Boys Choir of Harlem Debuts at Center for the Arts

Posted: December 7, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

In 1968, 20 boys came to the basement of a Harlem church for their first choir rehearsal. Under the guidance of musical director Walter Turnbull, the choir grew in size and artistry. Today that modest ensemble is 250 members strong and has achieved international acclaim, performing its eclectic repertoire in major concert halls in the United States, as well as in Europe, Israel and Japan, and on two Grammy Award-winning albums. On Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m., the Boys Choir of Harlem will join in exuberant song to usher in the holiday season during the group’s first appearance in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on the Fairfax Campus.

With a blend of classical and modern music, popular songs, spirituals, gospel and jazz—highlighted by choreography and smooth showmanship—the ensemble’s talent reflects the group’s dedication to hard work and discipline.

Many of the young singers (grades 4 through 12) hail from some of the roughest and poorest sections of Harlem. Under the New York school system, the choir has established its own academy, which offers a rigorous education combined with conservatory-quality artistic instruction. Turnbull’s tough-love philosophy has paid off: 98 percent of choir graduates go on to college, expanding their lives far beyond the threshold of their old neighborhoods.

Selections for this concert include “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

A preperformance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the concert on the Grand Tier of the Concert Hall. Tickets are $44, $36, and $22; tickets for children 12 and under are half-price. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit

Write to at