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.
MLK Tribute Concert – January 21, 2013
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. The concert is at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall and tickets are still available here for the 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. shows. 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.”
If you can’t get out for the MLK concert, other performances are scheduled for the weekend and include:
- a free MLK Celebration Service at First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden St., on Sunday, January 20, at 11:00 a.m.
- From the Top MLK Program with the BCC, Classical 99.5 FM, Sunday January 20 at 11:30 a.m.
- WGBH MLK Program with BCC and Melinda Doolittle, featured artist at the Content of Character Concert, Classical 99.5 FM on Monday, January 21 at 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
10 Years of Harmony – A Year of Events
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.”
In addition to the MLK Tribute Concert, the BCC has more events planned for the remainder of its celebration year. Highlights include:
- A performance at the Teacher Professional Development Weekend at Boston University;
- A collaborative performance with the Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus and others at Wellesley Village Church
- Annual BCC All Choir Season Finale on May 20, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. The Strand Theatre, Dorchester.
Details can be found at: www.bostonchildrenschorus.org
The BCC Program
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.
This year, the group is planning a cultural exchange trip to Southeast Asia. From June 22 through July 6, 2013, the BCC’s Premier Choir and Young Men’s Choir will travel through Vietnam and Cambodia to mark both the BCC’s 10th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Singers will participate in workshops and homestays with local students, as well as sightseeing and visits to historical sites. BCC is also running a Shadow Tour for 20-30 participants that provides unique access and features. The Shadow Tour price includes a $500 tax-deductible donation that will directly benefit the singer’s tour expenses.