Houston Boychoir Receives Prestigious Award from Mid-America Arts Alliance

Through a competitive application process, Houston Boychoir has been selected by the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) to participate in a unique project called ENGAGE Houston. In a two-year time frame, with hands on guidance, HBC will strengthen its governance, planning, resource development, and civic engagement capacity, which will enable HBC to grow its mission now and for the future. The award, which coincides with Houston Boychoir’s 50th Anniversary Season, is designed to assist staff and board members in building capacity as a cultural leader in Houston, empowering HBC to strengthen and sustain itself for the next 50 years.

As a cultural organization, Houston Boychoir has a strong history of partnership with and service to the Houston community. Working with HISD and the schools, with Texas Children’s Hospital and its commitment to arts in medicine, with Writers in the Schools and with Houston’s greatest cultural treasures: Houston Bach Society, Bay Area Chorus, Hope Stone Dance, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Mercury Orchestra and many more.  Houston Boychoir brings  unique resources of children and the arts to the Houston cultural landscape.

M-AAA, a nonprofit regional arts organization serving Texas and four other states, worked in formal partnership with Houston Endowment to provide 30 arts and cultural organizations in the Houston area the opportunity to address the unique needs of Houston’s cultural infrastructure, “using an outcome-based evaluation approach to ensure effectiveness, ultimately resulting in strengthened cultural institutions – a benefit to all residents and visitors of the Houston area.” Houston Endowment supports nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that produce and maximize enduring benefits for the people of the greater Houston area. Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones established Houston Endowment as a private philanthropic foundation in 1937 to help create a community where the opportunity to thrive is available to all.

The Big Dam Bridge

Boys arrived in the morning at the church eager to swap stories about where they stayed and what their families were like.  After hearing their stories and watching them bask in their new-found royalty, it is easy to see why they enjoy the event. Some of the boys were taken to the Big Dam Bridge, which they liked saying over and over and over again. Two of the boys saw fireflies for the first time. Now there’s a reason to get out of the city!! Boys are treated to baskets of snacks in their rooms and a few were taken to Five Guys for burgers, though they already had eaten dinner! Michael said his family’s home was like a palace and I am wondering if perhaps the adults might not like to billet in homes and be indulged in the manner to which they would like to become accustomed. After endless one-up-man-ship, it was time to settle in to the purpose of our business. Warm up the body, mind, and spirit and be prepared to enhance a congregation’s worship experience through music as only they can sing it.

A congregational point of view.

The rest of the day was spent in play. Work hard play hard. A beautiful countryside estate afforded the boys swimming, canoeing, tennis and their beloved basketball!! Then began a water game where one small tennis ball entertained 17 boys for hours!

All in all, a good day where the sun shone down on boys who sing and home they went, exhausted and happy.

First adventure off the bus

So, forty-five minutes outside of Houston Ms.Nelson says,”ooh look, that’s pretty, where are we?” The Woodlands replied Mr Fowler…45 said Ms. Holt. 45…45…45… Oh no we’re supposed to be on 59.  So we got off  I45 at HiWay 150 and went to New Waverly. Then jumped to FM 222 to Livingston, over the dam to FM 3278 to FM 1988 to Pan American drive to 59!!!

OK so we only lost 45 minutes but thanks to Ms Holt we saved 3 hours. She is now the designated navigator! Every tour needs one. Boys are happy just being together, didn’t know the difference! All they care about is lunch! First stop Nacogdoches!

Jonathan, Cem and Keaton first lunch of the tour.

Back on the bus it is time for rehearsal. Boys are ready and off we go with a little Exultate  Justi. When a good dose was finished the staff at the front of the bus spent a goodly portion of time singing in close harmony at the front of the bus. Who are the choir nerds now!

Travel, travel, travel. The countryside is lush and green with rolling hills and at last we arrive in Little Rock, at six o’clock. We disembark the bus and jog around the parking lot a few times to get the kinks out and at last we are let into the church. Mr. Bey leads a rousing rehearsal for Praise His Holy Name as families enter the sanctuary in anticipation of picking up their very own choir boy for a night or two.

