American Boychoir School

American Boychoir School

The American Boychoir School is a music boarding school located in Princeton, New Jersey. It is one of only two boychoir boarding schools in the United States, the other being Saint Thomas Choir School in New York City. The school serves boys in grades 4-8 who come from across the United States as well as many international countries.[1]


The Choir

The American Boychoir is regarded as one of the nation's premier choral groups, performing in many concerts across the United States and at international venues.[2] On average, the choir makes over 200 appearances in four to five major tours annually. In its history, the choir has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The St. Olaf Choir, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and several opera singers including Jessye Norman, Frederica von Stade and Kathleen Battle. The choir has had numerous television appearances on NBC's Today show and is featured on sixteen recordings. One of its members in 1951-1952, Chet Allen was cast as Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti's first ever opera for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors on the Hallmark Hall of Fame, then on NBC.[3]

In the 2004-2005 season, the boychoir performed at the 77th annual Academy Awards with pop diva Beyoncé Knowles[4] and with Jessye Norman before the United States Open (tennis) women's singles final. Other highlights included tours across the United States and into Canada, an appearance in Boston and at Carnegie Hall in celebration of James Levine’s inaugural season as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as six performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra.[5]

The American Boychoir is subdivided into two choirs: the Concert Choir and the Training Choir. The Concert Choir, currently conducted by Fernando Malvar- Ruiz, performs and tours regularly while Training Choir, currently conducted by Fred Meads, is made up of first year students that receive training in order to move up to the Concert Choir when they are ready. Boys join the choir by auditioning while visiting the school, or auditioning after Boychoir performances at concert sites or after school programs. An alumnus may join the Alumni Chorus, conducted by music director emeritus, James Litton.[6] Auditions are required for enrollment into The American Boychoir School.


Journey On...Passport to a World of Music
Albemarle Records AR 1007
The American Boychoir,
Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director

ACDA concert
other choirs
Oklahoma city,OK
St. Mathews Passion
Kurt Masur, West Minister Choir College and the New York Philharmonic

Harmony: American Songs of Faith
Albemarle Records AR 1006
The American Boychoir, St. Olaf Choir, and Alumni Chorus of the American Boychoir School
Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director; Anton Armstrong, Conductor; James Litton, Music Director Emeritus

Columbus~American Boychoir
70th Anniversary Compilation

A Princeton Christmas for the Children of Africa
The American Boychoir, Princeton Day School Choir Madrigal Singers, The Princeton Girlchoir, The Princeton High School Choir, The Princeton University Chapel Choir, the Tartantones of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, The Westminster Choir, and the Westminster Concert Bell Choir of Westminster Choir College
All proceeds benefit the UN World Food Program

Messe Basse
Albemarle Records AR1005
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Conductor; Scott Dettra, Organ

Voices of Angels
Albemarle Records AR1004
The American Boychoir
James Litton and Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Conductors

The Lost Christmas Eve
Lava/Atlantic Records 93146-2 distributed by Atlantic Records
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (The American Boychoir is heard on Track 5, Remember)
Gold sales of this album were certified by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2005

Benjamin Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
Albemarle Records 1003
The American Boychoir
Vincent Metallo, Conductor; John Charles Schuker, Organ; Barbara Ann Biggers, Harp

Lullaby, Music for the Quiet Times
Albemarle Records 1002
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Music Director
Soothing lullabies for children and adults in many languages and from many lands

American Songfest
Albemarle Records 1001
The American Boychoir
Vincent Metallo, Music Director
A musical overview of American composers throughout the 20th century

Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic (special edition)
The American Boychoir with the New York Choral Artists
The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc.; Kurt Masur, Music Director

Litton Live! – The Farewell Concert
American Boychoir 103
The Concert Choir, the Training Choir, and the Alumni Chorus
James Litton, Music Director

Mass & Vespers for the Feast of Holy Innocents
LINN Records CKD 152
James Litton, Music Director; Members of the New York Collegium

The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias
Sony SK60569
The American Boychoir with Alanis Morissette, James Taylor, Salif Keita, Perry Farrel and Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn

Fast Cats and Mysterious Cows (Songs from America)
Virgin Classics 7243 5 45368 2 3
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Music Director; Patricia Petibon, Soprano; Catherine King, Mezzo-Soprano

Reunion Records 02341 0015 2, Michael W. Smith
The American Boychoir is featured on Track 3 Christmastime; Track 6 Medley: Sing We Now of Christmas; O Come O Come Emmanuel, Emmanuel; and Track 11 Carols Sing.

