Any Catholic Men & Boy Choirs in America ?
  • Are there any Catholic Men & Boy Choirs in America these days? I know that there are a few Catholic Boy Choirs. However, are there any in America that function liturgically together as a true Men & Boy Choir similar to Westminster Cathedral in London?

    Also, is there a listing of all male scholas here in America as well?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,138
    St. Paul's Cambridge,Mass was men and boys. Not sure now.

    Also, the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Not sure about that one either.

    Boy choirs are hard to find period. For instance, there are only two of us in the Archdiocese of Atlanta that even have boys singing by themselves. The rest are mixed choirs. Makes for getting men later a real heartache.

    One supposes that the tradition in this country has passed away with some exceptions. In Europe is another matter.
    One can check out Puericantores international website to see all the boy choirs and boys and men.

    One of real losses of the last thirty years. Not that I do not mind girls singing. But as a well known English choirmaster whose name I will not proffer said "There is a difference and those who do not acknowledge it are fooling themselves". I was reminded of that this fall when I instituted boys and girls. There is a difference!!!
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I think Jeffrey Morse does what you describe in California at this parish.

    My understanding is that he's had tremendous success. Hopefully before too long he'll be posting some recordings on this forum.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    Yes, St. Paul Church in Cambridge still has a men's choir and the archdiocesan boy choir.
  • For those looking for a stocking stuffer, may I recommend a CD from the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School? You can purchase BACS CDs here: Boston Boy Choir
    Though there are several from which to choose, all but one have a Christmas theme. (As to the obvious question as to why there aren’t CDs featuring other repertoire, the answer is simple: Christmas CDs guarantee a profit on which the school depends.)

    Of the Christmas discs I prefer “The Holly and the Ivy.” It not only includes perhaps the best available recording of Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata” and the only recording of James Woodman’s wonderful “Arise and Shine,” but two early takes with Theodore Marier conducting in 1967. The latter provides grist for then-and-now comparisons. The CD also features Marier’s fanfare to “Come All Ye Faithful,” a Christmas tradition at St. Paul Church that is based on the choir school’s telephone number.

    “The Holly and The Ivy” also provides an opportunity to hear the school’s handbell and recorder ensembles. After joining the BACS men’s schola several years ago, I confess to being somewhat irritated by the raucous standing ovations the handbell group routinely received at concerts. They just seemed to overshadow other more substantive accomplishments. I no longer hold that opinion. Besides providing excellent rhythmic training, played at this level the handbells serve as a kind of much needed athletic outlet for the boys. Though you can’t see them on a CD, they really are fun to watch.
  • Do the men actually sing with the boys on a regular basis at St. Paul's RC Church in Cambridge, MA?
  • Jeff, Thanks for your kind words! I do indeed have choir and choristers, but the choristers are mixed boys and girls. I had seen this done successfully so many times in England, and as it was not a question of having the choir in the liturgical "Great Choir" (ie the Sanctuary) at St Stephen's, the then pastor Fr John Berg, FSSP and I decided that the choristers would be mixed.

    Coincidentally, Jeffrey Tucker just posted today a recording of some of my male cantors singing ASPICIENS A LONGE the great Advent responsory under a post about this Chant. The Choir and Choristers singing Advent Lessons and Carols, or a least a few of the pieces seem to be up on YouTube, perhaps if there is anything worthwhile, I will post it here if there would be any interest.
  • Ken of Sarum,

    The men's schola sing with the boys each Sunday (11 a.m.) during the school year as well as three Christmas concerts and a spring concert. (The latter usually features a major work with orchestra.) The boys sing alone, however, at the weekday morning mass.

    It should also be noted that St. Paul's also has one of the best volunteer parish choirs (women and men) in the country. They sing at the 9:30 a.m. mass each Sunday during the school year and are led by the assistant director of the choir school.
  • Jeffrey Morse,
    I would be interested in you posting recordings on the forum. Thanks!
  • Randolph Nichols - THANKS! As far as I know, St. Paul's is the ONLY one. Do you guys sing in the GREAT CHOIR area of the sanctuary of in an organ loft?

    Jeffrey Morse - I looked over your site and I envy your music program. Love your choir rehearsal room! Congrats! However, I am in agreement (if I interpret correctly), with your pastor that ONLY a men and boys choir should be singing in the GREAT CHOIR area of the sanctuary. Also, I am one of those that believe that although boys and girls CAN sing together, each of them respectively DO have very distinctive qualities vocally; not to mention emotional and psychological issues.

