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American Boychoir ends SUNY Potsdam residency on a high note

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POTSDAM — Let’s hear it for the boys.

Giving a taste of what’s to come, the visiting American Boychoir put on a performance for students and community members Friday afternoon in SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall.

Students from the American Boychoir School in Princeton, N.J., are visiting as a part of the college’s second annual Lougheed Festival of the Arts.

During a residency which started Wednesday and will conclude with the performance of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” tonight, the 49-member choir received several standing ovations Friday afternoon as it shared some of what it has learned here.

SUNY Potsdam spokeswoman Alexandra M. Jacobs said while the boys were visiting, they participated in workshops with professors from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, Clarkson and other universities.

“They have been working on lessons like voice technique with Crane professors,” Ms. Jacobs said. “So they are getting some enriching programming while they are here.”

The boys are also major performers in Britten’s monumental work, “War Requiem.”

They have been working on their part with visiting conductor Christof Perick, visiting soloists, the Crane Chorus and the Crane Symphony Orchestra.

“So for our students who are in the orchestra and the chorus it is an experience,” Ms. Jacobs said. “They are performing a work that you can see on major stages around the world and it allows them the chance to work with a major conductor.”

Crane School Dean Michael R. Sitton said the focal point of the American Boychoir’s visit is its performance in Britten’s work; however, it’s been a bonus for the school to have the boys participating in workshops with students.

“They have had some presentations given to them because they are in school themselves,” Mr. Sitton said. “So they are learning new things. So this has really been a wonderful, multifaceted experience for both our students and for the boychoir.”

American Boychoir Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz even participated in a workshop on working with changing voices, Mr. Sitton said, as Crane students will become teachers who work with children whose voices will change.

“So those are a couple of the examples that they have done that I have had the opportunity to observe a little bit,” Mr. Sitton said. “Showing this very wide range of style and sound, he offered an example to our students that there is a wide variety of what children can do on in educational setting.”

The choir’s entire visit has been supported by donations.

Former American Boychoir member Chester W. Douglas and his wife Joy A., a 1954 alumni of Crane, have been donors to the program that allowed the American Boychoir to participate in the residency at the campus.

Mrs. Douglas said she took great pride in the fact that her husband took as much an interest in the school and the program to contribute.

“We really met through choral music and Chet has always respected where I went to school and said he wanted to do something for the school,” Mrs. Douglas said. “ I appreciate the fact that he has joined me in doing that.”

“The choral art is very, very strong historically in the Crane School,” Mr. Douglas said. “Joy, when she was here as a student, sang with Robert Shaw, who came every year.”

The American Boychoir will be participating in Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. today at Hosmer Hall.

The concert is free and open to the public.

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