Wide Awake
Original motion picture soundtrack composed by Edmund Choi

Sony Classical SK 62035
The American Boychoir with Kathleen Battle
The American Boychoir performs with Ms. Battle on Track 3, Mozart's Laudate Dominum.

ABS Recordings E-2200
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Music Director

EMI CDC 7243 5 56180 2 3
The American Boychoir with the Albemarle Consort of Voices and orchestra
James Litton, Conductor

In the Spirit
Phillips 454 985-2
The American Boychoir with Jessye Norman
David Robertson, Conductor
The American Boychoir is heard on Away in a Manger, Of the father's Love Begotten and Mary Had a Baby.

By Request
EMI CDC 7243 5 55247
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Music Director
A collection of the most popular selections from The American Boychoir’s tour programs performed either a capella or with piano.

EMI CDC 55064 2 9
The American Boychoir with Stephen Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris, the Albemarle Consort of Voices, and the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble
James Litton, Music Director
Orchestrated and arranged by Ron Huff and Tom Mitchell

In Search of Angels
Windham Hill Records 01934 11153-2
The American Boychoir featuring Patty Larkin, Jane Siberry, k.d. lang, Tim Story, and others
Soundtrack from PBS Special. Choir sings Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree.

Interview with the Vampire
Geffen GEFD 24719
Original motion picture soundtrack, composed by Elliot Goldenthal

Lost in the Stars
MusicMasters Classics 01612-67100-2
American Boychoir Chorister Jamal Howard sings the role of Alex in this recorded revival of the passionate musical based on Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country.
Julius Rudel, Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert
SONY Classical SK 48235
The American Boychoir featuring Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, Wynton Marsalis
Andre Previn, Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Trumpets Sound, Voices Ring
MusicMasters 523153F
The American Boychoir with the Atlantic Brass Quintet, William Trafka, Organ; Thomas Goeman, Piano and Harpsichord
James Litton, Music Director

Trumpets Sound, Voices Ring (single CD version)
MusicMasters 01612-67076-2
The American Boychoir
James Litton, Music Director

Dixit Dominus
MusicMasters 01612-67084-2
The American Boychoir with the Albemarle Consort of Voices, and the Eighteenth Century Ensemble
James Litton, Music Director

Hymnody of Earth
MusicMasters 01612-67058-2
A ceremony of songs for choir, hammer dulcimer and percussion composed and arranged by Malcolm Dalglish (b. 1953) with inspiration and lyrics from Wendell Berry

The American Boychoir On Tour
Ocaso HR006CD
The American Boychoir; Thomas Goeman and Wallace Hornady, Piano
James Litton, Conductor
Selections from The American Boychoir tour repertoire

Leonard Bernstein, Chichester Psalms; Charles Davidson, I Never Saw Another Butterfly
Music Heritage Society MHC 312514Y
The American Boychoir with The American Symphony Orchestra

The American Boychoir with Jessye Norman – Christmastide
Philips 420 180-2, released on video
The American Boychoir with the New York Choral Society and the Empire Chamber Ensemble
Robert De Cormier, Conductor

On Christmas Day
Ocaso HR002
The American Boychoir with the Cathedral Symphony Orchestra and the New York Vocal Consort
James Litton, Conductor

Go West Young Man, Michael W. Smith
The American Boychoir and other choirs
Reunion Records

Britten Ceremony of Carols
Pro Arte Digital
The American Boychoir with Ruth Negri, Harp; Harriett Wintergreen, Piano; Paul-Martin Maki, Organ
John Kuzma, Music Director

This is my Country
Pro Arte Digital
The American Boychoir
John Kuzma, Music Director

Smithsonian Collection
The American Boychoir with Smithsonian Chamber Players and Normal Scribner Chorus, conducted by James Weaver. Soloists: Carole Bogarde (soprano), Elvira Green (alto), Jeffrey Gall (counter-tenor), Charles Bressler (tenor), and Leslie Guinn (bass).
Performed on original instruments; the only American men-and-boys recording of Handel’s Messiah

Benjamin Britten War Requiem
Kalvier Records
The American Boychoir with The William Hall Chorale and Vienna Festival Symphony Orchestra, William Hall, Conductor
First American recording

Felix Mendelssohn Elijah
RCA Red Seal
The Columbus Boychoir with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Shirley Verrett, Soprano; Richard Lewis, Bass; Eugene Ormandy, Conductor.
Robert Haley, Director
Recorded April 8–9, 1969. Released September 1970.

