The Cincinnati Boychoir is one of Cincinnati’s oldest and most beloved musical organizations for young people. Several thousand boys have passed through its ranks. From its start in 1965, the ensemble has grown into one of the most respected boychoirs in the world, performing throughout the United States, touring Canada, Europe, Australia, Great Britain, and Africa, singing alongside celebrated musicians and ensembles.
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.
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.
Dr. Christopher Eanes took the helm as Artistic Director in 2009, later expanding his role to include duties of CEO, and during his tenure oversaw the establishment of an endowed scholarship fund, the addition of changed voices to allow for more continuity in the boys’ experience during an otherwise challenging life transition, and the establishment of our three-year Cultural Curriculum which has been a turning point for our program.
In 2014, Dr. Eanes moved the Boychoir downtown to the Aronoff Center for the Arts, where it now enjoys thousands of square feet of rehearsal, performance, and office space, and a professional technical and house management staff that have enabled the Boychoir to reach thousands of patrons each year.
In July 2019, a new chapter for the Boychoir began with the appointment of Jason Alexander Holmes as Artistic Director and Katie MacDonald as Executive Director. By separating Artistic and Executive leadership roles for the first time in organizational history, we were able to strengthen business operations while deepening the artistic role we play within the community we serve. Under the leadership of Jason Alexander Holmes, our artistic programming and cultural curriculum have shifted to a more holistic study of music and humanities around the globe versus a focus on a singular culture, and to address current issues including racial equity and inclusion.
In January 2020, our Board of Trustees adopted new mission and vision statements to reflect an evolutionary shift in our organization – one where our focus is less on “providing exceptional concert opportunities”, and more on fostering personal growth, musical enrichment, and performance opportunities for boys from all over our region, to the end that they develop musical and life skills such as creativity, resilience, confidence, empathy, communication, and teamwork.
The Boychoir continues to reach boys from all over the Greater Cincinnati Region, and Boychoir alumni have gone on to sing with the Vienna Boychoir, the American Boychoir School, and have earned a total of seven GRAMMY Award nominations.