Don't snub this Boys Choir 

A writer's reflection of his choirboy past and present struggles to accept the BC Boys Choir

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Yes, the rumours are true: The Britsh Columbia Boys Choir is performing this weekend.

They'll sing holiday songs y'see. Anyone who has any emotional ties to Christmas will enjoy at least two of the songs they will sing. You know that scene in Home Alone when Kevin McAllistar is fleeing the church while the choir flares up in an exquisite version of "O Holy Night"?

Yeah. It'll be like that because there is no greater tearjerker than four-part harmonies executed in perfect pitch. The crescendos swell and crash as all those voices echo and bounce around the venue.

I know what you're thinking. And to be honest, I wasn't entirely keen on writing the story despite the fact that I happened to have been a choirboy at one time.

In my final two years of high school, I sang as part of the St. Patrick's High School concert and chamber choirs. In 1999, our school was the first Canadian school ever to be invited to the prestigious Festival of Gold choral competition in Washington, D.C.

It was a great source of pride for our small inner city Catholic school and earned us profiles in the major daily newspapers. A documentary, Spirit Alive — named after a song Araujo had written and made us sing over and over — was later made about us.

The film focused on our conductor, Tony Araujo, who later won the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. As an English teacher, he was instrumental in my early development as a writer. As a musical role model, he offered to me a whole new perspective that was desperately needed at a time when I was drowning in pools of nu-metal sludge.

But ten years later, sitting in an editorial staff meeting, I wasn't thinking about any of this. But when my interview with Ghostface Killah fell through, I was faced with a gaping hole in this here music section. So, with my pride withered and prune-ish, I started on this BC Boys Choir story, wondering how I was going to make it interesting...

...only to discover that Araujo, my former choir director, was the artistic director of the very choir I was writing about. Ah! I've lately been nostalgic for the final fleeting years of my teens and so I spent about 20 minutes staring into the effervescent glow of my computer screen, thinking about all the old choir days. Araujo yelling at us, gesticulating wildly, the flaming pits of passion reflected in his eyes, as he demanded perfection from every single one of us.

We'd spend hours at times, repeating over and over the same four bars of music until we had it just right. It was hell sometimes but once concert day came, we knew we'd done well when half the eyeballs in the room were leaking salty fluids.


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