Few young men get to enjoy the unique experiences of performing with some of Philadelphia’s most well-known arts groups and in front of audiences around the world, but for members of the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale (PBCC), these are annual highlights. Singing with the program offers not only an exceptional music education, but opportunities to develop personal responsibility and build bonds with peers that help to set the stage for the next phases of life. These bonds can begin for boys in PBCC’s training programs starting as young as age seven.
“I grew up in the Philadelphia Boys Choir, which played a big part in developing my passion to pursue a career in music, and ultimately, coming back to the organization to provide the same memorable music and travel traditions for our next generation of PBCC singers,” explains PBCC Artistic Director Jeffrey Smith. “But no matter if the boys choose to continue with music or not, being a part of this team and preparing for professional performances has a tremendous impact on these boys’ characters, which crosses into all areas of their lives.”
The choir is now auditioning individuals ages seven to 13 who have a good ear for music and enjoy singing. The younger set will enter a training program with semi-weekly rehearsals throughout the season. Singers come from the Greater Philadelphia area and are from diverse economic and racial backgrounds, which alone has proven to be one of the more impactful facets of membership in PBCC.
“The boys form life-long friendships with others they would never have met within their own communities, broadening their social interactions and understanding of all kinds of people,” added Smith.
In addition, PBCC is searching for men in the area to join the “chorale.” The chorale mostly consists of PBCC alumni and fathers of boys in the choir, but also includes men in the community who have some experience in choral singing and would like to be a part of the group. The unique multi-generational experience is a great way for boys and men to collaborate musically and perform together.
PBCC has produced a number of famous alumni, from CBS3’s Ukee Washington to Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman to award-winning Broadway composer Benj Pasek, as well as many like Smith who have established successful music careers as conductors, composers, singers, musicians, instructors, and more. The musical education provided at PBCC speaks for itself, but its singers tend to speak more broadly about how the structure and exploration of their years with the Choir positioned them for what comes after PBCC and school, which often includes high school/college applications and job interviews.
James Jabbour, a recent alumnus of the choir, shares that he’s “gotten to go to some incredible places, like Vietnam, Italy, and Cuba, which made it hard to narrow down a topic to write about for my college essays last year. But I’m so thrilled I was accepted to my dream school and I’ve continued singing with a group there as I pursue my degree….I’ll hopefully keep traveling too.”
You can find more information and sign up for an audition at phillyboyschoir.org/auditions.