Students and teachers have adapted (and adapted some more) over the past two years. One course that was especially tricky due to Covid-19 is choral music. Choir Program Director Kirk Douglas has been at Boulder Creek High School for 13 years and is on the forefront of planning for safety and success, navigating the constantly evolving recommendations.
“Early in the pandemic we worked on technique via Zoom, then we sang in small groups, moving from different spaces in our performing arts building to let the air turn over. We have performed in masks, we moved concerts outdoors, we have limited audiences,” he said. “But we never stopped singing.”
Douglas is also the current Arizona Choral Educators President, and is passionate about choral music as part of the development of well-rounded student leaders, and as an important part of the community at Boulder Creek and beyond.
“It’s a great bunch of students every year, but our enrollment numbers are down a bit because not everyone is ready to jump through the hoops to sing with all the restrictions,” Douglas said.
One of the ensembles that didn’t survive the pandemic was the Men’s Chorus at Boulder Creek. In the 2020-21 school year the choir shrunk to 12 guys. So for this school year it’s been combined with a beginning women’s choir at BCHS.
“I loved ending my school day with Men’s Chorus,” Douglas said. “There’s just a different energy and goofiness and raw talent in that group. I miss it.”
Sing With the Bros
That’s where the idea for Bros Chorus emerged. Douglas put out the call on social media and waited to see who would turn up at the first rehearsal.
“I am having fun spending time with my son and meeting new friends,” said Mark Andersen who sang alongside his son, (a baritone) Brian, who is a sophomore. It’s the first time since college the older Andersen has been involved with a choir.
“Even though I have sung in choir before, I am learning a lot and enjoying the challenge,” he said.
“Bros Chorus is for anyone. We have grandparents, little brothers and plenty of dads joining the boys in our choir program,” Douglas said. “A few recent Boulder Creek graduates also came to the rehearsal.”
“I saw all these dads and grandpas and brothers and just all of them coming into this choir,” said sophomore Brandon Thompson (a bass). He’s in two choirs at BCHS and opted to join the Bros Chorus. “It’s a great experience that should be continued and more men should join,” Thompson added. “Even if you think you can’t sing, you can. And it’s just a great experience I think everyone should try.”
For now, the “Bros” rehearse in the evenings once a week. So far, they are about 40-strong and it’s a short-term run. The Bros Chorus will have just three rehearsals before their debut at the upcoming March choir performances at the school.
“I was impressed with how quickly they picked up the songs in our first rehearsal,” Douglas said.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Douglas recently led 96 high school students all the way to Boston to perform, workshop and compete for the first time since March 2020.
“This was a very important trip for me, for the kids and for Boulder Creek. Our kids have given up a lot, but they teach me everyday about perseverance and positive attitude,” he said.
Douglas worked with the BCHS Administration and the district to meet all safety requirements for such a trip. He communicated with health officials in Massachusetts to be sure there wouldn’t be any surprises. That hard work and tireless planning paid off. The varsity competition show choirs earned top honors at the Tantasqua Show Choir Spectacular 2022. The mixed (boys and girls together) “Broadway Bound” earned a Gold Medal ranking as well as Best Choreography, Best Vocals, Best Soloist and Grand Champion of their division. The all-women’s show choir, “Heart and Soul” dazzled with their Cruella-inspired set, tying for second place in the single gender division.
You can catch “the Bros,” Heart & Soul, Broadway Bound and the Superior with Distinction rated Honor Choir, Bella Voce and Cantus Novus on stage this month at Boulder Creek.
Boulder Creek Choir Concerts
Boulder Creek High School
March 9 & 10, 7 p.m.
Heart & Soul Boston Performance
Broadway Bound Boston Performance