Organizations: Atlanta Boy Choir
The Atlanta Boy Choir celebrates its 50th anniversary this month with a concert at the Rialto Center marking the debut of a new work by Stephen Paulus.
Shortly thereafter, choir members will be jetting off for a summer tour of the Ukraine and Russia. And while keeping a watchful eye on 26 talented young men might not seem like an ideal summer vacation, it’s a labor of love for the choir’s new Executive Director, Adisa Nickerson.
A choir alum, Nickerson says he’s “having a ball,” at the job he took on this January, even though his staff is small – just himself, Artistic Director David White, Accompanist Rosemary White and Administrative Assistant Diane Guest. However, he’s quick to note that choir parents and board members are willing to step in and help at a moment’s notice.
That’s a good thing, considering that choir members can be as young as 4 or 5. Boys of that age, and up to 7 years old, belong to the Apprentice Choir, where they learn the basics of singing, listening and responding to the director. From there they move up to the Training Choir, which Nickerson says is a little more involved, focusing on technique and Boy Choir methodology.
Members of the Intermediate Choir participate in a short tour. “It’s about singing,” Nickerson says, “but it’s also about learning to conduct themselves as part of the choir, how to behave when you’re in public, how to treat each other, how to treat adults that you come into contact with, how to represent the choir.”
Their ultimate goal, Nickerson says, is a spot in the Concert Choir. This group comprises about 25 young men who perform some 25 times a year (they sang the national anthem prior to this year’s NHL All-Star game). They’re also featured on the CD There Will Be Joy, a collection of spirituals. This summer they will sing for Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko and perform with the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.
As the boys mature and their voices change, they become part of the Atlanta Young Men’s Ensemble. Current members range in age from 16 to 20, and help out with chaperoning and, occasionally, with performances.
Choir alumni also remain in-volved, Nickerson says, many of them with the organization’s board. “We really try to play a major part in that transition from boys to men,” he says. “To have so many men who came through that program and are now in a position to be influential with the choir is, I think, our greatest accomplishment.”
Nickerson encourages alums who are interested in reestablishing contact with the choir to do so.