Leonard Bernstein Kaddish Symphony
Private Label
The Columbus Boychoir
Donald Bryant, Music Director

Columbus Boychoir School 25th Anniversary Concert, June 5, 1965
Private issue
The Columbus Boychoir
Donald Bryant, Music Director
Live concert recording, Westminster Choir College

Columbus Boychoir Christmas Concert, December 1964
Private issue
The Columbus Boychoir
Donald Bryant, Music Director
Live concert recordings, Alexander Hall (Princeton)
12-inch LP recordings of excerpts from Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah (+Hallelujah)
10-inch LP recording of Christmas carols

Firestone presents Your Favorite Christmas Carols
Columbus Boychoir with the Rise Stevens, Brian Sullivan, and the Firestone Orchestra and Chorus
Donald Bryant, director

Family Christmas Favorites
ca. 1962
The Columbus Boychoir with Bing Crosby
Donald Bryant, Conductor

The Columbus Boychoir
ca. 1962
Donald Bryant, Music Director

ca. 1960
The Columbus Boychoir with other choirs
Donald Bryant, conductor

Singing for the Joy of It
Decca DL 74135
The Columbus Boychoir
Donald Bryant, Music Director

Joy to the World
ca. 1960
Decca DL 78920
The Columbus Boychoir
Donald Bryant, Music Director

The Columbus Boychoir
ca. 1960
The Columbus Boychoir with the Princeton Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Harsanyi, Conductor; Joanna Richard, Soprano; Rachel Armstrong, Alto
Donald Bryant, Conductor

Festival of Song
Decca DL 8106
The Columbus Boychoir
Herbert Huffman, Music Director

Arrigo Boito Mephistofele “Prologue”
The Columbus Boychoir with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, Arturo Toscanini, Conductor; Nicola Moscona, Bass.
Herbert Huffman, Conductor
Taken from the broadcast of March 14, 1954

Amahl and the Night Visitors
Original Cast of the NBC telecast
RCA 6485-2-RG
American Boychoir chorister Chet Allen

The Lord’s Prayer; O Holy Night
ca. 1950
RCA Victor
The Columbus Boychoir
Herbert Huffman, conductor

Favorite Christmas Carols
ca. 1947
The Columbus Boychoir
Herbert Huffman, Music Director

The Columbus Boychoir – May 6, 1947 concert
Herbert Huffman, Music Director

The school

The American Boychoir School is located on a 15-acre (61,000 m2) campus in Princeton. Classes, rehearsals and meals all take place in a large brick Georgian mansion known as Albemarle. Three stories high, with 50-odd rooms. The mansion was once the summer home of Gerard Lambert, the founder of Warner-Lambert, a chemical company. On the campus there are two dormitories named Ettl and Cottage, a soccer field, outdoor swimming pool as well as a fenced, multipurpose tennis court with basketball hoops.[7]

The school offers some intramural sports in which most boys participate, including soccer, basketball, cross-country running, tennis, flag football, and ultimate.[8] Special interest clubs and outings organized by the Parents Association provide evening and weekend fun.

Graduates of The American Boychoir School go on to high schools around the country – public and private.[9]

The school is a fully accredited member of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.[10] and Middle States Association.

The American Boychoir School is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization. The School welcomes does not discriminate in its admissions, scholarship programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion.[11]

Academic Curriculum

Students at the American Boychoir School receive a normal, middle school education as well as extensive music training.[12] The academic curriculum of The American Boychoir School is structured so that the boys gain their education not only in the classroom, but also during their touring and travel experiences, and their musical performances.

The boys enjoy the advantage of small classes in grades 4th through 8th. The 4th and 5th grade combination is a self-contained class where the students have regular daily periods of Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

In grades six through eight, the boys change classes for Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and Spanish.

