Grammy-award winning Pacific Boychoir of Oakland, California, presents Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers), Op. 37 on Friday, May 10, 2013, 8 pm at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. Performed every three years in Oakland and San Francisco, this marks the first time in the Pacific Boychoir’s history that this piece is being performed in Los Angeles, in its entirety, with an all-male choir including boy sopranos and boy altos in outstanding acoustics. The masterpiece was first premiered by a boy’s choir in Moscow in 1915. In 2007, the Pacific Boychoir became the first choir in America to reproduce the original performing forces. Along with Daniel Babcock as tenor soloist, Los Angeles’ finest choral tenors and basses augment the choir.
“The last time we were in Los Angeles was in 2006 where we performed with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in an all-Russian language program at a sold-out Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The Vespers, also in Russian, will be our first full-length concert here and we look forward to engaging Los Angeles choral audiences,” exclaimed Pacific Boychoir Artistic Director Kevin Fox, who has been eager to bring this piece to Los Angeles.
The All-Night Vigil is an a cappella choral composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff; his Op. 37 was written and premiered in 1915. It consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. It has been praised as Rachmaninoff’s finest achievement and “the greatest musical achievement of the Russian Orthodox Church”.
Tickets range from $18 – $28 and may be purchased online at PacificBoychoirAcademy.org or at the venue box office on the night of the concert, if tickets remain. For more information call 510-652-4722. The First Congregational Church of Los Angeles is located at 540 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles 90020.
Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA) was founded in 1998 with six boys and today comprises over 170 boys and young men age 4-18 in seven choirs. The PBA has become known for its rich sound, musicianship, phrasing, and talented soloists. The New York Times said the PBA goes “beyond the reach of most youth choirs” and the Los Angeles Times described the PBA quality of sound and musicianship as “astonishing.”
With the addition of a day school in 2004, the PBA has become the only choir school on America’s West Coast. The choir school integrates a full academic curriculum with daily musical instruction for boys in grades 4-8. The choir school students learn sight reading, music theory and repertoire, as well as Math, English, History, Science, Art, PE, and Languages. The choir school has one of the lowest student:teacher ratios for independent schools in the Bay Area, and is a member of the East Bay Independent Schools Association (EBISA).
The PBA has appeared frequently with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), performing under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, Kurt Masur, Robert Spano, David Robertson, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Herbert Blomstedt, and Vance George, performing works by Britten, Orff, Wagner, Mahler, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Berlioz. Along with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the PBA recorded Mahler’s Third Symphony with the SFS, awarded the Grammy for Best Classical Album in February 2004. In January 2010, the SFS recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, featuring the SF Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and the PBA, was awarded Grammys for Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album.
The PBA has also sung with the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, the UC Davis Orchestra, the American Bach Soloists, the San Francisco Opera, Trinity Lyric Opera, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the National Symphony Orchestra of Brasil, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, the Harvard Men’s Glee Club, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Drakensberg Boys Choir, the Boni Pueri Czech Boys Choir, Denmark’s Herning Boys Choir, the choirs of UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the American Boychoir, and the Santa Clara Chorale.
The PBA has performed at venues such as Davies Symphony Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, Basilica San Marco in Venice, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Teatro Polyteama in Jundiai Brasil, Dvorak Hall in Prague, Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center in California, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Chartres Cathedral, Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg, Sala São Paulo, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Zellerbach Hall, Yoshi’s Oakland, on Public Radio International (PRI), on Danish National Radio, at Grace Cathedral, at professional sporting events, and also has several self-produced concerts annually. In 2007, the PBA presented the first performances of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (originally written for boy’s choir) by an American boy’s choir.
The PBA has toured throughout the USA and to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, South Africa, China, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia. The PBA’s recordings include Cantate, a recording of Early Music written for boys’ voices, a recording of Christmas music by Benjamin Britten, a recording of two of Bach’s “Lutheran” Masses, and That Promised Land, a collection of American spirituals and gospel songs.
Making regular appearances to sing the USA National Anthem (and on occasion the Canadian Anthem), the PBA has sung for the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, Cal Basketball, and Stanford Basketball. The PBA has also performed with comedian Zach Galifianakis, is the voice of the Yahoo! yodel, has sung for the Chabad Telethon, performs dozens of free school performances every year, and published quite possibly the first ever choir tour blog, in July 2001.
In 2011-2012, the PBA performed over 50 times, including appearances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Oakland Ballet, the American Bach Soloists, the Oakland-East Bay Symphony Chorus, Chora Nova, the Herning Boys Choir of Denmark, in the Oakland Holiday Parade, at the Tech Awards in San Jose, and with Paul Simon.
In the 2012-2013 season, the PBA will perform with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Donato Cabrera and Charles Dutoit, the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, the UC Davis Orchestra and Chorus, the National Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, for the Oakland Raiders, for Cal vs Stanford basketball, and will present three performances of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
Kevin Fox, founding artistic director and conductor, has been involved with boys choirs since the age of eight. He holds degrees in Music (with Honors) and Economics from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, where he studied voice with tenor Wayne Rivera, conducting with Mel Strauss, composing with Neely Bruce, and received the Lipsky Prize for outstanding scholarship in choral studies. He studied music at Oxford University, England, with Edward Higginbottom, and choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in Princeton with Jim Jordan and Vincent Metallo. He has served as Proctor for the American Boychoir, working with Jim Litton and Craig Denison, and has sung with the choirs of Trinity Church in New Haven, Trinity Church in Princeton, American Bach Soloists, the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, and the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys in San Francisco, where he also worked as Interim Assistant Choirmaster.
Under his direction, the Pacific Boychoir Academy has grown from six to 150 choristers in four treble choirs and one alumni choir. Working with the PBA staff, Mr. Fox has developed a proprietary music reading and music theory training program comparable to university-level music classes. In 2002, Mr. Fox developed a business plan for the choir school, a comprehensive document compiling the ideas of staff and board members in preparation for the opening of the school in the fall of 2004. In 2010, Mr. Fox accepted the Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance for the PBA’s participation on Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony.
Mr. Fox has been on over 40 tours with boys choirs to almost all 50 states including Alaska and Hawai’i, as well as to Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, and South Africa.