting opportunities and perspectives.’ With initial resistance from the public, and an overall cost of €15m, the venue is now considered to be flourishing, with guaranteed funding from the WSK Foundation.

Tickets for all events reportedly sell well, and opinion has gradually changed with strong feedback from members of the public and the media. Hesse goes on to explain how the venue specifically targets and encourages their local youth. ‘In designing a corporate style for the Vienna Boys’ Choir’s new concert hall, the starting point was the venue’s independence and its openness to other genres and other players,’ she says. ‘MuTh was founded and built for supporting children, promoting and challenging them,’ Hesse adds. ‘So we want to become the most important stage in Vienna for well-educated young talents starting an international career – MuTh is supposed to be the gate leading big talents to a hopeful future.’

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