Language Arts consists of lessons in grammar, spelling, vocabulary, literature, and an extensive writing program. Required reading is often integrated with Social Studies units and frequently coincides with an area to which the boys travel. A teacher-formulated writing process has successfully been used to expand the students’ ability to organize and express their ideas and opinions with coherence and fluency. [13]

Math classes for each grade level are divided into sections by ability. Sixth grade is general math. Seventh grade begins the study of algebraic expressions, linear equations and reviews of percentages, decimals, and proportions. Eighth grade focuses on complex word problems, multi-step equations, and polynomials. The other section of grade eight performs quadratic functions and expressions with radicals.[14]

Social Studies in the sixth grade includes geography and history. It is a survey of World Geography and Culture. Current events are an integral part of the program. Seventh grade focuses on American History from Early American Civilization to Reconstruction. Eighth grade continues from Reconstruction to the present, emphasizing America’s role in the Global Community. Science classes are closely connected to the boys’ environment, working with the scientific process and the relevance it has in their lives. Sixth grade studies Life Science – the Unity and Diversity of Life. Seventh grade studies Earth Science. Eighth grade studies Physical Science, which includes Chemistry and Physics. The year culminates with an independent science project, which is developed throughout the year and displayed at the science fair.[15]

Spanish instruction develops the students’ understanding and practical use of the language. The students learn oral structures, grammar, vocabulary, reading in context and writing skills. Their level of competency progresses with practice in speaking, conversation and composition. [16]

Music curriculum

The professionalism of The American Boychoir is dependent on the boys being truly well-rounded musicians. This means carefully learned vocal technique coupled with a very high level of music literacy. To achieve this, the boys attend Music Theory classes four days a week, encompassing four specific areas of training.[17]

Aural Training is where the boys learn games and exercises that develop their abilities to hear musical intervals, expand their tonal memory skills, recognize patterns in music, and sing in tune. Once comfortable with these skills, they learn to use them to read music at a collegiate level.

Written Theory is focused on the interpretation of a musical score. The symbols, directions, and structure of printed music are carefully studied, so that boys can intuitively read a piece in its entirety, and not just the notes and rhythms alone. In advanced classes, boys learn to analyze the structure and form of musical works, and eventually to compose basic pieces on their own.

Vocal Technique gives the boys a chance to work in small groups on the essentials of singing correctly. They must learn about correct body posture, breathing, relaxation, vowel formation, and placement of the voice. Good vocal health and voice production are stressed.

Rehearsal Technique is where boys learn how to be active participants in a choral rehearsal. They are taught how to mark their music, ask appropriate questions, and be successful through the musical learning process. These classes are alternated with time spent in the Technology Lab, where all computers are equipped with a music study program. This allows the boys to improve their skills in areas of rhythm, intervals, tonal memory, and even basic composition.

Summer Music Programs

The American Boychoir has two distinct music programs: Camp Albemarle and The American Boychoir Experience.

Camp Albemarle

Choruses - Explores the fundamentals of healthy and artistic singing techniques and performs music of many different cultural traditions spanning an entire millennium. [18]

Musicianship Training Program - Participates in creative music-making utilizing the methods of Orff, Kodaly, and Gordon using Orff instruments (pitched and un-pitched percussion instruments, recorders).

Small Group Vocal Instruction Training Program - Optional for ages 12–14. Groups of four work with experienced vocal instructors to explore their vocal potential and increase confidence in singing accurately from a notated score.

All campers participate in two concerts every session. At the Friday Night Concert, campers in the Musicianship Training Program demonstrate their improved understanding of music theory on the Orff instruments.

The Saturday Morning Choral Concert showcases the Albemarle Chorus, the Albemarle Junior Chorus and Small Group Vocal Training students. The program is followed by a reception and good-byes.

Mornings between classes are filled with outdoor playground games and fun group activities. Afternoons are spent swimming, playing team sports and doing arts and crafts. In the evening, boarding campers play campus-wide games including Capture-the-flag, Mission Impossible and Stronghold, perform in lip-sync contests, go bowling and play in a live-action game of Clue. On weekends there are trips to the beach, the zoo, the movies and baseball games.

The American Boychoir Experience

For boys ages 9–12 only. Provides the experience of one week in the life of an American Boychoir student without the academic classes. This professional experience in choral training culminates in a Tour Bus event in addition to traditional summer activities.[18]

Choral Training - An opportunity to learn and perfect repertoire with Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director of The American Boychoir that is consistent with that of a typical American Boychoir concert. Boys explore and improve their vocal potential in Small Group Vocal Instruction classes.

Music Theory - Campers improve their skills in sight reading and ear training based on the Kodaly Method.