Ms. Nelson continues the rehearsal, willing their voices to hold for just a few days more. It has been a huge semester of growth. Yes, make that physical growth, which means disaster for a choir made up primarily of trebles. But these are smart boys and good musicians and we make it work.

Boys are home with families making new friends and the staff has earned some well deserved rest. The morning will come quickly.

Traveling for 30

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Preparing for 30 to hit the trail for a concert tour is a bit like packing up a three-ring circus. In one ring you have boys: energetic, enthusiastic, enigmatic, ever-loving, voice changing boys!! In one ring you have stuff: med forms, snacks, props and costumes, gifts and cards, first aid,  kit, water, extra music, notes, notes and notes about where to go and what to do and of course, lists!!  In the third ring you have the adventure waiting to happen: friends to meet, concerts to sing, sites to see and memories to make.

In the morning bright and early we will hit the road.

Congratulations Alan Hamilton

Former chorister Alan Hamilton received a two year contract to work with the Stuttgart Staatsoper, one of Europe’s leading Opera Houses which forms part of the Stuttgart State Theatre (Staatstheater Stuttgart) a three-branch-theatre complex (opera, playhouse and ballet) and represents the largest theatre of its kind in Europe. The opera house itself, formerly known locally as the ”Grosses Haus”, was designed by Max Littmann and opened in 1912 with the world premiere of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos”. The house, which has been a listed building since 1924, currently has 1,404 seats and a per-season audience of approximately 250,000. The opera house building is one of the few major German opera houses not to be destroyed in the World War II.. The opera house is also home to the Stuttgart Ballet.

An important centre for opera since the 17th century, Stuttgart has again become an important and influential centre since the war, particularly for contemporary works. Three operas by Carl Orff received their premieres there and the company has been associated with figures such as Wieland Wagner, Günther Rennert, Hans Werner Henze and Philip Glass. The company has won the Opera House of the Year award by the German magazine ”Opernwelt” more often than any other company: in 1994 (the inaugural award), 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and in 2006..

Alan sang in the Houston Boychoir, attended HSPVA and continued to work for HBC as a staff accompanist throughout his undergraduate work at the Moores School of Music. Since leaving Houston, Alan has earned a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano where he studied with Martin Katz and an Artist’s Certificate from The Juilliard School where he has also served on staff.

Board of Directors’ President, Helen Currier honored with highest nursing award

Helen Currier, BSN, RN, CNN, CNEP, director of Renal and Pheresis Services at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston was awarded the prestigious Barbara Prowant Lifetime Achievement Award in Nephrology Nursing during the 32nd Annual Dialysis Conference held on February 25-28 in San Antonio, Texas. The award recognizes nephrology nurses who have made significant contributions to the advancement of nephrology nursing through clinical care, education, and research.

Currier, who was mentored by former award winners including Barbara Prowant, is a national and international consultant, author and lecturer in pediatric nephrology nursing. Her research interests include pediatric renal replacement therapies, issues facing chronically ill children, quality of life for pediatric chronic kidney disease patients, health care environmental design and the healing arts. In 2010, she was inducted as one of twenty inaugural distinguished fellows for the Society for the Arts in Healthcare.

Currier came to Texas Children’s Hospital in 1976 to serve as a charge nurse for a 20-bed pediatric cardiology unit and later as charge nurse and unit teacher in an 18-bed PICU. By 1980, she had moved into the Dialysis unit of Texas Children’s, where she has held many leadership jobs. During her 36-year career, she has authored or co-authored 17 abstracts, 27 publications and has represented Texas Children’s Hospital at numerous national and international conferences around the world. A highlight has been her interface with nephrology nurse colleagues in South Africa where in 2010 she was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the Renal Care Society of South Africa in recognition of devotion and contribution of exceptional merit to the Society.

