The average public perception of a “boy choir” probably brings to mind an austere scene – musical excellence, sure, but lacking in expression or movement. Indeed, boy choirs were historically created solely for the purpose of singing church music, and even in the 21st century most boy choirs stick to their sacred or at least “traditional choir” roots. The Raleigh Boychoir, led by artistic director Jeremy Tucker, seeks to change that. With their latest program, the RBC still upheld (and perhaps even furthered) their goals of leadership and musical integrity, proving that students can practice good vocal technique and improve music literacy skills while singing “non-traditional” repertoire. The concert, titled “Stage and Screen Hits,” featured a setlist designed by the singers, showcasing more individual personality and expression. In both group choral numbers and solos (which is another departure from “tradition”), the singers were able to show off their acting and movement skills. In the words of Tucker, this program was intended to keep RBC’s singers “challenged and engaged” while trying something new.

The fellowship hall at Edenton Street United Methodist Church was decked out with an extended stage and ensemble microphones, a departure from RBC’s usual lack of amplification. The microphones helped the soloists really “pop” and actually aided the groups’ overall blending. The Performing Choir opened the concert with a humorous performance of “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver, which allowed them to even turn and sing to each other as part of the song’s choreography. The program alternated among ensembles and then solo or duet numbers, such as the combined Resident and Training Choirs (the two youngest ensembles) singing “I Won’t Grow Up” and “Pure Imagination” (also a good contrast stylistically).

Throughout this thoughtfully constructed concert, the Young Men’s Ensemble’s recently elected president and vice president, Charlie Ramquist and Malcolm Vaughn, eased transitions between songs with a running gag about not being able to remember the next song – again uniquely showcasing individual personalities in the RBC. Speaking of the Young Men’s Ensemble, their performances of “Get Me to the Church on Time” (from My Fair Lady), “You Will Be Found” (from Dear Evan Hansen), and selections from Les Miserables with the Performing Choir were some highlights of the concert. The Boychoir’s YME is the largest it has ever been, definitely setting the RBC apart from similar organizations who age out singers after their voices are no longer in the treble range.

To close the concert, all four ensembles came together for a rousing performance of “Seize the Day” from Newsies, showcasing (as always) the well-trained range and blend of the Raleigh Boychoir, with the added energy of dramatic expression and choreography. Perhaps these elements will be in play in their two upcoming concerts, a performance with the ASU Glee Club on March 26 and the season closer, “World Music” on May 30.