Friday, May 17, 2013


The American Boychoir, direct by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz
        This weekend the world renowned American Boychoir is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. Established in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937 by Founding Director Herbert Hoffman, the Columbus Boychoir moved to Princeton, New Jersey, in 1950, where until the current school year it was located at Albemarle, the former Lambert family estate. It is now located on the expansive campus of the Princeton Center for the Arts and Education (PCAE), with two other schools as its sub-tenants.
        In 1980 under the enterprising leadership of  Board Chairman Herbert W. Hobler, who got a green light from the American Choral Directors Association, the name of  the school was officially changed to the American Boychoir School, which remains the nation’s only non-sectarian boarding school. The American Boychoir is America’s most widely touring and frequently performing choral ensemble.
        On their recent Spring tour they were the over-night guests of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, New York, where my daughter the Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes is pastor. With the help of
Elsie's sister and brother-in-law Ellen and Mike Kanarek, who drove up from Princeton, New Jersey, for the event, some of the members of the church and other Cooperstown residents, were able to feed and billet the boys and their accompanying adults, and I was able to help arrange for them to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
        In return for the gracious welcome and hospitality they received at the famous baseball shrine, the boys sang a special arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which was written “on the road” by Tour Proctor Matt Caruso for the occasion and learned the day before by the boys. They sang in the actual Hall of Fame, sacred space to baseball fans, surrounded by the plaques of the legends of the game. They also sang their wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.
        The folks at the Hall of Fame were so impressed that they want to put the song on their web site. Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz is going to send them a more polished version of the song, but this was amazingly good for their having had practically no time to rehearse it beforehand. It was recorded on an I-Phone.
        Matt Caruso has written a really clever arrangement of what is surely one of America’s most familiar songs, with some of the boys singing the names of  Major League teams in sync and harmony with the melody. You will see boys raising their hands throughout the song. They were invited by their director to do so whenever they heard the name of their favorite team mentioned.
        The Boychoir also performed a mini-concert in the church sanctuary that evening for their delighted billet and dinner hosts, who were tremendously impressed.  
        To see the American Boychoir in the Baseball Hall of Fame, click on picture. They had arrived in their tour bus just a few minutes before and had been welcomed by one of the executives. To hear their first rendition ever of  “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” click on song.

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