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Boys Choir Welcomes First Woman Director

The imperious male bastion of Vienna’s music world has caved a little. Agnes Grossman, the first woman to direct the Vienna Boys Choir, was welcomed by her small charges with smiles and nonchalant shrugs Tuesday as they met in the gilt and chandeliered salon of the Augarten Palace.

“Maybe she’ll be a little smoother, a little nicer than the men,” said 11-year-old Koriun Khadjespri, one of the 100 sopranos who attends academic class, studies music and rehearses choral repertoire at the palace that serves as a boarding school for the boys.

The appointment of Grossman, 52, an Austrian conductor who lives in Canada and whose lineage influenced the decision a little - her father led the choir after World War II - sent tremors through Vienna. The Vienna Philharmonic, considered the world’s premiere orchestra is also the last in the world to admit women players.

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