One published classic view of a boys’ choir is a choir primarily made up of choirboys who have yet to begin puberty or are in the early to middle stages of puberty, and so retain their more highly pitched childhood voice type. Members of a boys’ choir are technically known as trebles and often termed “boy sopranos,” although occasionally some boys sing in the alto range. Some boys’ choirs of churches or cathedrals are further supported by older male voices singing tenor and bass; these singers are sometimes former choirboys.
The above view describes, in part, the St Leonard’s Secondary School 100-voice choir that is a continuing evolving story of excellence and success. Indeed, it is the Ministry of Mr Andrew Lokey, embraced and supported by two retired bankers living in America, who travelled to London and France to see and hear the choir perform. These bankers are not alone in the view that the choir deserves broad support.
Last November, one Sunday afternoon when the 17-year-old 100 Boys’ Choir performed at St Mathias Church, another well-wisher who also lives abroad asked: “Why isn’t this church hall full? This choir deserves larger audiences and greater financial support.”
Truth be told, after returning from England, the two well-wishers and choir fans – one a Barbadian and the other a Trinidadian – have been retelling their experience and commending the choir’s excellence.
“Tell the story but please don’t call our names. It is not about us. We want to remain anonymous. Just get the word out and we will be fine. Those boys were great,” they both explained.
When pressed for details, one of them said: “It’s that it is hard to put the experience in words, but i’ll try. Imagine the Eiffel Tower (on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France) as a backdrop for a performance. The choir assembles and they are testing the acoustics. Here’s an interesting thing that happened. Initially, the crowd is far away, but as the voices of the choir ring out, the crowd draws closer, and starts to surge and applaud. The voices of my little black boys are angelic. I felt very proud. It was the same kind of response they received when they performed at Kings College’s Museum, when a member of the choir sang from a staircase.”
Indeed, the same ‘stairway moment’ occurred last November when a single tenor voice sang two Negro Spirituals from the balcony of the St Mathias Church and surprised patrons.
According to a published source, the choir has been in existence since 2000 starting with around 30 choristers. In 2008, the musical director (Mr Andrew Lokey) embarked on the 100 Boys Choir Programme where the main objectives were to offer a practical avenue for musical expression, to build self-esteem through success in exams and performances, and to continue the rich tradition of chorale singing in boys, which was almost dormant on the island. Since then they have seen a steady increase in boys wanting to join the choir.
Clearly, Mr Lokey and his team appear to be doing more than training male voices. When asked about the trip, the musical director was extremely happy and pleased with the tour and welcomes any support that will complement the goals of the choir.
Walter Edey is an author and retired math and science educator who believes that structural thinking is the wave of the future.