Founded in 1987 by current Artistic Director Frank Cimino with just 14 boys, the mission of The Maryland State Boychoir has remained clear: to foster the boychoir tradition by offering talented boys opportunities to sing and build self-esteem, self discipline and character. Twenty-five years later, the Boychoir still embraces that goal.
Today, The Maryland State Boychoir (MSB), Maryland’s “Official Goodwill Ambassadors,” is comprised of approximately 150 choristers, ages 7 to 20, who represent a wide range of ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. They come from nine Maryland counties, Baltimore City, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The Maryland State Boychoir is a diverse group of talented boys who love to sing. Qualified applicants are accepted regardless of their families’ financial means and are not discriminated against on any basis. Prior musical training is not expected, but an audition is required. Auditions are held twice yearly for potential members who are not required to have prior music training. A qualified applicant is any boy who loves to sing, is committed to the organization, and can sing with a pleasant and in tune voice.
Not only do choristers receive training in voice lessons and music theory, they also develop friendships with boys from varied backgrounds, build self-esteem and self-discipline through hard work and dedication, and develop a sense of community through their commitment to the organization.
What we do
The MSB performs over 60 times each year. They have performed throughout Maryland, in surrounding states, and on tours that have taken them to Ireland, Wales, England, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Canada, and more than thirty states in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest regions of the U.S. Throughout the state of Maryland, the MSB has performed at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the United States Naval Academy Chapel, the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the Lyric Opera House, the State House, the Governor’s Mansion, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and Loyola College. Throughout the U.S., the MSB has performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center, the PGA President’s Cup, the National Cathedral in Washington DC, St. Patrick’s and Holy Trinity Cathedrals in New York, Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Capitol University in Ohio, and The University of Central Arkansas.
The Maryland State Boychoir hosts the Baltimore Boychoir Festival, now in its 13th year, which brings together boys and young men from across the country to strengthen their choral skills, deepen their sense of community, and celebrate their art. In 2002, the MSB launched a Goodwill Ambassador program in which choristers visit schools representing different socioeconomic levels, retirement communities, and other areas of special public interest, and are taught about diversity and the power music has to overcome differences. The Boychoir also conducts a mandatory, week-long summer camp for members at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In addition to music making at camp, the boys participate in a well-rounded program of games, crafts, and sports. A similar camp is held for three days in the winter. Finally, the MSB schedules teen and choirboy nights throughout the year for members to play basketball, have pizza, go on outings, and bond as choristers.
In addition to training young men to sing, The Maryland State Boychoir is committed to fostering the boychoir tradition.
The MSB hosts the annual Baltimore Boychoir Festival to bring together and feature some of America’s most outstanding boychoirs, directors of the MSB serve on national boychoir and choral leadership committees, and the MSB shares resources with boychoirs and Directors from across the country.
The choir’s reputation for excellence has resulted in invitations to perform in a variety of venues such as The White House, The Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., St. Patrick’s and Holy Trinity Cathedrals in New York, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Ireland, and Coventry Cathedral in England. The MSB has performed throughout Maryland, in surrounding states, and on tours locally, nationally, and internationally. The choir also performed a private concert for the Swiss Ambassador to the U.S.
The choir has produced five recordings: Brothers (2006), Remember Me (2001), What Sweeter Music (1998), The Maryland State Boychoir—Live in Performance (1997), and An Die Musik (1994). They have been featured on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street,” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and on Maryland Public Television. In addition, their Christmas CD, What Sweeter Music, was broadcast nationally on National Family Radio.
In the tradition of English boychoir schools, the MSB teaches vocal technique, music theory, and choral singing. The organization is divided into five choirs: Resident Training Choir, Treble Choir, Concert Choir, Tour Choir, and Changed Voice Choir. They perform a broad repertoire, from traditional Renaissance to contemporary gospel, in more than 60 concerts each season.
After passing an initial audition, choristers begin training which follows the scheme established by The Royal School of Church Music. Herein, the boys are introduced to all aspects of musicianship and professional ensemble performance. Through a series of graded tests, the young singer progresses in theory and vocal training through the stages of Junior Choirboy and Senior Choirboy to Full Chorister. Each level of achievement is recognized by a different colored ribbon upon which the chorister’s medal is hung and worn during performances.
The five distinct groups are:
The Resident Training Choir: A boy can enter this apprenticeship group with little or no knowledge of singing. During a semester of training (5 months), these Probationers develop fine singing voices and the ability to read music at sight. During their semester in Resident Choir, most boys develop the musical knowledge and skills as well as the performance maturity to advance to the next level, Treble Choir.
The Treble Choir: This program enables boys to continue to build upon skills learned in Training Choir, while slowly being introduced to a professional performance schedule. The Treble Choir performs combined selections with the Concert Choir and Tour Choir at major events throughout the season. Likewise, boys in Treble Choir begin learning a repertoire of music which is suited for their level of proficiency.
The Concert Choir: While continuing their training in voice and sight-singing, boys in Concert Choir are given the opportunity to sing a professional repertoire in public performance. The Concert Choir is the largest group in our five choir program. Choristers who continue to develop their musical skills and demonstrate further maturity and responsibility as performers may audition for membership in the Tour Choir.
The Tour Choir: The most advanced and skilled choristers enter the Tour Choir. These boys learn a very challenging repertoire, often with limited rehearsal time. The Tour Choir usually consists of a maximum of 20 unchanged voices (trebles and altos) and 15 changed voices (tenors and basses). Any Concert Choir member may audition for Tour Choir, but those hoping for membership must possess outstanding sight-singing skills, have demonstrated a high level of self-motivated learning and self-discipline, and achieve scholastic success.
The Changed Voice Choir: In order to continue to meet the needs of an ever growing number of teenage members, an additional program exists solely for changed voices. These members are drawn from changed voices in Concert Choir and Tour Choir, and rehearse in addition to their regular schedules. This group presents lighter (and serious) music intended to challenge the musicianship of teenage boys.
The Maryland State Boychoir also has an Alumni Choir, composed of alumni choristers who occasionally perform with the other choirs or on their own.