Boston Archdiocesan Choir School names new director
  • Before the closing segment of last night’s annual Boston Archdiocesan Choir School spring concert, shouts of delight greeted the announcement that Associate Director Jennifer Lester had been chosen to succeed John Dunn as the school’s Music Director.

    Jennifer, a native of Long Island, received her Bachelors degree in organ, with honors, from the New England Conservatory and a Masters degree in conducting at Yale. She later studied organ in Vienna under a Fulbright grant. Before joining the BACS as Associate Director in 1999, she was music director for many years at St. Mary’s in Holliston, Massachusetts, where she developed the most successful suburban music program in the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1997, Jennifer founded the Seraphim Singers, an ensemble devoted to sacred music and with an impressive history of presenting premiere performances of works by promising young composers. [See seraphimsingers.org ]

    Though it might not at first appear so, the choice of Lester was not a foregone conclusion. Over forty applicants, from locations as diverse as California, the UK and even Africa, were carefully considered in a process that took many months. Four finalists were selected and each came to Cambridge for an audition and interview. All were outstanding organists.

    There were many qualities the search committee considered necessary. Besides being an excellent organist and a proven choral conductor, the successful candidate had to demonstrate imaginative improvisatory skills. (As many of you know, the liturgies at St. Paul Church involving the boy choir have long processions requiring extensive improvisatory interludes.) He or she needed to demonstrate the ability to command the focused attention of young, active boys. A working knowledge of the Ward Method and experience with bell choirs, both fundamental to the school’s teaching regimen, was indispensable. Also, given that an American choir school does not receive financial support from the government, the candidate had to possess a convincing, articulate presence required for fundraising and recruitment. Knowing how difficult and pressure-filled the position is, the committee was looking therefore for someone with extensive experience, maturity, poise, and interpersonal skills.

    Jennifer possesses all these qualities. For those asking the inevitable question, no, she is not the first woman to head a boy’s choir school. That distinction, I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong), goes to a woman in Ireland.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 310
    Congratulations to Jennifer! This is good news indeed to all who know and love the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School. Our prayers, support, and best wishes are with you, Jen-Jen!