Passing by a school yard on any given Saturday morning, or several nights a week, one might never suspect that inside, a group of extremely talented young boys, plucked from their Saturday world of cartoons, soccer, video games, and playtime, were keeping alive a centuries old art form. But there they are, singing some of the world’s greatest music in any of several languages. These members of the North Carolina Boys Choir are doing what other fine boychoirs have done for hundreds of years.
Their interest in the boychoir may be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s the touring, or it may be the summer camp in the mountains. One thing is for sure… they are all there to share their desire to sing.
A boy auditions for the choir, perhaps at his local school, where supportive music teachers and principals arrange for auditions, or one on one with the Musical Director. The schools, however, are quick to realize what this boy can and will give back to his school chorus now, or in later years.
When the boy begins to make progress within the Training Choir, and the Musical Director feels he would be an asset to the Concert Choir, an invitation is issued to make the move to the Concert Choir.
The Summer Music Camp at Christmount Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina is his first association with the Concert Choir. Here, in the beauty of nature, five hours of intense study of music and theory each day is coupled with fun in the outdoors. This includes fun in the pool, on the soccer field, hikes, bonfires, shaving cream fights, or just with each other, making friendships that may last a lifetime. The Durham Boys Choir first began traveling to Christmount in 1975 in order to learn the boychoir parts of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. They were to complete three massive performances in Duke University Chapel the following Fall season. Those performances of Noye’s Fludde undoubtedly launched the Boys Choir’s career.
The Durham Boys Choir, founded in 1972, has sung in performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and many times as a service choir for worship services held in Duke Chapel. The staff at Duke Chapel has been most helpful and supportive of our boychoir for many years. Their support has played an important role in part of the choir’s success.
In 1983, the choir was invited to join with the college and university choirs of Meredith and North Carolina State, and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra in three performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. The day of our first performance, current Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. designated this choir to be the North Carolina Boys Choir, and the Board of Directors drew up Articles of Incorporation using this name.
For many years, this choir has presented it’s art to people across the United States and Canada, as well as in its own home state. The choir has appeared twice on UNC’s Center for Public Television in a special feature entitled Christmas at the Governor’s Mansion and once, most recently in North Carolina People with Dr. William Friday. This group presents two major concerts annually; Christmas and Spring at Duke University Chapel. The Concert Choir takes two Concert Tour Series; once in May, and again in mid to late June. First, is a weekend-long statewide tour, followed by a two-week nationwide tour, where they perform concerts nearly every evening in a different city or state.
The fall season of 1992 brought the addition of a Chamber Choir of tenors and basses. This group is comprised of young men, some in high school or college, choir alumnus, choir-fathers, and even people in the community interested in singing. The December 1992 Concert in Duke Chapel featured this new group. When combined with the Concert Choir, the sound produced was amazing and filled Duke Chapel to overflowing. In the spring of 2011, the Boys Choir started an entire new chapter in its history… the addition of a girls choir. This was based on a much-anticipated move and was met with great demand.
The choir today continues to strive to promote the joy of learning and performing great music, and it is the hope that each member will continue along the path of excellence and will meet with much success in the achievement of those goals which they sets for themselves.
The choristers and their parents continue to support a busy schedule and are extremely dedicated and committed. In our choir, music is the first of many lessons to be learned. Almost every member’s success is attainable before age twelve. A host family from Pennsylvania recently wrote a letter to us saying, “These choristers have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments! They have accomplished what few adult choirs have accomplished. Everything I have seen of the choir, and the thoroughly professional way in which it is run, deserves the support of the people of North Carolina!”
Perhaps if the talent and dedication of these children were matched by such support from the people of North Carolina, as well as our nation, a new chapter in the choir’s history could be written. How can you help?