All Saints Catholic School student to sing with Vienna Boys’ Choir
On the surface, Matthew Beach is just like any other 11 year-old boy at All Saints Catholic School in Endicott. He loves hockey, hanging out with his friends and playing on his iPad. His favorite subjects are math and science and he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. “I want to be the kind of doctor that does hospital stuff,” explained Matthew. “I got the idea from one of my friends, Donny Dutcher. He said he wanted to be a doctor and I said, ‘I do too and we can work together.’”
But since medical school’s a long way off, Matthew has found another pursuit to take up his time: singing.
“I’ve been singing probably since I was two years old but mostly back then it was hum-singing,” explained Matthew. As he grew, Matthew, a soprano, continued to sing in the choir at the Church of the Holy Family, and his family began to realize he had a pretty impressive voice. His mother arranged for him to study with a professional music teacher, Jan D’Angelo. “He was teaching older kids at the time but once I sang for him he told my mother, ‘We need to get this boy going!’ And now he tells people I’m like a son to him,” said Matthew with a smile.
Life continued to go on for Matthew with hockey, singing lessons and hanging out with his friends until his mother happened to spot a billboard announcing auditions for the world renowned Vienna Boys’ Choir. “I was so excited. I asked her to email them right away and we got back information that [the choir] was conducting interviews and auditions while they were touring in Kingston, Ontario during Spring Break. So I went to Ontario [in February] for an interview and I got to see one of the boys backstage. He wished me good luck. I wasn’t nervous until I had to sing in front of the counselor for one of the [touring] groups and then I heard my voice start to shake. I sang two songs but I was so nervous. I knew this was a great opportunity and I was singing in front of a very, very talented person,” explained Matthew.
When Matthew finished his audition he assumed the counselor would offer his thanks and then send him on his way. Instead, the counselor turned to Matthew and his parents saying, “If it were up to me I’d take him to Vienna right now. We are going to want to have him in Vienna as fast as possible — how quick can you get him there?”
The Beach family was in shock. “I mean my mother, my father and my aunt’s jaws dropped to the floor they were so shocked,” laughed Matthew. When Matthew returned home from Ontario he received a letter from the choir congratulating him on completing the first step of the audition process. “That’s when I got really, really excited,” stated Matthew. “I felt really proud of myself.”
Matthew and his parents will be leaving for Vienna on May 1 to join up with the choir. His parents will stay with him for a week and then return to the United States while Matthew attends the Vienna Boys’ Choir Summer Camp in the Swiss Alps. Despite never having been away from his family before, Matthew isn’t worried. “I think I will probably get a little homesick,” he admitted. “And I know it’s hard for my family to know their youngest son is going to be in another country, but I think it’s good for me to get out of the house.”
To help combat any homesickness, Matthew plans to bring along a box of pictures of family and friends. “I can also check in with my family and friends through Skype or online if I miss them,” explained Matthew.
Although he is confident that he will become a part of the choir, there is one contingency: his career with the choir hangs on whether or not Matthew can learn to speak German and communicate effectively with the boys by the end of summer camp. “Everything is in German there,” explained Matthew. “The music is in German, the books are in German and German is the only language that everyone speaks. If I can’t communicate in German, I’m going to have big problems,” explained Matthew.
To help him accomplish the goal of learning German quickly, Matthew has been studying with two German tutors and uses German computer programs to help reinforce what he has learned. “If I don’t learn the language I could distract the other boys by speaking English. But I’ve been working hard for a long time — three weeks, so I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a problem,” stated Matthew.
All Saints Catholic School Principal Angela Tierno has been impressed with Matthew’s diligence in learning the new language. “He is very determined to make the most of this opportunity and studies German every chance he gets,” said Tierno. “I was amazed to even find out he auditioned and would be leaving the school because he’s not the kind of kid to brag about his gift. He’s very mature and very humble and I know he will do well. We will all miss him.”
As Matthew grasps more bits and pieces of the German language every day he believes it will be easier for him to learn the language when he is actually speaking to the boys at camp on a daily basis. “And if I have any problem I can just bring out my handy phrase book,” laughed Matthew.
If all goes well for Matthew he could be part of the Vienna Boys’ Choir when they tour China this September. The choir has 100 boys enrolled and each boy is assigned to one of four touring groups of 25 singers. Singers selected generally have a two to three-year career with the choir, leaving when their voice changes. But even that doesn’t matter to Matthew. “I can’t believe that I could actually become part of the choir,” stated Matthew. “I heard them in concert about three years ago and I turned to my mother and said, ‘Those boys are really good.’ I never told her it was a secret wish of mine that someday I could become part of that choir, and now, my wish is coming true.”