    Therefore, I would not be in favour of a Men, Boys AND Girls choir like so many liberal Anglican Cathedrals and other liberal Anglican progressives have done. My heart is tremendously grieved for the Men and Boy Choirs of centuries of history and tradition that have scummed to "progressive liberals" within the church by either out right dissolution or change in order to be "politically correct." I once sang in one of the oldest Episcopal Cathedral Men & Boy Choirs in the USA. It was dissolved on purpose in favor of a "progressive liberal mixed choir" from another church whose pastor dismissed due to controlling issues. Eventually, this same mixed choir took over every aspect of the cathedral and now you wouldn't even recognize it. I have had Girls Choirs and they are wonderful and quite advance in many ways. I just prefer that they and Boys should NOT sing together in the GREAT CHOIR area of the sanctuary.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,138
    It would appear that St. Paul's is the only one, though the Madeleine has a boychoir, it is not clear if they sing with the men or not. I used to know someone there, but he has left.

    So, then the question arises, why have boys sing by themselves or with men? That is quite simple. Boys have a different sound, develop differently from girls (not better, just different) and need male leadership. Spending time with the French choirs of boys and men showed me how crucial the third element is to good male development.

    It take a heck of a lot more work to recruit boys. But, it is worth it.

    For the record, I have a girlchoir also. That is its own mess of troubles. It is worth it also.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,067
    One of my classmates in grad school at UT was a choirboy at Madeleine in his childhood. I believe he still would go back on holidays whilst in college to sing bass, so I think they still sing as men and boys.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    My very humble children's choir (14 voices, open to anyone grades 3-8) had always been essentially girls-only. Two years ago we had 3 boys. Last year we had 6 boys. This year we have 8 boys. Singing seems to be growing in popularity - and since I've added simple Gregorian chant to their repertoire it seems to have interest growing among them. Hopefully I don't have the rug pulled out from under me too soon.
  • Golden Gate Boys Choir has a boys choir that sings with the changed voices boys ages 7 -18. The older boys also learn to bellring. Under the Direction of Steve Meyer.
  • doneill
    Posts: 204
    Yes, the Cathedral of the Madeleine does have a men and boys choir as part of the choral program with the Madeleine Choir School. The Choir School has both a boys' choir and girls' choir that sings regularly with the adults of the Cathedral Choir. They commonly alternate Sundays; sometimes the adults or combined boys' and girls' choirs will sing on their own.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 311
    The choir of Men& Boys at St. Paul Cambridge has experienced an extraordinary transformation under the direction of John Robinson in recent years. The men are now all professional musicians, and the boys have assumed a much more forward sound, and a great emphasis on plainchant and polyphony.
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 468
    There was briefly a Choir of Men and Boys at Holy Trinity (Catholic) in Manhattan in 2006, but it seems it went away when a new organist was hired in 2007.
  • Stella611
    Posts: 111
    I saw the comment that it helps for boys to have male leadership. What if you as the director, are female? Any advice?
    I do plan on having the newly formed boys choir sing with the men's schola as a way to start.
    We are an FSSP parish in Irving TX, and I have so many children who will be involved, that I am separating the girls and boys (and I knew by doing so I could also get more boy involvement).
    I will have about 20 in EACH choir.

    Any other advice you may have as I start this new endeavor?
    Some other info:
    1) we are going to start the first year with chant pieces, ear training, and learning to read chant notation.
    2) Each choir will sing once during Advent and together the Sunday after Christmas. Likely will sing once during Lent and on Palm Sunday for the procession.
    3) Age range is about 7 yrs to 12 yrs old (some girls are a little older than that. Boys I put the cutoff at when their voice changes)

    4) I could really use some advice about how to work with boys when their voices are changing: how do you involve them?? any resources to help train them through the transition?? This is an area where I am at a loss of what I should do.

    Thank you!

    Kimberly Walters

  • Jamie
    Posts: 40
    I don't really know for sure, because I'm from Scotland, but I'm sure there is a Boston Archdiocesan Boys Choir too, and from what I hear, they are excellent!

    God bless.
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 854
    Boys I put the cutoff at when their voice changes

    I could really use some advice about how to work with boys when their voices are changing: how do you involve them?? any resources to help train them through the transition?? This is an area where I am at a loss of what I should do.

    This is tricky because it's different for every boy. If your men's schola is strong enough, I would just move them into that group. Eventually, after you build up your program enough that there are a number of teenage boys whose voices have changed, you might be able to start a schola for just that age group. But in the beginning when the first boy's voice is changing, you're going to need to put him somewhere.

