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Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus 80th Anniversary

Press Release: For immediate release: March 1, 2019

Founded in 1939, The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus commences the celebration of its 80th Anniversary in 2019. In 1939, little Jimmy Phersdorf became the first chorister of the Tucson Boys Chorus under the direction of Eduardo Caso, the founder and first director. Over the last eight decades, the Chorus has gained worldwide acclaim as one of the elite boy choirs on the planet. Thousands of boys have participated in the chorus and, chances are, most longtime residents know someone who sang (or sings) in the chorus. As part of the 80th Anniversary, the single largest monetary donation to the chorus in its history was announced. Dr. Jane Ackerley and current director Dr. Julian Ackerley, who celebrates his 40th anniversary as director in 2019, are making a one-time gift of $100,000. The challenge contribution is to triple it -- to help secure the legacy of the chorus for 80 more years.

Of special note during this anniversary year will be commissioned works, one by a former chorister Anthony Constantino, the October Musicale Regale, an engagement at the Fox Tucson Theatre, a performance with the Tucson Symphony, and an upcoming 80th Anniversary commemorative book.

A highlight will be an Alumni Reunion at Homecoming in November as guests of President Robbins and the University of Arizona - where the chorus and alumni will sing the National Anthem at the football game. The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus Chorus has grown over 80 years. There are five central choral groups: Cadet Choir, Training Chorus, TowneSingers, Touring Chorus, and the Young Men’s Ensemble. Neighborhood choral groups include: Northwest Voices in Oro Valley, Vail Voices in Vail, and Sahuarita Singers in Sahuarita.

History of Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus - In 1939, Eduardo Caso, emigrated from England to the West to create a boys choir rooted in the European tradition but uniquely American in sound and repertoire. Under Caso’s direction the chorus performed national radio broadcasts, concert tours of Arizona and the Southwest, and early television appearances, toured to Europe, Australia, across the United States, and sang at the 1963 White House tree-lighting ceremony. After the Chicago World's Fair in 1950, a reporter hailed the boys as Tucson's "Ambassadors in Levis". In 1965, Jeff Haskell led the boys with a live appearance on NBC's Bell Telephone Hour and TABC flourished for 10 years under Haskell including moving into the building on Pima Street. Dr. John S. Davis, a former boy soprano under the tutelage of Caso, was director for five years.

In 1980, Dr. Julian Ackerley was named Director, bringing to the organization extensive teaching experience at all levels, including three degrees in music with emphasis on music education, choral direction and voice performance. Under Dr. Ackerley's leadership, TABC experienced a boom in membership and activities. The Chorus has toured throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and South Africa. Complementing the concert tours have been collaborations with national symphony orchestras, radio and television appearances, partnerships with diverse arts and cultural organizations, and numerous recordings. Further credits include performances at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and another appearance at the White House (this time with President George H.W. Bush) for the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Dr. Ackerley has taken Tucson’s Goodwill Ambassadors on performance tours spanning five continents and 25 countries. Last year the chorus travelled to Mexico and China.

Spring registration is now underway. For more information about the chorus, visit boyschorus.org, the Boys Chorus office 5770 E. Pima Street, or by calling (520) 296-6277.

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