At the venerable St. Thomas Boys Choir, where Bach once drilled pupils in their scales, leaders have redoubled recruitment efforts and taken in boys at a younger age to make sure the choir has a full stock of voices ranging from the deepest bass to the most clarion-pure soprano. Children whose voices are deepening wait out the change by working the ticket booth.
The cause of the shift remains unclear. But some choir leaders say it is having a subtle effect on their music, and it’s not just that they have to buy more acne medication. The younger the boy, the less life experience and maturity underpins the complex emotions in what they sing, even if they’re more willing to study their scores instead of pining about romance.
“We have only a short time, from age 9 until 12, to squeeze in all the musical training for the boys,” said Stefan Altner, manager of the St. Thomas Boys Choir and once one of its singers. When he started working at the choir in 1993, most voices broke when boys were 14 or 15, he said. Now the average is closer to 13.
When Johann Sebastian Bach led the St. Thomas Boys Choir in the 1700s, the average age for voice change was 17 to 18. Even then, the search for a lasting golden voice led to drastic measures that would never be considered today. Read more at the Washington Post. Link -via Breakfast Links
(Image credit: Jan Woitas/ZB)