Joyce Keil, Artistic Director and Founder of Ragazzi Boys Chorus, will be stepping down at the end of this season, after 33 years of music making with them. She says both she and the board knew that the right time would arise, and with an active board, new faculty, and Artistic Director-designate Kent Jue, “it’s a good time to let someone else take over.” This weekend, they’ll have holiday concerts in Palo Alto and San Francisco, and next weekend, in Burlingame.
There’s more information at the Ragazzi Boys Chorus website.
She says they began with just a handful of singers. “We had seven boys. And it just grew. We had 35 by the first six months, and the next year we had 75. We held at 75-80 for many years, and then the last couple of years, we’ve had 250-275.” The singers range from kindergarten age through primary and intermediary, ‘Avanti’ young performers, a treble chorus, and 45 high schoolers. “It was really a passion, to give boys an artistic outlet and emotional intelligence. They love the quiet meditative music, which is amazing to people. They think, oh yeah, boys – teach them about trains and cowboys, and guns, and it’s not true.” They also benefit, she says, from bonds made while singing. “Their friendships, which I didn’t think of that as a goal, but it’s a side benefit. My alums are saying ‘We’ve been friends for 20 years.’ So it’s fabulous. It’s a wonderful thing for boys. And I’m so glad there are many many boys choirs here in the Bay Area. The more boys singing, the better.” The holiday concerts will feature music from around the world. “We’re calling it Celebrations of the Season: Our Immigrant Heritage. And I’m focusing on Polish, and Chinese, and Mexican, and Italian… And then we always do our concerts with our Avanti group and our young men’s ensemble. So they’re bringing in some more traditional holiday music.”