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Berkshire Children’s Chorus announces next artistic director

After a year bereft of singing, the 30-year-old children’s chorus will reopen in September under the direction of Ryan LaBoy.

When the Berkshire Children’s Chorus reconvenes to sing this September, we will be launching under the baton of a new artistic director, Ryan LaBoy, a children’s chorus conductor with degrees in Choral Conducting and Music Education from the University of Minnesota and Westminster Choir College, respectively.

We are excited to welcome Ryan and begin a new chapter of our organization’s history, and we invite young singers in grades 4–9 to join us as we reconnect to Chorus traditions, build new ones, and celebrate our 30th season of singing.

Ryan LaBoy is the new artistic director of Berkshire Children’s Chorus. Photo courtesy the Chorus

The Board of Trustees hired Ryan after a competitive five-month search process, during which he impressed us with his credentials as well as his creativity, curiosity, and ability to connect with students. When we asked him to teach a workshop with some of our Chorus members over Zoom, they gave him glowing reviews.

Ryan’s description of his own “life-changing experience” in a summer choral camp as a young person and his understanding of the social and musical value of singing together resonated for us, and this year we plan to put a focus on community-building within the Chorus by offering opportunities for fellowship in and beyond rehearsals and performances.

Ryan comes to the Berkshires from the Twin Cities, where he was the founding musical director of CoMUSICation, an after-school youth program offering high-quality choral music programming to disadvantaged youth in St. Paul. He and his husband Joel Bergeland moved to Pittsfield this spring when Joel was called as pastor at Zion Lutheran Church.

We are introducing Ryan to our Berkshire community through a series of free events, open to all community members who want to learn more about the Chorus. The first was an ice cream social sponsored by SoCo Creamery on June 26. The next event will be a kickball game and hot dog cookout on Saturday, July 24 from 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at French Park in Egremont.

The Chorus is currently accepting registrations for students who will be in grades 4–9 in September, but all interested families and community members are encouraged to attend our events. RSVPs are requested, but not required. To RSVP for an event, or to schedule a simple audition and register your child for the Chorus, write to Ryan directly at ryan@berkshirechildrenschorus.org.

As a member of the Board of Trustees and an alumna of the Chorus myself, I am looking forward to this coming season for so many reasons, but one of them is that I think this pandemic-enforced break from singing has given us perspective on what we are really offering and why the Chorus matters. I know my own voice and confidence grew thanks to my experience in the Chorus, and I can name dozens of other young people — spanning several decades in age — who have also had their horizons widened, their musical experience enriched, and sometimes their careers started because of their time in the Chorus. As we open a new chapter of our history, I am looking forward to bringing the mission and values that guide the Berkshire Children’s Chorus together with Ryan’s new energy and vision. Combined, I know that the Berkshire Children’s Chorus will be able to bring people together through music for many years to come.

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