Pacific Boychoir to sing here

Gift of music: The 51 Pacific Boychoir boys will bring their diverse repertoire to Singapore. -- PHOTO: PACIFIC BOYCHOIR ACADEMY
Gift of music: The 51 Pacific Boychoir boys will bring their diverse repertoire to Singapore. -- PHOTO: PACIFIC BOYCHOIR ACADEMY

One of the world's top boy choirs will make a stop here for the first time on their Asian tour

The boys of the Pacific Boychoir Academy have travelled around the world to sing at prestigious events and venues, and will be making their first visit to Singapore.

They will be holding a performance on July 20 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and members of the public are invited to enjoy the rich and diverse sound of the award-winning choir.

Singing on this tour are 51 boys aged 10 to 18. There will also be two university students who were formerly in the choir and now sing and serve as chaperones.

The Pacific Boychoir Academy was founded in 1998 in Oakland, California, by artistic director Kevin Fox.

From a group of six boys, the Academy have become one of the world's top boy choirs with more than 175 singers and three Grammy Awards under their belt.

Their album recorded with the San Francisco Symphony, Mahler's 8th Symphony, won Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album at the Grammy Awards in 2010.

The Los Angeles Times said in a review: "Pacific Boychoir's musical sophistication and quality of sound were astonishing."

Fox, 40, who has been involved in boys' choirs since the age of eight, is proud of the boys and their achievements.

"We have amazing teachers and leaders who believe in the importance of this for the boys and the musical community," he says.

With both a day school and an after- school choir programme, the all-boys Academy take in boys with a passion for singing, providing them a platform to facilitate both musical and academic commitments.

In many ways, the members of the Pacific Boychoir Academy are typical 10- to 18-year-old boys. They attend regular school lessons, play sports and enjoy time with their friends.

On top of all this, however, they also attend 15 hours of music training every week and travel for performances.

"You need to get rid of your social life sometimes," quips 16-year-old Ian Pitman, who sings tenor in the choir. "We even have a T-shirt that says 'I can't - I have rehearsal'."

Balancing their dedication to the choir with their everyday lives is a challenge, but the result of their hard work is the achievements that the boys are proud of.

For many of the them, their personal best moments are often from their travels when they get to sing and see the world at the same time.

For Cameron Miya, 14, it is difficult to choose one favourite accomplishment when he has sung at special occasions such as America's Got Talent and the memorial ceremony for the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Says fellow 14-year-old choir member Adam Arega: "At times, the schedule is hectic and tiring, but it is also very fun to do what you love with a group of people who love it too."

The choir will bring its rich performing experience and diverse repertoire to Singapore, presenting a setlist of 13 songs.

These include American folk music and pop music, with songs that range from Franz Schubert's Ave Maria to the pop classic All You Need Is Love by The Beatles, rearranged for choir by Fox.

"We hope to expose a new audience to our sound and simply give people an enjoyable musical experience that reaches them on an emotional level," he says.

Holding a concert outdoors poses many challenges, such as sound projection and ambient noise that can become a distraction for the audience and the performers.

However, he is well prepared in getting the best sound in the open setting and has confidence in his boys' experience in outdoor performances as well.

To the boys, the many hours of practice are worth the feeling of accomplishment they get when they go on tour.

"I enjoy getting to travel the world and giving the gift of music to people around the world," says Adam.

cherylm@sph.com.sg

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