Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale
Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale is a boys' choir and men's chorale based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, currently under the direction of Jeffery R. Smith. They are known as "America's Ambassadors of Song" and are considered to be one of the best boys choirs in the world. Their notable concert venues have included Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, the Kimmel Center, Notre Dame de Paris, King's College Cathedral, and the Academy of Music (Philadelphia).
Robert G. Hamilton founded what is today Philadelphia Boys Choir in 1968, after 6 years at Frankford High School. There, he took this High School Choir to the Music Educator's National Convention in Atlantic City in March of 1963, and by the summer of 1964 had organized a 30-day tour with 90 singers to Scandinavia as the "Ambassadors of Song." In 1965 the choir sang at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, along with a men's chorus organized by Hamilton. By 1968 he was conducting the Philadelphia Boy's choir, as part of the Board of Education, but moved to an independent group later that year.
Two years later, he added a Men's Chorale to expand available repertoire. He remained the artistic director for the choir's next 37 years. In 1968 they launched the concert tour to Mexico, the first of many. The Choir has performed premieres of works under the batons of Maestros Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Klaus Tennstedt and Wolfgang Sawallisch in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Riccardo Muti hailed the boys as "a treasure" at the performance of the concert version of Puccini's Tosca with internationally acclaimed soloists Carol Vaness, Giuseppe Giacomini, Giorgio Zancanaro and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. Guest conductors Dennis Russell Davies and Charles Dutoit have conducted the Choir for performances of Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream and the concert version of Puccini's La Bohème with the Philadelphia Orchestra. During the 1990s, the Choir added Benjamin Britten's War Requiem to its repertoire under the baton of Wolfgang Sawallisch, as well as the concert version of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, conducted by Zdenek Macal in 1996 with the Choral Arts Society. Each year, the Pennsylvania Ballet hosts the Choir as part of their seasonal favorite, The Nutcracker. Internationally, the Choir singers have performed for the Royal Families of Sweden, Denmark, England, Thailand and in over 30 countries around the world.
In 2008, the choir celebrated its anniversary with a concert at the Irvine Auditorium and a tour to Spain, a first for the choir. In 2009, the choir went to South America after a successful performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Over the years, the choir has become a household name in the Philadelphia area. In 1992 they sang at the Sydney Opera House to a sold out audience. They have also sung at the White House for four presidents. Recently, the choir sang for then-candidate Barack Obama in Germantown, and Laura Bush at the Cityline Hotel in Philadelphia.
Major Annual Concerts
Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale performs two major annual concerts; the Winter concert, and the Spring concert. The winter concert consists of mostly Christmas music. Both pop songs, and traditional carols are performed. The concert is therefore often performed in churches, theaters, and the occasional concert hall. The Winter concert is performed with a select orchestra and is a family favorite for the entire Delaware Valley.
The spring concert is often themed, so stage settings, choir fundraisers, and the music follows a central motif. The musical styles have ranged from full classical choral/orchestral works (e.g. Orff's Carmina Burana ), to pop, to modern choral compositions. The spring concert offers the most diversity of repertoire, and is often considered the more musically sophisticated of the two.
Concert venues have included the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Philadelphia's Academy of Music, Irvine Auditorium, and numerous venues with community and faith-based organizations in the Philadelphia Metro region. Over the years, the choir has been increasing its presence in New York with performances on Good Morning America and multiple concerts at Carnegie Hall.
Other Important Performances
The choir annually sings the national anthem at the Philadelphia Phillies Home Opener, and has done the same for the 1980 World Series, 1993 World Series and the 2008 NLCS, the 2009 NLCS, and the 2010 NLCS. The Philadelphia Boys Choir sings in the Pennsylvania Ballet's "The Nutcracker" every winter at the Academy of Music. Starting in 2009, they perform with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and also Lauren Kennedy at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. They sing in Philadelphia's Macy's during Christmas with the historical light show. The Philadelphia Orchestra often recruits the boys choir for necessary pieces.
The Choir currently offers 1 album in CD Format, Celebrate the Sounds of the Season.
Past albums include:
Two Holiday CDs:
- Shimmering, Glimmering,
- and Holiday Enchantment,
along with one album of audience favorites,
- By Request,
one album of show-tunes.
- One Singular Sensation,
and one Complete Recording of a commissioned work
- Concert Mass.
