The boychoir is an ancient tradition which dates back well over a thousand years. Our boychoir forms the soprano section of the Choir of Men & Boys which sings each Sunday morning. Many of the men of our choir started out as boy choristers in various local boychoirs, many of which, sadly, no longer exist.
When a boy begins his training as a chorister he is referred to as a Probationer. During this probationary period he learns the fundamentals of reading music and vocal production. At first the probationers rehearse only two days a week and do not sing on Sundays. Eventually (after a few months) the probationers will be invited to join the Senior Boys at service on Sundays. Ultimately the boys will rehearse three times a week, although the rehearsal schedule is designed to be very flexible, particularly for the first year boys.
When the probationary chorister has mastered his basic vocal techniques, he will be permitted to wear a surplice (the white vestment worn over the black robe) to designate his status as a full chorister. The Choir is enrolled in the Royal School of Church Music
in England, signified by the ribbon that each full chorister wears. Upon completion of appropriate testing, the chorister will eventually achieve his light-blue ribbon with a medal of St Nicolas (patron saint of children). As he progresses through the training program, he can graduate to his dark-blue ribbon, and later his red ribbon. Occasionally, an exceptionally advanced chorister will earn a gold ribbon.
Unlike many children’s music ensembles which charge upwards of $1600 per annum, our tuition is fully subsidised. This means our education is provided to each boy at no cost
to his family. In addition, all the boys in the probationer and senior choirs are salaried, indicating their professional status. The probationer boys are given a small stipend, and this is increased upon entry to the senior choir. The stipend is incremented upon progressing to each new level of musical proficiency. (These levels are designated by the colour of ribbon worn be each full chorister.)
The boys are given many opportunities to spend time together as a group in settings which do not require their usual commitment of hard work and professionalism. (ie: time to be boys and have some fun!) Throughout the year - especially in the summer months - we take time off for various activities such as LaserTag, bowling, and trips to the cinema. The choirboys are treated to many opening day events at the Senator Theatre
- most recently the Harry Potter and Star Wars movies. The Choir continues to sing most Sundays during the summer, however the boys do not continue their rigourous schedule of rehearsals when school is not in session. It is anticipated that many families go away on vacations at this time of year, so we are often a reduced number of singers on these Sundays. During the summer, the boys routine usually involves coming in one day a week to rehearse, grab lunch and go out for a movie. Naturally, a choristers summer months are very free and should not feel at all restrictive to his familys schedule.
At the end of the summer (usually the last full week in August) the Boychoir travels to the beautiful mountains of Romney, West Virginia for Choir Camp. The Camp is held at the Peterkin Diocesan Conference Center
. Some members of our Choir have been going to this camp since the 1980s. While participation in this camp is not strictly mandatory the first year, it is a wonderful opportunity for new boys to excel in their singing skills and to strengthen the bonds of their new friendships. While the idea of being away from home for a week may seem a bit daunting to some initially, most apprehensions are forgotten within hours of arriving at Peterkin. A variety of sports & other activities is available - softball, basketball, volleyball, LAX, tennis, hiking, pool swimming (supervised by a certified life-guard), an afternoon of tubing on the south branch of the Potomac River (1-3 feet deep, accompanied by aforementioned lifeguard in a canoe), a campfire with stories and - the final night out - a journey to the megalopolis of Romney for pizza. The boys spend some time each day in rehearsal for the upcoming year and for the Advent Carol Service. Just before dinner each evening, the choristers sing Evensong together in the Peterkin chapel, and they participate in a candlelight Compline service before retiring each night. More information about the camp is available upon request at any time.