Real men sing!™
The Providence Singers Young Men’s Choral Festival
When did men stop singing in barbershops?
Ask almost any chorus director: “What’s your biggest recruitment challenge?” The almost automatic answer: “Finding enough men who sing, especially tenors.”
That should not be. Choral singing is a wonderfully accessible medium for amateur voices. Plug in at any level; a world of discovery and enrichment opens almost immediately.
Every year since the 2008-09 season, the Providence Singers has organized a day-long choral festival for young men. Led by outstanding choral clinicians — Harvard’s director of choral activities, a Grammy Award-winning conductor — and mentors from college choruses, the group learns good vocal technique, works its way through well-chosen music, and presents a concert at day’s end. There’s plenty of camaraderie, T-shirts, extra-large pizzas, and plain old fun along the way. Choral educators from middle schools and high schools are welcome to join us for professional development opportunities.
The Providence Singers joins with Rhode Island College to present the annual Young Men’s Choral Festival, with mentors and volunteers from Bishop Hendricken High School and Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.
YMCF for 2019: Jamie Hillman, clinician
Jamie Hillman, who led the memorable 2014 session of YMCF — that’s him on the video clip, conducting “Cripple Creek” — returned as clinician in January 2019. He is assistant professor of music at Gordon College, where he conducts the men’s choir and college choir.
Hillman is a tenor soloist who has performed internationally. He’s a pianist who has accompanied a great variety of groups, from the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus to performances by professional soloists. His choral compositions have been performed in Asia, Europe, and North America. He’s a prize-winning choral conductor and a strong advocate for the choral art. When he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting at Boston University, he designed and implemented a choral music program at a medium-high Massachusetts men’s prison. He remains a prison arts scholar at the BU School of Music.
Every year since its inception, the festival has ended — how else? — with a 7 p.m. concert, free and open to the public. Mentors and guest ensembles perform, and YMCF participants present the results of their day’s work. For the January 2019 session, the program included:
- Betelehemu — A Nigerian carol from Babatunde Olatunji, arranged by Wendell Whalum, is sung entirely in Yoruba with percussion. (Listen)
- No Time — A traditional camp meeting song arranged by Susan Brumfield (Listen)
- Cripple Creek — An American folk song arranged by Ken Berg, a great favorite at the 2014 Young Men’s Choral Festival (Listen)