Mozartchor's choirmaster was born in Vienna. He learnt guitar and piano as a child. After leaving school, he became a sound engineer. While working on various recording projects (involving every kind of music known to man), he studied music, music pedagogy, history, and conducting with Johannes Prinz (a former choir boy) and Alois Glassner. Schwarz knows the choir business from both sides of the baton: he sang himself in Vienna's prestigious Kammerchor, and conducted all kinds of choirs, from children to senior citizens from all walks of life. In recent years, he has worked as a conductor of the Gumpoldskirchner Spatzen, as well as a voice trainer and choirmaster of the Vienna Boys' Choir's afternoon programme, the "Chorschule".
In July 2008, he took over as choirmaster of Mozartchor; he has since discovered that "24 boys can sound like a gaggle of geese, like a group of Tajik street urchins, like hardened boisterous football fans (usually when playing against one of the other choirs), or indeed like a flock of seraphs, depending on the time of day and the task at hand". Schwarz, who arranges his own music for "his" boys, uses this to great advantage. "I like any kind of music," he says, "as long as it's good, and this goes for the boys as well." Their repertoire for Japan includes everything from Gregorian chant to pop music, Monteverdi, Dowland, Lotti, and Joseph Haydn are on the playbill, as are Austrian folk songs and some world music. "The kids really like the pieces from Curt Faudon's movie, Jog.wa and Haq Ali. They get to play the drums and really engage the audience. We have played that to groups of teenagers from Austria, and they are usually very critical. But the boys had them clapping along, so that was a great success." As a Viennese native, Schwarz has included some genuine Wiener Lieder in this year's tour programme. "These songs are melancholy and maudlin, they fit the Viennese frame of mind."
He feels that everyone in the choir brings a different talent to bear, and drawing out everyone's special talents is his declared goal. "There is a little solo there for everyone, somewhere along the road. We are working on that," he says and grins. If you ask him what his boys like to sing, he will tell you, "Mozart - we are the Mozartchor." Among his own favourite pieces sung earlier in the season are Mozart's Requiem, the Coronation Mass, and the Credo Mass.
After two short trips to Romania and Spain, Florian Schwarz is looking forward to two months in Japan. "Travelling with the boys is a wonderful adventure; you get to know your choristers really well, and that helps in the concerts. And I hear that Japan is a very special destination."