Come to one of our fall Open Houses!
Keystone State Boychoir – Download flyer with locations and times.
- Thursday, September 21
- Thursday, September 28
- Saturday, September 23
If you were not at the “KSB Remembers the Holocaust” Concert last night, you missed something very profound. We hope to do it again next year, so don’t miss it! The days when we have the honor of being in the presence of survivors are numbered. Your sons’ children will not have the opportunity to meet someone who endured the unthinkable.
I want to share something that happened after the performance. Following the concert, the boys got a priceless opportunity to sit at round tables and get to know one of our 11 new friends, all “hero” survivors. I was a table with Manya Frydman Perel – and she stole my heart. She was born in Poland in 1924 and was sent to live in the Radom ghetto, and then subsequently five different concentration camps – the last being Auschwitz. In 1945 she was on a death march from Auschwitz when she and a friend escaped into the woods. They were later found by Russian soldiers.
Manya told the boys at the table and I that 80 years later, she still has trouble sleeping because of nightmares. When she was rescued, she was a skeleton, but could not swallow, and therefore still could not eat right away. She said to this day, she saves a “little bit of bread” on her dinner plate and freezes it, fearful that one day she may not have food to eat again.
When the boys left, Manya took my hands in hers, and proceeded to sing “Ani’Ma Amin,” a song she remembered singing in Auschwitz. Its significance in the history of the Jewish people, and especially during the Holocaust, is deeply moving, haunting, and ultimately hopeful. The boys sang a simple but stunning arrangement of it last night as part of the program. Mayna told me the boys made her so happy when they sang it that she will be, in her words, “happy now until the day I die.” May that not be anytime soon!
Along with remembering the Holocaust, we should also remember the power of KSB to bring healing and happiness to people – including people who have endured the worst of human behavior. Be proud KSB parents and boys that we represent the very best of what humankind can do in the world. And so, all of the rehearsing, travelling, trouble is indeed worth it. How do we know. We know because of Manya. Take a moment and contemplate her life, and her words: “happy now until the day I die.”
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That is how the light gets in
With minimal wifi, we will have to wait until we get home to see the rest of Laurie’s pictures.
Back in Helsinki after our third and final overnight ferry, with our final concert on Sunday night, and the end of tour.
St. Petersburg left a huge impression on all of us such that everyone is struggling to come up with words to express what we just experienced. From the Winter Palace to the Cathedral on Spilled Blood to the Hermitage, it’s just so much larger than life.
We saw the city from the top of St Isaac Cathedral, from the water, and from walking between our various destinations. The scale of the city certainly reflects the dreams of the Russian Imperial family, especially Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, as we learned from various tour guides.
The Hermitage is a pretty good representation of the scale of St Petersburg, and the grandeur we experienced. To start with, it’s by far the largest museum in the world, with over 3 million objects in the collection. Add to that, one of the buildings is the Winter Palace, which has 1,057 rooms. One of the Ceremonial Halls that we saw was so big that boys decided the they could have played soccer in there when the weather was bad, and would have room to spare. And then there’s the chapel. So much gold…
Throughout, we’ve enjoyed our connections with Russians. Remember the response of the audience to the post-concert South African sing, where they sang back to us? That happened on Friday, too, in a most unexpected way. We had gathered on one of the bridges to head for some shopping at an open air market near the Cathedral on Spilled Blood. The bridge is a natural destination for wedding photos, with the cathedral in the background. As the photographer captured the bride and groom’s special day, Mr Fisher called the boys to standing order, and started Shumeyela, and the bride and groom started dancing, clearly loving the serenade for their photo session. Then the grads surrounded another couple and sang “In the Still of the Night”. As the boys started walking away, the groom, the bride and a couple of their friends broke into song themselves, a beautiful song in that incredible Russian harmony. We returned the gesture, and the grads sang Salvation is Created, in Russian. Cheers back and forth, with good wishes for the bride and groom, and for our safe travels.
