Jewish California Boy Makes Vienna Boys Choir

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.


Eleven-year-old Elijah Priwer from California is in Austria, singing with the Vienna Boys Choir this year. (photo credit: Lukas Beck)

A talented 11-year-old Jewish boy from Redwood City, California decided to follow his musical dreams all the way to Austria. Elijah Priwer, was recently accepted to the Vienna Boys Choir, the most prestigious boys choir in the world and is now living 6,000 miles away from his family.

It’s not easy for Elijah (also known as Eli) to be away from home, and his parents and four siblings miss him dearly. But none of them wanted to pass up this amazing opportunity for Eli to develop his gift.

“At the end of the day, we are his parents, but we don’t own him. We have to let him grow in to the person he is going to be,” said Shana Priwer, one of his parents.

Priwer, who tests software, and Eli’s other parent, Cynthia Phillips, a planetary geologist, have raised all five of their children to be musical. Both women were musically trained themselves (Priwer attended Juilliard), and they started their sons and daughters on piano at age four. The children all play two instruments each, but Eli is the only one who also sings.

Eli joined Ragazzi, a Bay Area boys chorus, when he was in first grade. Two years ago, he auditioned for the Vienna Boys Choir (which dates to 1498) and received provisional acceptance.

“We just weren’t ready to let him go all the way to Austria by himself when he was just nine,” said Priwer. “We sort of put it aside for a couple of years, and then last July he attended the choir’s summer program at Lake Wörthersee in southern Austria.”

While Eli was at the camp, his parents got a call from the management who said they wanted him to stay year-round and attend the choir’s boarding school at the Augartenpalais, a Baroque palace and former imperial hunting lodge in Vienna where the 100 choir members live, study and sing.

Click here to read more and watch a video.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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