Sunday, March 14, 2004

Fine Arts Fund Spotlight: Cincinnati Boychoir

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Without the Fine Arts Fund, the world-renowned Cincinnati Boychoir might have to skip its tours, recordings, paying its staff or performing some of the many singing engagements that have put it on the map. The Boychoir received $6,000 last year.

"The Cincinnati Boychoir is happy to receive support from the Fine Arts Fund in the amount of 3 percent of its annual operating budget," says Randall Wolfe, Boychoir director.

Founded in 1965, Cincinnati Boychoir usually performs 35 concerts annually. Its high-voiced veterans have sung before Reds and Bengals games, at the symphony and in Europe's famous concert halls.

Three years ago, two of Wolfe's singers left for Vienna, to join the Vienna Boys Choir - a feat accomplished by only one other American in 500 years. Now, the choir has sent two more boys to Vienna, in an unprecedented partnership with the world's finest boy choir. .

Cincinnati Boychoir has a board, a host of parent volunteers, a small staff and a "shoestring budget" of about $200,000 (the norm for most boy choirs is $600,000-$700,000).

It has high standards, and its members trade after-school soccer games and TV for choir practice twice a week. Yet it continues to grow in popularity. In 1998, organizers purchased their first permanent home, in Norwood, to accommodate the increased rehearsals, uniforms, offices and a music library.

This year's budget (about $235,000) includes a tour to California, to appear on The Hour of Power television show at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., (March 28) and to Hawaii, to perform Carmina Burana with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (April 2 and 4).

At home, the choir sells out its concerts. This weekend, the choir sang the world premiere of Antarctica, a work written for the choir by Nashville composer Carlton Young.

Cincinnati Boychoir next appears on the Twilight Concert Series, St. John United Church of Christ, Newport, 7 p.m. April 18. (It's free. 396-7664.)

The 2004 Fine Arts Fund campaign continues through April 30 with a goal of $10.3 million. The 55th annual campaign provides operating funds to members: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Arts Center, May Festival and Taft Museum of Art as well as smaller grants to associate members and project grants to small Tristate arts organizations. The Enquirer will be highlighting recipient organizations during the 10 weeks of the campaign.


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