Final view of the port of St Petersburg, with a vestige of Soviet days – Wiley pointed out the sign that reads Leningrad in Russian
CY singers enjoyed a complete breakfast and energetic morning rehearsal with Dr. Rollo Dilworth. They began thoughtful work on the world premiere piece, “Old Joe Clark” commissioned by the festival and penned by Dr. Dilworth. Singers also worked with Dr. Dilworth on his arrangement of “Great Camp Meeting.” He provided our singers many wonderful words and images today, one notable phrase, “Stay in the music with your eyes.” Other memorable rehearsal moments included pairing with other choir members to decide marcato, staccato, and legato articulations in a Handel aria, refining registration changes in a favorite song, “Children of Light,” and building stylistic elements of the Appalachian repertoire.
Performing as a solo ensemble will surely go down as a highlight of this trip. CY singers received ample praise (a standing ovation!) for their solo sharing—more than 300 audience members were in attendance. Our singers performed with poise, confidence, and represented CY and PA beautifully. We thank our families for their amazing young people!
The evening rehearsal was transformative as several well-known bluegrass musicians collaborated with the mass choir. They led the children in songs, discussed the cultural riches of West Virginia, and roots of bluegrass music, such as coal mining songs. Singers responded with boundless joy to the mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bass. At the end of the evening, the band shared more solo songs which singers quickly learned, one particularly enjoyable tune about a worm (ask your singer when s/he gets home!). At the end of the evening, musicians answered questions about songwriting, composing, and gave advice for those interested in pursuing their music further.
Singers continued to build a strong community today – the richness of music was ever-present. Tomorrow, singers will enjoy a morning rehearsal, and the arts fair, a bit of leisure time together, and a square dance! We look forward to what is to come.
As predicted, there are days where the wifi is not very robust, or we’re travelling, or there are May Poles to be raised, or all three.
Hope you’re enjoying all the posts on social media!
Thursday, June 23, 2016
After another morning rehearsal on our last full day in Stockholm, the boys toured Stockholm City Hall! We had excellent tour guides, and got to see the room where Nobel Prize winners have their luncheon! We even learned a trick, how the Nobel Prize winners walk down the staircase so elegantly! (hint: look at the star!)
After the Tour, some of the Grads went shopping at a real Swedish department store while everyone else enjoyed glass (ice cream!) on the waterfront, before returning for a final rehearsal and performance at Kungsholms Church with our hosts, Stockholms Gosskör.
The performance that night was packed! No room for the boys to sit! Immanuel, who is our accompanist for this tour, gets to sing sometimes, too, and rocked the Chichester solo. Of course everyone joined in for Shumayela!
Friday, June 24, 2016 – Off to Rättvik!
A little rain didn’t dampen our farewells to our friends in Stockholm, as we said so long for now, in hope of continued friendship between our choirs. On our way to our next destination, Rättvik. On the way, a stop to see the Dala Horse, the traditional wooden toy of this region, now an iconic representation of both Dalarna and of Sweden.
Riding in a double decker bus with luggage trailer, the four hour ride went by quickly, and the boys arrived in Rättvik, a town of about 10,000 people on the shores of Lake Siljan. It’s a perfect place to spend Midsommar, the biggest holiday of the Swedish year other than Christmas. We’re staying at Stiftsgarden, a retreat center and hotel on the lake. Their claim to fame (beyond being boychoir tour heaven) is that Desmond Tutu stayed here while working with the Church of Sweden and the Swedish government during the struggles to end Apartheid)
And it really is boychoir tour heaven, with great food, nice dorms, and plenty of room to run and have fun!
Glad Midsommar! (In Swedish — Happy Midsummer!)
“So grads, you know how in the US, wearing flowers in your hair is something girls generally do? Well in Sweden, guys wear flowers too. Follow me to pick flowers, and then we’ll make wreaths out of them.”
pause. hold my breath.
“Cool! Where are the flowers?”
Gotta love these guys, far from home, jumping happily into the local tradition, and in no time, flowers woven into wreaths, maypole raised, and KSB clumsily but happily learn several traditional Swedish Midsommar dances.