Currier holds varied interests in the medical arts. She is active in 8 organizations and serves on the Boards of the National Renal Administrators’ Association, the Society for the Arts in Healthcare and the Houston Boychoir.

Leonard Sax to speak at the First Annual Status of Boys Scholarship Luncheon benefittin Houston Boychoir

Dr Oz says, “Boys Adrift is a must read” for any parent, educator, or mentor of boys.

Join us at the Junior League where Dr. Sax will talk about the problems facing many of today’s unmotivated, underachieving boys and he will offer practical solutions to nurture and help build strong futures for boys and their families.

Come for lunch and prepare to be entertained, engaged and enlightened all the while having an opportunity to meet with colleagues and friends.

You will be supporting one of Houston’s treasures in education and music making. Help us grow our boys!

There are a few tables availabe to be purchased as well as individual tickets.

Sponsored by Texas Children’s Hospital and Pierpont Communications this will one lunch not to miss.

La vie à pleines dents (to bite life with all of one’s teeth) Hope Stone Dance teams with Houston Boychoir, Mercury Baroque Orchestra

Jane Weiner’s acclaimed Hope Stone Dance Company premieres her newest work, la vie à pleines dents, with live music performed by Mercury Baroque, one of the nation’s leading period instrument orchestras. Also joining in this magical evening is the award-winning Houston Boychoir, under the direction of Carole Nelson. Hope Stone Dance overtakes a 10,000 square-foot raw space in downtown’s Houston Pavilions, making this the “pop-up art” performance of 2012 you won’t want to miss!

Houston Boychoir teams with Hope Stone Dance & Mercury Baroque Orchestra for a week of new dance set to timeless music. Listen to Bach’s Goldberg Variations played on period instruments by the incomparable Mercury Baroque Orchestra and ephemeral Houston Boychoir in a most unusal evening of Dance.

La vie à pleines dents (To bite life with all of one’s teeth) examines near-death experiences of terminally ill patients and death row inmates, giving new meaning to the cliché of “live each day like it’s your last.” Hope Stone dances amidst the music of Mercury Baroque and the award-winning Houston Boychoir.

A Boy and his Spoon!

Mr. Fowler surveys the playing field.Going Deep.The Winner!

You can imagine that with 50 years of singing boys, there are many traditions in Houston Boychoir.  The most honorable award is the Singing Boy of the year, but my personal favorite is the Spoon Award.

One of the fun things about being in Houston Boychoir  [are] that we have many opportunities to eat out; that is where the Spoon Award comes in. In order to win this award you have to eat every thing on your plate and be neat, (or as Mr. Fowler is quick to remind us, ” it is quantity and quality”)  but the spoon is always watching!

In my 2 years of going on tour with HBC, after our formal dinner we’ve always gone to get ice cream. Every boy gets whatever he wants and then the 4 boys, that have been neat and have eaten every thing on their plate, year round, are chosen to participate in the competition.

At the competition Mr. Fowler orders a lot of ice cream. The four boys sit at a table with the ice cream. They have a specified limit to eat but, there’s one more twist, you don’t get to eat with regular utensils, you must eat with an item that has something to do with tour (this year it was a miniature minor’s hat keyring or it could be a guitar pick like the year we were in Nashville). Eventually after all that, the boys start eating. When the time limit ends they are judged on neatness and amount eaten. Who ever wins gets the special spoon for the year and his name on a plaque. If the same person gets it for 3 years the spoon is retired.

Going Deep.

Adrian Alhadidi, 7th grade

The Winner!

A Boy Does a Man’s Work

Here is where they begin

Once In Royal David’s City, a traditional solo for a boy to sing during the Christmas season. Houston Boychoir featured two boys at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. St. Martin’s is the largest Episcopal Parish in the United States and the architecture is that of a gothic cathedral in the french style. It is a magnificent building to the glory of God.