Choir alumni include Joe Bonsall (Oak Ridge Boys), Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men), Stephen Tirpak, Ukee Washington, Lawrence Zazzo, Pat Grossi (Active Child), Justin Hopkins (opera singer), James A. Pierce, III (The Lion King on Broadway), Joshua Loper (The Grand and Delaware Military Academy) and Christopher Thompson (Robertson Aye, Mary Poppins, West-Mont Christian Academy. Boys in the choir have been asked to perform on Broadway on numerous occasions, and several alumni have secured roles.
|Year and Name||Locations Visited|
|1968 MEXICAN TOUR||Taxco, Mexico City, Guadalupe|
|1970 EUROPEAN TOUR||Poland, USSR, Sweden, Denmark, Finland|
|1972 SOUTH PACIFIC TOUR||Australia, New Zealand, California|
|1974 AFRICAN TOUR||Belgium, Kenya, Mombasa|
|1975 JAPAN TOUR||Osaka, Kyoto, Kibe, Tokyo, Hawaii|
|1977 WORLD TOUR||Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Denmark, England|
|1978 UNITED STATES TOUR||Denver, San Francisco, Las Vegas, St. Louis|
|1979 SECOND WORLD TOUR||People’s Republic of China, Egypt, Pakistan|
|1980 CANADA TOUR||Calgary, Knox, Banff|
|1981 EAST COAST TOUR||Washington DC, Florida|
|1982 TRICENTENNIAL TOUR||Queen Elizabeth 2 (transatlantic), London, Southampton|
|1983 ENGLAND TOUR||Queen Elizabeth 2 (transatlantic), London|
|1984 SECOND EUROPEAN TOUR||France, Italy, Monaco|
|1985 THIRD EUROPEAN TOUR||Yugoslavia, Greece|
|1987 “LET FREEDOM SING” TOUR||Thirteen Colonies|
|1988 IRELAND TOUR||Dublin, Waterford, Wexford|
|1989 GERMANY TOUR||Bonn, Hennef, Nurnberg, Hamburg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, East Berlin|
|1990 MIDDLE EAST TOUR||Israel, Jordan|
|1990 U.S.S.R. TOUR||Leningrad, Moscow, Yaroslavl, Rostov|
|1992 AUSTRALIAN TOUR||Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns|
|1993 25th ANNIVERSARY TOUR||England, Scotland, Wales|
|1994 CENTRAL EUROPEAN TOUR||Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland|
|1995 SWITZERLAND TOUR||Basel, Winterthur, Andelfingen, Unterageri, Tann (France)|
|1996 AUSTRALIAN TOUR||Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Sydney|
|1997 SOUTH AFRICAN TOUR||Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Knysna, Pretoria|
|1998 'OLD SOUTH' TOUR||New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Vicksburg, St. Francisville|
|1999 CUBAN TOUR||Havana, Pinar del Rio, Mantanzas, Santiago|
|2000 GERMANY & RUSSIA TOUR||Berlin, Hennef, Wuppertal, Hannover, Nizhny Novgorod|
|2001 CHINA & KOREA TOUR||Beijing, Hanchune, Tianjin, Incheon, Seoul|
|2002 FRANCE & ITALY TOUR||Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Florence, Venice|
|2003 FLORIDA & CUBA TOUR||Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Havana|
|2004 SCANDINAVIAN TOUR||Copenhagen, Lund, Oslo, Bergen, Reykjavik|
|2005 ALASKA & CANADA||Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert, Canada|
|2006 CENTRAL AMERICA TOUR||Florida, Panama, Costa Rica|
|2007 GREECE & TURKEY TOUR||Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Delphi, Athens|
|2008 SPAIN & GERMANY TOUR||Madrid, Seville, Granada, Toledo, Mecklenburg|
|2009 ARGENTINA & URUGUAY TOUR||Buenos Aires, Lujan, La Plata, Salto, Colonia, Montevideo|
|2010 CHINA TOUR||Shanghai, Xi'an, Beijing, Tianjin|
|2011 'WILD WEST' TOUR||Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, California|
|2012 BALTICS TOUR||Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia|
|2013 FRANCE TOUR||Paris, Loire Valley, Lisieux|
|2014 ENGLAND AND WALES TOUR||London, Cambridge, Leeds, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cardiff, Stonehenge|
|2015 (Upcoming) CHINA TOUR|
The Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale often appears on television; several networks during the holiday season and during the rest of the year - their 2007 Spring Concert was aired on WHYY. Their holiday arrangements have been featured on CBS, FOX29, and most recently "Good Morning America". 6ABC has shown some of their concerts. On December 24, 2009 the choir again performed on "Good Morning America".
- "About Us". Philadelphia Boys Choir. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Stoiber, Julie (22 September 2003). "Phila. Boys Choir director will take final bow next year". Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "Academy of Music: The Nutcracker". Philadelphia Theater. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "Senate Spouses Luncheon Featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir". The White House. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Mucha, Peter. "Phila. Boys Choir sings on ‘Good Morning America’". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "Honoring Israel". Carnegie Hall.