ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mark S. Johnson is used to working with a large group of singers.
It’s part of his job as the executive and artistic director of the Minnesota Boychoir.
He’s always up for the challenge.
“The choir is the oldest of this kind in this area,” he says. “We’re almost 60 years old and we continue to grow.”
The Minnesota Boychoir was founded in 1962 and has a reputation for excellence as it has brought invitations from local and national music conventions among other avenues of performing.
Its four ensembles – Allegro, Cantando, Cantar and Cantabile – are known for their excellent musical offerings, as well as the positive effect participating in the choir has on the lives of its members.
The choir makes an annual trek during the summer for a handful of performances. This summer the choir will perform in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
There will be 58 singers in two different choirs – Cantabile and Allegro – on this tour.
“It’s a learning opportunity for all of the boys,” Johnson says. “It’s important to get them out on the road and let them see what it’s like to be a traveling musician. We also carve out time for them to see the sites in each area.”
Each year, the Minnesota Boychoir embarks upon an international or domestic tour, singing everywhere from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the French Riviera and the Sydney Opera House to Winnipeg and Kansas City. Johnson says for this tour, the program will feature a diverse mix of sacred and secular works – both traditional and contemporary.
The program will feature British choral composer Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of U2’s “MLK.”
Also on the docket, Billy Joel’s “Good Night My Angel,” “All Good Gifts” from “Godspell,” Bradley Ellingboe’s “How Can I Keep From Singing” and “Long Walk to Freedom” – based on a text by Nelson Mandela.
Also included in the concert are Spanish language pieces, “Yole Canto” and “Viva La Quince Brigada.”
“Each ensemble has a separate repertoire to perform,” Johnson says. “The members of the choir all practice after school and we maintain a busy schedule throughout the year.”
Johnson says the youngest in the group is 9 years old and the oldest is 18.
“I’ve been doing research and we’d love to get to Old Town and the Sandia tram,” he says. “We’re looking forward to learning more about the area and its culture. It’s very different from Minnesota.”