But that’s not what prompts me, a music teacher and director to write. How do I say how proud I am of these two boys. Having taught for 20+ years I can tell you that these are quite ordinary boys. Today 2 sang. One is in 6th grade and one in 7th grade. They’re good students, both like popular music, they both enjoy video games and the computer and they still enjoy their parents. They are ordinary boys…

Until you put them in an environment of adult musicians and ask them to respond accordingly…and they do. They read music with the best of them, and they can adapt to new situations with the flash of a simple instruction. They stand like pros with not a hint of nervousness. They are truly amazing.

They make me so proud and assure me that what I have been called to do is the right thing. The right thing for me, for them, for their parents and for our future world together. How lucky I was to be called to this work, how fortunate indeed that I have been fulfilled in my love of music from childhood.

If you are reading this and you are the parent of a youngster, get them enrolled in music as fast as you can. Not to study music with the intent of making it their life work or becoming great artists.  Obviously society would be in trouble if everyone wanted only to be a great musician. But, studies have been done for some time now on basic intelligence as it relates to learning music and every child  if given the opportunity will benefit in scores of ways from music.

Music is mathematic in its rhythmic aspects.  Time is precisely subdivided into fractions which must be figured out on the spot from the musical notation. And they have to do it in their head, there is not time to work it out on paper.

Music teaches scientific principles of acoustics including sound intensity, tone quality, volume changes, melody and harmony.  each of these is related to its aesthetic implications.  through learning to tune and handle their instruments or voices, children can learn about harmonic vibrations and overtones.  They learn that the faster the vibration, the higher the pitch and the slower the vibration the lower the pitch and what sort of energy does it need to make that vibration at exactly the right speed and intensity.

Music teaches foreign language.  Terms in French, Italian and German tell us that there are many ways of saying the same thing.  Songs learned in foreign languages help accustom the child to the words and sounds of the language.  Text is more easily remembered when set to music.  It is truly the universal language.

Music teaches history,  Each of the recorded periods of human history has had a musical counterpart.  The music of each period expresses the times of which it is born.

Music teaches geography and understanding of different cultures.  The nature, the emotional makeup of a people is expressed in its music.  we learn specific feelings about a nationality as they are put forth by its composers, who often incorporate existing folk musical idioms in their music to create a nationalistic sense.

Physically, the study of music requires muscular coordination, agility and motor control.  Muscles of the hands, fingers, face and diaphragm must work together with perfect timing.  Kinesthetic senses develop as they relate to the sound that the ear hears and the mind interprets.

Music is art because it is human expression.  It is a medium through which man can express beauty.  Great music from all eras is great because it has power to humanize mankind.  It teaches us to be more feeling and sensitive.  It can take away depression.  It can provide impetus for action.  It can poetically describe all ranges of human emotion.  It can soothe troubled nerves or bring light into a dark world.  It can bless us with precious humor and increase our understanding of beauty, of compassion, of gentleness, of goodness and of life.  It can inspire men and women to good deeds and bring them closer to an infinite beyond this world.

Few things teach self-discipline as effectively as daily musical practice.  The work is not easy, and determination is required in order to reap the rewards.  David P. Gardner, president of the University of California, stated the case succinctly in an interview for the August 1984 issue of B.Y.U. TODAY when he said, “I think my capacity to concentrate and to be self disciplined in my approach to problems was significantly helped by my training on the piano and pipe organ.”

Musical training cultivates musical taste.  If children are not exposed to music of the masters, there is no reason to assume that they will choose to listen to it.  What’s more, it is the music that the children make themselves that has the greatest impact on them.  For a youngster, being in the heart of the group, the choir or orchestra, is many times more rewarding than listening to the same music performed by someone else.  Children who have a taste for a broad range of the great music will still enjoy what is popular, but they also know something greater!

So as I wish you all a happy New Year and I thank you for the privilege of working with your sons I congratulate you on having the foresight and the fortitude to stick with these extracurricular demands placed on you, on your children and on your family. It is worth it for your son and for the world in which we live.

English: No. 71 from St. Matthew Passion from ...

St. Matthew's Passion