Catching fire as a singer

Welcome to all new Ragazzi families! I enjoyed having a chance to greet you earlier this week. At your new parent orientation meeting, I shared some insights from the boys in Concert Group, our top-level group for unchanged voices. As faculty and staff, we can tell you how great we think our program is and how valuable it is to a boy’s education, but it is more powerful to hear what the boys themselves and their parents say. Here are two stories, one from a brand new Concert Group boy’s point of view, and one from the parent of a high school senior in the Young Men’s Ensemble, looking back.

Our first-year Concert Group boy recounts “When I first came to Ragazzi, I didn’t have any friends, I lacked passion for the theory program, and I hated my own voice. Now, almost six years since I first set foot in St. Peter’s I have become everything I thought I would never be able to achieve. I thought I would never perform for a movie showcase, and yet we performed for Lord of the Rings this past year. I thought I would never meet anyone musically famous, but I shook hands with Mr. Bill O’Neill, of the San Francisco Opera during camp. I thought I would never meet anyone as eager to learn more about music than myself. But that all changed when I joined Ragazzi and met all these amazing people. You see, in Ragazzi you get to do things and meet people you would never have dreamed of. Through this, I have learned that Ragazzi is not just a boys’ chorus. It is a community of people who want to become better singers and [better] people overall.”

The parent of a high school senior, a member of Young Men’s Ensemble recalls “You and the Ragazzi organization have changed the course of the lives or our boys. It was the perfect place to land for a child who, when given a blank t-shirt in 3rd grade, when all of the rest of the boys in the class turned their t-shirts into sports jerseys (because the assignment was to turn it into something that represented what you wanted to be when you grew up) – and our son decorated his with musical notes because he was going to grow up to be John Williams. He knew the name of every piece of construction equipment and every kind of fire engine, but when the firefighters would ask whether he was going to grow up to be a firefighter he would always surprise him by saying that no, he was going to be a musician.”

These boys are both enthusiastic choristers who come to rehearsal eager to do the work needed to learn and perform at a very high level. Their reward for the hard work they do is the joy they experience – in their mastery and in sharing their art with their audiences.

Ragazzi is a place to make friends and to grow musically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and in many, many other ways. New parents: we look forward to shaping and sharing your son’s personal and musical journey.

—Joyce Keil, founder of Ragazzi


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