Midsommar continued with the holiday meal, followed by the Rättvik Midsommar Parade, complete with horse pulled wagons filled with locals in their traditional Swedish attire, marching violinists, and hundreds of people, clearly going somewhere together. It’s another Majstångresning (Maypole Raising – yes, it’s June. Not quite sure what the deal is with that), so we join the parade and watch the raising of a 40’ maypole, then another round of dancing, less clumsy this time since they’re the same dances that we learned earlier.
Midsommar concluded with a concert in the church where we sing on Saturday, plus some more dancing — this time “Cotton-eyed Joe” and “The Electric Slide” on the Stiftsgarden pier — plus late night grilled hotdogs, and an a cappella Baba Yetu for those gathered for an evening prayer service, around 11:00pm, still plenty of daylight.
Though it doesn’t get all the way dark, with about four hours of twilight until sunrise comes again, no one had any trouble falling asleep!
Saturday, June 25
It’s Saturday afternoon now, the grads are having their afternoon rehearsal and the trebles are on break. This morning, the traditional church boats arrived, once the only way that residents of the various villages around the lake got to church. We joined the service for one piece, in hope to spread the word for tonight’s concert. With 700 people in attendance, we’re looking forward to a good audience tonight!
It’s another perfect summer day in Stockholm, low 70ºs during the day, cool enough for another layer after dark, which happens for a minute around midnight! Hard to believe we are already on our last day in this beautiful city. The boys have gathered for the morning at the rehearsal home of Stockholm Gosskör, to be followed by a tour of City Hall to see where the Nobel Prize winners have their banquet every December. Tonight will be the final concert here, a sharing with Stockholm Gosskör.
Wednesday started with a musical treat for KSB and several members of our host choir: a morning workshop with Katarina Henryson and Morten Vinther of The Real Group, the Swedish equivalent of The Pentatonix.
After rehearsal the boys visited the salvaged Swedish warship, Vasa, expected to be its era’s greatest warship, except it sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, and remained at the bottom of the Stockholm harbor until 1959. To preserve the ship, the museum is pretty dark, so here are some guys enjoying a picnic lunch in the park outside the museum! Click here if you are interested in more about the Vasa
Wednesday wrapped up with a concert at the Anglican church, with the typical KSB encore – Shumeyela and Shosholoza. The choir is sounding great!
I’m on my way to make final preparations for our next stop, Rättvik, where boys will enjoy, Midsommar, one of the biggest holidays in the Swedish year. Everyone is happy and well, with jet lag behind us and a weekend of outdoor fun ahead of us!
Greetings from Stockholm, Sweden!
Put yourself back on Saturday night in Verizon Hall, with the thrill of Fitz’s Concert Mass, the joyful end of Praise His Holy Name, the peak of this incredible 2015-16 season. Take all of that and use it to fill the sails of this concert tour, and you get an idea of how everything is going in Stockholm!
Despite everyone being kind of bleary eyed on Sunday, the excitement from the Gala Concert was in the air from the moment we were back together again, and got us through the long travel day. We arrived in Stockholm yesterday afternoon, and reunited with Stockholm Gosskör, who had visited us a year ago on their tour to the US. Boys report that they’ve got terrific homestays.
Our first full day in Stockholm started with a morning rehearsal then the first performance of the tour – a lunch time concert. We’ve done some sightSINGing, and are now heading to an afternoon rehearsal, after which, the boys will be back to their homestays, who have just started their summer vacation.
Luggage lined up and ready to go!
Some of the guys with their homestay families. It’s especially fun since this is a return visit and we know each other already!
…while he deals with a tie emergency at Boyds
Nice place. Is it new?
I thought Macy’s is where you go for ties.
Perhaps more of a non profit kinda tie place.
If you’re a track and field guy, you should know that the University of Oregon in Eugene is where Nike began. Also, the University of Oregon is the sight of the Olympic trials every four years. Today, Nike headquarters is in Beaverton, Oregon, which is between Portland (where we fly into) and Eugene (two hours south of Portland). So my hope is that part of the PICFest adventure will be a way cool Nike “tour.”