The Boychoir of Ann Arbor
The voices of angels?
by James Leonard
In their annual Christmas program at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, the Boychoir of Ann Arbor sang with the voices of angels. In works taken mostly from the Anglican tradition of sacred choral music, the choir's expression was pure and solemn; they hymned the birth of the Savior with joyous voices in "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." In their program at Zion Lutheran Church in March, the Boychoir again sang with angelic voices. In a program containing works by Palestrina, Mendelssohn, and Rachmaninoff, the Boychoir sang with real and ardent devotion, praising the Lord with luminous voices in Mozart's sublime "Ave, verum corpus."
But in their performance at the Ann Arbor District Library in April, the Boychoir sang with the voices of mischievous angels, angels with gleams in their eyes and smiles on their lips. When they performed settings of Kipling, they sang about youthful innocence tinted with wistful experience. When they performed settings of Lewis Carroll, they sang of inspired nonsense colored with weird words and weirder neologisms. And when they did "Food, Glorious Food" from the Dickens adaptation Oliver, they displayed tangible and tasteful enthusiasm saturated with high spirits. Although they sing with the voices of angels, these angels are boys, and, when all is said and sung, boys just want to have fun.
They should be plenty of fun at the next Boychoir concert. Entitled "A Great Lakes Pageant," their performance at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Sunday, May 4, will celebrate living and shipping on the Lakes. There will be the tragic "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and the hilarious "Drunken Sailor," the rugged "Sailing Down to Gary" and the ever so slightly ridiculous "Gary, Indiana" from The Music Man. And there will also be a couple of tunes written by the boys themselves (with adult supervision by Michigan composer Dan Hall), "Sorrow in Their Wake" and "Twenty-nine Strong." While no one is expecting the profundity of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from the boys, everyone is expecting to have fun.
After all, boys will be boys.
[Originally published in May, 2003.]