    Whatever you do, KEEP HIM SINGING. This is very important, even if it means one of your other ensembles has to "suffer" for a while. Long-term, the future of male singing as a whole suffers when guys get discouraged during this time in their lives.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    Agree! I dropped out of choir when my voice changed. For forty years.
  • In accordance with the 1903 "Moto Proprio" of Pope Pius X and the directive of the U.S. Bishops, that women were no longer allowed to sing in church choirs, The St. Augustine Men's Choir was formed in Minster, Ohio in 1907 and are still singing regularly most Sunday masses and all special occasions. Our repertoire besides religious, includes, barbershop, spirituals, secular and patriotic songs. We practice every Wed. evening. Our season is from Sept. to May, but sing for special occasions during the summer. The present group of 25 men have a combined total of 538 years of service.
    As far as I can tell, we are one of the oldest, if not, the oldest continuously singing all men's Catholic church choirs in the nation. (Excluding seminaries, cathedrals and Universities) If anyone is aware of an older men's church choir, please reply.
    Our Music Ministry consists of Children's Choir, Mixed Choir, Men's Choir, Resurrection Choir, Instrumentalists, Cantors, Brass Ensemble, Bell Choir and Folk Group. Our Director of Music is Mrs. Amy Noykos
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Now in our sixth year, Capella Pueri at Saint Peter's Catholic School (Columbia, SC) is a mixed boys & girls choir (grades 3-6) that seats the boys separately (and at a little social distance) from the girls in rehearsal to let the boys' unique sound be heard and emulated. The girls have much better impulse control, so their behavior is to be imitated. I've had vocally and musically strong 6th grade boys for the past three seasons and their sound will color a mixed SATB choir when we've sung larger anthem rep. Giving the boys even this small bit of TLC encourages them to "man up." From a school of only 110 students (Pre-K4 thru 6), I've got 13 boys and 8 girls singing. $50 scholarships awarded twice a year and occasional $5 Mass stipends ($10 for Christmas and Easter) also don't hurt, and teach them about stewardship when they are accountable to give 10% back to a charity of their choice. Growth has been slow, but steady, and incredibly rewarding.
  • All Saints Ashmont in Dorchester, MA has a choir of men and boys.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    Well, the original question was about Catholic choirs, but All Saints, Ashmont is noteworthy in its own right as an Episcopal Church parish with a strong musical tradition.
  • Reval
    Posts: 163
    FWIW, five long years ago, Kevin in KY mentioned the Pueri Cantores international. This is actually boys and girls mixed, at least in my diocese (probably everywhere in the US).

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    [Correction: Earlier today I posted some incorrect information on this thread about user "Ken of Sarum", who started the thread in 2009. He is still among us and still pursuing a devout life. I am happy to apologize for my error! --RC]
  • richardUKrichardUK
    Posts: 80
    About 25 years ago, in my native Chicago, I was asked to form a professional choir of men and boys from scratch, at a parish on the northwest side of Chicago. The priest in charge had been a member, in his youth, of the Paulist Choir of Chicago, a Catholic men and boys choir that no longer exists. I was able to get 12 boys (from the school attached to the parish) who were good enough at matching pitches and could be trained, and I was given a budget to pay 6 men for one rehearsal and one Mass per week, to sing countertenor, tenor and bass. Things went pretty well and within a two months we sang our first Mass. Sadly it started to become apparent that the only support the choir really had in this parish was the parish priest and the parents of the boys, who were thrilled at this new choir. An associate priest even came up to me one morning just before mass and said to me, within earshot of my boys, that he was "opposed to this whole thing". (I guess because there were no females in the choir?) Finally the female "pastoral associate" said that this new choir was proving "too divisive" in the parish and my contract would not be renewed. I wonder how much muck was stirred and gossiped before they reached that decision. Sadly the parish priest (who was fairly elderly), who got the choir idea started and hired me to form it, wasn't able to carry enough weight to keep it going. The boys' parents were heartbroken. I was out of a job. I think, in hindsight, there could have been a much better job of selling this choir to the parish. Fast forward, and St John Cantius Parish now exists in Chicago, which provides such a sterling example of a sacred music program, so maybe a choir of this type would have a better chance in Chicago now. I hope the climate for Roman Catholic men and boys choirs in the USA is more fertile than it was in Chicago in 1989.