Originally founded on March 6, 1965 as the Cincinnati All-City Boys Choir, the choir made its debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus for a presentation of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. At that time the Instructional Consultant of Music for the Cincinnati Public Schools, Robert McSpadden conducted the choir’s weekly rehearsals and organized its program and concerts with no budgetary support from the Cincinnati Public Schools other than the provision of rehearsal space and the use of copiers for duplication of music; the director and his assistant wrote all of the early arrangements for the boys to sing, pieces which remain in the Boychoir’s repertoire to this day. The choir program came to its demise at the end of the 1976-1977 season when the tax levy for the Cincinnati Public Schools failed and the choir lost both its rehearsal space and the use of the copiers.
A Second Chance
Founded anew in 1978, the new Cincinnati “Boyschoir” (later “BoyChoir,” and finally “Boychoir” to be consistent with the formal term later adopted by the American Choral Directors Association) permitted singers from the newly developing surrounding school districts to participate. The choir rehearsed in churches, with the exception of the 1985-1986 school year when practices were held at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. The choir began its presentation of an annual tour outside the greater Cincinnati area in 1981.
Randall Wolfe, the choir’s assistant director and accompanist beginning in 1981, became the director in 1986. In 1988, Mr. Wolfe developed the choir into a two-tiered structure. The Preparatory Choir trained first-year singers, who then moved up to the Concert Choir for more skilled veteran boys.
In 1993, the director added a third tier. Now boys began their singing careers in the Training Choir. They moved up to the Resident Choir and strived to reach the Concert Choir. In 2011, the Boychoir restructured to place a high value on the older boys teaching the younger ones; while the Training Choir remains the initial experience for novice boys, the Concert Choir handles the bulk of in-town performances. The Tour Choir is comprised of boys selected from the Concert Choir to perform nationally and internationally in special appearances.
Having rehearsed in fourteen different schools, churches, synagogues, and halls over a period of thirty-three years, the choir purchased in 1998 its first permanent rehearsal home, which includes a 900-square-foot rehearsal hall and space for offices, wardrobe, and music.
In 2012, the space needs of the Boychoir outgrew the building. The choir moved its rehearsals to the Hamilton County Memorial Hall on Washington Park in downtown Cincinnati. After two years, Memorial Hall closed for renovation and the Aronoff Center for the Arts invited the Cincinnati Boychoir to join them as artists in residence.
Directors of the Boychoir
Robert McSpadden, Founding Director 1965-1977
William Dickinson, Director 1978-1986; Assistant Director 1965-1977
Randall Wolfe, Director 1986-2008; Assistant Director 1981-1986
Bryan Mock, Interim Director 2008-2009
Christopher Eanes, Director 2009-2019
Jason Alexander Holmes, Artistic Director 2019-present