The St. John’s Boys’ Choir offers an enriching experience in music education with an emphasis in vocal music, as well as the socializing experience of shared enterprise, fellowship, cultural awareness, and touring for boys ages 8-15. The Choir promotes vocal music education in Central Minnesota and offers the unique experience of a well-trained boys’ choir to its audiences.
Now in its 37th season, The St. John's Boys' Choir continues the tradition of enabling boys to express themselves through music, and provides an environment that nurtures and encourages creativity. Members of The St. John’s Boys’ Choir represent home, public, and private schools in more than 15 communities around Central Minnesota.
Founded in 1981 by Br. Paul Richards of the Saint John's monastic community, the choir has grown over the past 35 years to include four musical ensembles - a Concert Choir for treble voices in grades 6-8, a Junior Varsity Choir for intermediate singers, a Training Choir for beginning singers, and Nova Voce - our newest ensemble, for boys with changing and newly changed voices in grades 7-9. On May 12, 1993 the choir became independent of the Abbey, self-incorporated, and formed a board of directors, which serves as the governing body. The choir still maintains strong ties with the monastic community as well as Saint John's University, ministering at several liturgies throughout the year and performing at various university concerts and events.
Choir members regularly meet for 3-4 hours each week to learn proper breathing, music literacy, solfège, music history, performance etiquette, recorder instructions, ear training, and voice care. The St. John’s Boys’ Choir performs approximately fifty concerts per year which include a repertoire of sacred, classical, folk, and Broadway music. Concert sites include local schools, churches, civic organizations, private business, public performances, and in concert halls around the world. The choir collaborates with orchestras, professional adult choral groups, other children choirs, as well as with nationally recognized organizations. They have also been selected to perform at state and divisional conferences of the American Choral Directors' Association.
Committed to promoting musical education in Central Minnesota, SJBC, in collaboration with the SCSU Cantabile Girls Choir, hosts the Central Minnesota KidSing Festival, inaugurated in 2008 to bring together school chidlren from the community for a day of music making. The choir has also organized outreach programs in inner city schools and often performs for local school children either at matinee theater performances or through school visits. The choir frequently performs with local artists such as the Cantabile, the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota, the Minnesota Center Chorale, the Amadeus Chamber Symphony and the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra.
The choir seeks to promote the culture of Minnesota and has collaborated with several Minnesota artists including Jearlyn Steele and George Maurer, and have appeared on Garrison Keillor's nationally-broadcast A Prairie Home Companion. The choir has commissioned and premiered works by several Minnesota composers, including René Clausen and Eric Barnum, including an opera for boys - The Star Gatherer by Stephen Paulus (25th anniversary commission). In 2009 the choir reinstituted and hosted the Minnesota State Boychoir Festival, bringing together the state's community boys' choir organizations for the first time in three decades.
The boys also act as amabassadors around the world, singing in churches and concert stages in countries spanning three continents. In 2008 the boys represented Minnesota and the United States at the World Festival of Singing for Men and Boys in the Czech Republic. The choir has hosted several international festivals, including the world's largest male choir festival, AmericaFest, five times (1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005) and recently appeared at the Pacific International Children's Choir Festival and Oregon Bach Festival.
The choir has produced six independent recordings, most recently "Larger Than Life", which features a mix of sacred and secular music, focusing on choral traditions around the world. The choir can also be heard on recordings by Saint John's Abbey and University, on Amy Grant's Music of the Spirit CD, and on the Grammy-nominated album Ghosts Upon the Earth by Gungor.
The Training Choir is made up of approximately 25 of the newest choirboys. Auditions are held during January with weekly two-hour rehearsals beginning in February and running through the end of May. The primary goals of this choir are to develop a well-supported, unison sound, and to become familiar with basic note-reading and music theory. The Training Choir performs for the annual Spring Gala and at area churches.
Conductor: Brandon Nordhues • Pianist: Aaron VanDanacker
The Junior Varsity Choir comprises boys in their second or third year of the program. In addition to their regular 2 hours of rehearsal, the 26-32 boys in this group spend an hour each week before rehearsal studying theory, developing keyboard skills, and taking voice lessons. Each year, the JV travels to a different US destination for a week to perform at various schools and churches.
Conductor: Joshua Smith • Pianist: Matt Kiminski
The Concert Choir comprises between 25-36 of the most senior trebles of the program. These singers pursue more challenging repertoire and learn more advanced vocal techniques. The group rehearses twice a week for 2 hours and studies theory as well. The group tours every year, alternating domestic and international travel.
Conductor: André Heywood • Pianist: Sean Jacobson
Nova Voce is an ensemble dedicated to developing and celebrating the boy's changing voice. The young men work on TB choral repertoire aimed at developing their new voice, as well as SATB repertoire that they perform regularly with the Concert Choir. This ensemble meets once a week for two hours of rehearsal.
Conductors: André Heywood & Brandon Nordhues • Pianist: Sean Jacobson