Founder's Blog for Music Parents
What began as a pilot program 10 years ago with 20 singers is now one of the most highly respected children’s choruses in the nation, transcending social barriers and fostering excellence through a shared love of music. Today, celebrating its 10th anniversary year, the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC) has 500 singers in 12 different choruses at four skill levels in five locations throughout Boston including: Dorchester, Brighton and the South End. Participants are between 7 and 18 years old and represent 80 different communities in Boston and its suburbs, breaking down barriers with every rehearsal and performance.
Boston founder, Hubie Jones created the children’s chorus 10 years ago after hearing a similar group perform in Chicago. What struck him then rings true today and is the perfect backdrop for a celebration of Martin Luther King’s legacy: children of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds performing together.
On Monday January 21, 2013, the BCC will continue ongoing 10th anniversary celebrations with its signature Martin Luther King Tribute Concert entitled: Content of Character. Special guests include Cindy Blackman Santana, an American jazz and rock drummer, and singer Melinda Doolittle.
“Dedicated to the memory of Rev. King, this year’s tribute reprises songs from the nine previous MLK concerts along with new songs celebrating our 10th anniversary,” explained BCC Artistic Director, Anthony Trecek-King.
In fact, 2013 also marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s memorable speech at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963 which lends its words for the concert’s title: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The official start to this 10th year celebration began with the announcement of BCC Day on Sunday, September 16 by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The group marked the day by holding the largest open-air rehearsal of its kind in the city when 12 choirs and the community came together to learn and sing the BCC Anthem “We Sing,” written by Jim Papoulis.
A few months later, the BCC performed Old American Songs, a concert on November 4 at Jordan Hall featuring special guest, New England Patriots’ Safety Patrick Chung. Following the concert, the BCC sponsored a panel discussion about the importance of combating social exclusion, prejudice and discrimination – a topic in line with BCC’s work to create community and relationships among people that normally wouldn’t meet.
On December 8, more than 450 young singers performed at the BCC annual Holiday Concert at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End for a crowd of 1,600.
“Our goal in the next 10 years,” said David C. Howse, executive director of BCC, “is to expand our audience, make performances more affordable and leverage our opportunities to reach people through song.”
Details can be found at: www.bostonchildrenschorus.org
Auditions are held in May of each year and they look for young performers of all ages (applications for auditions are accepted on an ongoing basis). “Participants don’t need previous singing experience to audition,” said Howse, “because the BCC music curriculum rapidly brings the students up to the same level of achievement.”
Singers in the 15-18 age range meet twice a week and participate in up to 40 performances. This group usually has some skill and training before joining, but there is a choir for teens without training. Younger groups practice once a week. The BCC is sensitive to accepting a diverse composition of singers and they connect with their current families, schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Chinatown Neighbors for Youth and other organizations to help expand their reach.
Khamari Barnes, a student in the Young Men’s Ensemble explains: “BCC has been one of the best tools I’ve ever encountered in my life. Tools as in life tools. I can honestly say that BCC and its staff are the reason that I am the person I am today.”
Payment for lessons and participation in the BCC are figured on a sliding scale relevant to income. According to the BCC website, tuition accounts for less than 5% of their annual budget. When the group travels or tours, the fee structure mimics the same sliding scale.