The Raleigh Boychoir wrapped up their 2018-19 season with a beautiful program titled “Dawning of Day”; the concert commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy (also known as D-day), which occurred on June 6, 1944. The program included both music and poetry from various styles and origins but with common themes of hope, reverence, and peace strung everything together. The RBC welcomed special guests from the Houston Boychoir, joining together in Raleigh as part of their spring tour. The Houston Boychoir, helmed by artistic director Carole Nelson, is a comprehensive, tiered program similar to the RBC’s. The HBC’s staff and Jeremy Tucker (the artistic director of our Boychoir) clearly worked well together to produce combined repertoire for a seamless concert experience.

The Houston Boychoir’s tour choir, consisting of Chamber Choir and “Olde Boys” (changed-voice choir), opened the concert with a diverse set. An a cappella arrangement of “The Sweet by and by” unfolded in complexity and tempo with beautiful phrasing. “Hotaru Koi” brought imagery of light in both sight and sound. Following this, a definite highlight was both boychoirs’ young men singing Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11, a technically difficult piece and a departure from the style of the rest of the program, aside from its themes of peace and honor. Between songs, members of the Young Men’s Ensemble read poetry; selections included “Peace” by Sara Teasdale, “For Their Memory” by Major Michael O’Donnell, and “I Honor Them” by Sergeant Frank Wawrynovic. Even based on the titles, these poems were carefully selected to echo the message of the concert.

The Raleigh Boychoir has long cemented its reputation as not just a group of ensembles but also a holistic music education organization that encourages the personal and musical growth of the members. Consistent alumni involvement and scholarship opportunities emphasize RBC’s position in the Triangle community. Towards the end of the program, the 2019 recipient of the RBC Scholarship, Resident Choir member Xander Powers, was recognized, as well as two graduating seniors. Perhaps thanks to Raleigh Boychoir’s influence, these two seniors are looking ahead to degrees in music. In fact, Lamont Taylor, Jr., has already been serving as a Choral Scholar for the Training and Resident Choirs – he conducted their performance of “Kyrie Canon.” After their recognition, Taylor and Benjamin Edwards sang a meditative rendition of “How Can I Keep from Singing” together.

Continuing the clever use of Christ Episcopal Church‘s stage and loft areas, the concert concluded with both choirs positioned in the lofts above the sanctuary, facing one another. Stroope’s arrangement of “Homeland” blossomed with the wide vocal range of the combined choirs, and RBC’s tradition “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” has never sounded better. By the end of the concert, the audience left feeling uplifted, looking behind with reverence but looking forward to an exciting and light-filled future.