Tour Bus and Media Event - Includes a trip on 'Gus', the same bus that carries The American Boychoir around the country each year. The bus trip culminates in a professional photo shoot.

As in Camp Albemarle, the mornings between classes are filled with outdoor playground games and fun group activities. Afternoons are spent swimming, playing team sports and doing crafts.

An audition is necessary to participate in The American Boychoir Experience.


The choir and school were founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1937, by Herbert Huffman who believed that "the experience of performing the great choral literature – and performing it at the highest professional levels – could have a profound effect on the academic, social and moral development of boys".[5] Founded originally as the Columbus Boychoir, the group moved to Princeton in 1950. It changed its name to the American Boychoir in 1980.[19]

From 1985 to 2001, the choir was conducted by James Litton, an expert on children's choral techniques and vocal production. Regarded as one of America's prominent choral conductors, Litton led the boychoir in more than 2,000 concerts in 49 states and 12 nations.[20]

In April, 2002, The New York Times reported sexual abuse which had taken place at the Boychoir School several decades earlier.[21] In court documents, the American Boychoir claimed that it had no duty to protect children in their care from sexual abuse by staff and that children who were abused were themselves negligent for not bringing the abuse to light. One of the students who had claimed that he was victimized was constitutional scholar Lawrence Lessig, who has represented another student, John Hardwicke, in his lawsuit against the school.[22] In its court filings, the school claimed that Hardwicke, then 12, had consented to sex and said that he was negligent in not reporting the incident at the time.[21]

On August 8, 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled against the school's appeal of a lower court decision.[23][24] The school had contended that the state's charitable immunity act protected it from liability in sexual abuse lawsuits brought by former students. The court found that the Charitable Immunity Act immunizes charities for negligence only; it does not bar statutory or common-law claims that are based on willful, wanton or grossly negligent conduct.[25][26] The school's lawyers requested the New Jersey Supreme Court to reconsider the decision, claiming the ruling represented a major extension of vicarious liability.[27]

On January 5, 2006, then-Governor of New Jersey Richard Codey signed bill S540/A2512 into New Jersey law, ending the Boychoir's charitable immunity defense, and making New Jersey the 48th state to allow victims of childhood sex abuse to sue churches, schools and other non-profits for the actions of their staff.[28]

The lawsuit from 35 years ago has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Both parties agreed, as part of the resolution, not to comment on the details.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ School Search, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Accessed July 29, 2008
  11. ^ The mission statement of the school
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ Princeton Patron article.
  20. ^ James Litton: Music Director, American Boychoir. Accessed October 21, 2007.
  21. ^ a b Diana Jean Schemo, "Decades of Sex Abuse Are Described at Choir School in New Jersey", The New York Times, April 16, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2008. "In a court filing, the school accused Mr. Hardwicke of negligence, saying if he had been abused he should have spoken up at the time. The school argued that it was not responsible for Mr. Hanson's behavior or Mr. Hardwicke's well-being, and said that Mr. Hardwicke, then 12, had consented to sex."
  22. ^ Heilemann, John. "The Choirboy: As head boy at a legendary choir school, Lawrence Lessig was repeatedly molested by the charismatic choir director, part of a horrific pattern of child abuse there. Now, as one of America’s most famous lawyers, he’s put his own past on trial to make sure such a thing never happens again.", New York (magazine), May 30, 2005. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  23. ^ Institutional Liability and Statutes of Limitation in Sexual Abuse cases, Hardwick v. American Boychoir School, 902 A. 2d 900 (N.J. 2006), School Law Reporter vol. 48 no. 11 (Nov. 2006).[1]
  24. ^ Text of NJ Supreme Court decision.
  25. ^ Town Topics
  26. ^ High court clears way for school sex abuse suit ; Rules negligence protection law doesn't apply; BETH DeFALCO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. The Record. Bergen County, N.J.: Aug 9, 2006. pg. A.04 [2]
  27. ^ New Jersey Lawyer Online, News Brief 2006-08-21, "Lawyer: Boychoir decision expands vicarious liability" [3]
  28. ^ Deborah Howlett, Newark Star-Ledger, January 6, 2006, "Charities lose sex-lawsuit -- Codey signs bill allowing legal action against pedophiles' employers", cite from here. Note that the linked citation's date is incorrectly stated as June 6. Correct date was retrieved from Star Ledger archive search.[4]

External links

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