On April 24th, the Fine Arts Series hosted a wonderful group of young vocalists called the American Boychoir led by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, who is the Artistic Director of the group, and accompanied by Anna C. de Groot. The choir consists of boys ranging from fourth through eighth grade of any ethnic, religious and cultural diversity either from the United States or around the country. These students attend the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey to pursue their love for music and singing. The school, however, also has a academic curriculum alongside their music curriculum, so the students are still learning other important skills in addition to singing and performing. The group has over 100 solo concerts around the United States, but in their 2015-2016 season, they have added four national tours as well.
The program performed at the concert was an exceptional one! It was called, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” In the program it notes that they based their program off the American hymn of the same title. They stated that the boychoir has faced institutional and financial challenges throughout their 78-year history, and had to file for bankruptcy this last year. The question then arose, “How can we keep from singing? We are a boychoir school. We educate boys and build their character, teaching them to face life’s challenges, all while inspiring the world with their voices. We had to keep teaching, they had to keep learning, therefore they couldn’t keep from singing.” Thankfully, through many donations and patrons, they were able to start their season off with a bang with a new campus and many plans for the future. This concert was inspired by these chain of events and dedicated to those who supported this group throughout the years and during their struggle this past year.
The music performed was a mixture of hymns and spirituals from around the world. The talents these boys possess were ones to not be taken lightly. Each boy has worked hard training and perfecting his voice and their performance was absolutely astounding. I have never heard so many young voices blend and work together, and while also producing gorgeous harmony. Furthermore, their skill in learning multiple different languages with all of this complex music is a great accomplishment as well. Some memorable selections they performed were “How can I Keep From Singing” by James Q. Mulholland, “You Are the New Day”, by John David, “Come Ye Sons of Art” by Henry Purcell, and “Amavolovo”, a traditional Zulu piece, arranged by Rudolf de Beer.
The concert overall was a beautiful mix of cultural hymns and spirituals that filled the room with surprise and excitement. If you ever have a chance to see this great group in person, I would take the opportunity, or check them out on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, or their website: www.americanboychoir.org. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Amber Rak, from Shorewood, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in Music Education with a minor in Psychology. Amber is a member of the IC Wind Ensemble and Women’s Chorale. She is a new writer for The Rambler, and the social media head/player for the IC Quidditch Club.