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.
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.
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.
Adrian Alhadidi, 7th grade
What I am REALLY thinking when I perform when I sing, I have no feelings of stage fright. As I sing, I am mostly thinking about what words come next. Even when it’s really tempting to look around, I don’t, because maybe Mrs. Nelson is giving a really important signal and it would be embarrassing if I missed it.
Some of the older boys tell me about funny stuff they see in the audience but I really don’t notice very funny things because I am looking at the Director.
Our Director makes us work really hard, but I like it. For instance, take a song that we recently performed, the German carol, In Dulci Jubilo. We spent many hours in total working on the last chord! I love how Mrs. Nelson pays attention to detail. She makes sure that we sound good.
Seb, 5th grade
Singing in a Boychoir means having a sense of maturity, yet still having a sense of fun. It requires a balance of focus and a sense of humor and knowing when, is the appropriate time for each.
I have to admit, sometimes during rehearsal my mind dozes off into space. However, when I am on stage, I TRY to think about the music and the correct words that should be coming out of my mouth.
One of the funniest things lately that I have seen was at a wedding in Austin. The flower girls were dressed as angels and had Angel Wings strapped to the back of their dresses.
Our director makes us work hard, but it pays off!
Keaton (7th grade)
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
Today we had a great time hanging out with the Pueblo Children’s Chorale! We started out today hanging out with our host families for a while, but soon found ourselves saying goodbye to everyone (And,in my case, four dogs!) Our hosts took us to the Pueblo Riverwalk, where we split into groups to go on a river tour. The tour was fantastic with great photo opportunities along the way. Afterwards we went shopping in Pueblo, and then had an amazing lunch at an Italian pizzaria. Too soon, however, we had to say goodbye, and the Chorale surprised us by singing an excellent goodbye song… Now, as I type this up, we are on our way to Breckingridge to explore the Country Boy Mine. We are amazed, yet again, by all the beauty of Colorado, with towering ice tipped mountains and lush green forest and abundant forest life, too vast and beautiful to photograph…