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Typically, the Raleigh Boychoir's fall concert is the first major performance of every season. However, as artistic director Jeremy Tucker explained, the Boychoir is already in the middle of their fullest season yet. This particular concert was the organization's second major event and their sixth total appearance at venues around Raleigh. Most recently, Boychoir members have performed at the NC American Choral Directors' Association conference and for the Raleigh City Council. All this in little more than a month and a half!
This concert was held at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, a venue special to RBC as a host throughout the organization's 50-year history. The four ensembles of the Boychoir were also joined by the Lacy Pride Chorus of Lacy Elementary, directed by Terry Anne Denny.
For this concert, the youngest singers were up first, featuring Katie O'Neil leading her first RBC performance as conductor of the Training Choir. Their rendition of the song "Simple Gifts" spoke well of the beginning choral education the singers are receiving – their ending consonants and cutoffs were quite flawless for such young performers. Part of the Boychoir's mission stresses professionalism in performance, and it’s clear that this starts right at the beginning of the program.
The cheerful Resident Choir, conducted by Danny Yancey, sang the expressive and well-phrased "Al Shlosha D'varim," and their careful practice of vowel shaping and blending with the Hebrew text was obvious. The Lacy Pride Chorus, a larger mixed ensemble, featured students playing recorders in the song "Seasons Change" and offered a bold new take on Bach with "Sing of Joy," an arrangement by T. Jennings which uses Bach's popular "Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring" as accompaniment.
The RBC's Performing Choir is consistently spot-on with their performances, but especially when singing pure, concentrated harmonies, often in Latin. Mozart's famous "Ave Verum Corpus" is one such piece, requiring intense focus and solidly matched diction across the choir. "Will There Really be a Morning" showed more dynamic sensitivity; and the Brazilian "Ciranda da Lua," featuring members of the Young Men's Ensemble on percussion, was energetic and perhaps slightly less controlled (in a good way). This oldest ensemble wowed with three-part harmony in "Hallelujah" (Emerson's arrangement of the Cohen classic), significant due to a smaller number of seven singers. The expressive historical ballad "Tell My Father" featured violinist Kevin Yen, with a countermelody that wove in and out of the vocal line.
The RBC's Tour Choir (the combination of Performing Choir and Young Men's Ensemble) concluded the concert with a haunting and resonant spiritual, "Keep Your Lamps," and of course the classic "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." The latter historically closed the Raleigh Boychoir's concerts in the past decades, and the current singers, along with alumni, are keeping this tradition alive.
The rest of the RBC's 50th anniversary season is no less exciting and busy. Upcoming venues and collaborations include Duke Chapel, NC Symphony, Cary Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Edenton Street UMC – all before the end of 2017. It goes without saying how special it is for the Boychoir members to have performed with such renowned organizations, some young men even before reaching middle school. The RBC's 50th season has only just begun, and it's already looking bright.
To read more about the Raleigh Boychoir staff, visit their website.