The start of an adventure. It has been years in the making. It was summer tour 2010 on tour in Baltimore when we said let’s go to South Africa for the 50th Anniversary Summer Concert Tour of the Singing Boys of Houston, now Houston Boychoir. So for the next two seasons we did a little extra fundraising and worked ahead and then the real planning began in the spring of 2012.
Thank goodness for the internet. We had our dear Jannie to send the names of choirs to contact and so it began. A wonderful agenda has been put together for the education of the boys both musical, geographical and social. But before we leave there is the packing.
Now as a traveler, I believe in going it light but not when traveling with HBC. Then it is traveling for 35. What do we need? Med forms, uniforms, gifts, first aid kits, extra ties, extra music, permissions and passports. New communication accessories and lists and more lists.
It’s 13 days until we leave. It is 8:30 PM as I write this and 13 days from now, we will be half way to Amsterdam and less than a third of the way to our first destination of Cape Town.
I hope you’ll join us as we go. If you want to send advice on travel, do so before July 16th. By then we will be up in the air and off and running.
To be a member of the Houston Boychoir is to experience life in ways that are unique to the average boy between the ages of 10 and 18. On such opportunity came when we decided to take our talents into the Texas Medical Center this holiday season.
It was a beautiful morning on December 8th when the boys of the Chamber Choir set out for Texas Children’s Hospital to spread good cheer and sing.
This was a new experience for these boys and in the early morning chill didn’t know what the day would bring.
Boys had the opportunity to sing for patients while on dialysis and their parents who sit with them tirelessly. The nurses on staff seemed to enjoy the joy of the singing as much or even more than anybody.
We hear they have few visitors on Saturdays and everybody seemed to be glad we were there. We could tell because we heard them singing along.
It was a privilege to be in the hospital and we knew it. After dialysis it was time for lunch so we went to the cafeteria where we were treated to cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Always a favorite with singing boys!
Of course all the hospital staff and some patients who were having lunch in the cafeteria wanted to hear Christmas carols too so we sang for them. The cafeteria lady who worked the cash register grinned the whole time!
All in all it was a trip to be remembered. At the next rehearsal the boys talked about how much it meant to them to be so close to the people in the hospital, the children, their parents and the staff.
To sing and to see on all the faces the sadness that comes from being in the hospital and the joy the boys could bring singing.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Teachers who support Houston Boychoir by believing in their boys who love music and trusting enough to refer. We thank you, we know how hard you work and we are partners. Thank you for keeping the music playing on!
Christ the King Lutheran Church thank you for your gift of house and home.
Thank you artist, friend and parent Louise who makes our face for the world to see.
Thank you ground troops, directors and accompanists with the Prep Choir and Mr. Sink your love is showing.
Thank you parent volunteers who drive, wash clothes, fit ever wiggling arms and legs for length of pant and sleeve, who publicize and spread the good name of Houston Boychoir, who plan and agonize along with the directors, who question where do we go from here.
The boys who come weekly or twice weekly through rain and wind and mountains of homework to lift their voices in song and color our lives with humor and music.
Thank you Business Leaders and Supporters, Bulls Eye Storage, CypherDesignStudio, Houston Arts Alliance, Kelsey Seybold Clinics, KUHF Radio, Parker Uniform, Pierpont Communications, Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Commission on the Arts, Dr. James Hoyle and Nancy Sims.
Thank you Board of Directors for your due diligence and devotion, thought and creativity.
See you all at the concert in December