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Giving boys with changing voices the chance to sing

November 27, 2010 |  7:00 am

Singing Think children's choir and an image emerges of rows of bright, young faces and angelic voices raised in song. But what happens when some of those voices start to change?

For years, the Los Angeles Children's Chorus said goodbye to its maturing boys once they strayed outside the traditional treble range. That awkward rite of passage was tough on both the chorus and the choristers -- who faced the prospect of being cut off from a world they loved just as they were facing the difficulties of adolescence. 

Now, however, LACC is among a growing number of choral groups around the country that are trying to retain and support singers whose voices are changing or have changed. Its Young Men's Ensemble, which is beginning its second season, offers what YME director Steven Kronauer describes as the intensive instruction in performance and theory for which the chorus is known “while focusing on the changing voice -- with the priority of ensuring vocal health and singing efficiently without forcing things. We also want to help our guys feel comfortable during an already complicated time in their lives.”

The new ensemble has given new hope to singers such as Andrew Huerta, a 15-year-old bass from Sherman Oaks. "I was so relieved," said Andrew, who had feared he would be asked to leave LACC when his voice began to change three years ago. "I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have the music and these people around me. This was like my second family.”

For the full story please see Sunday's Arts & Books: "Choir eases transition of boys to men."

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Marquis Williams, center, of the Young Men's Ensemble sings during rehearsal at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.