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Land of Lakes Choirboys 

 of Minnesota

40th Anniversary Season

Celebrating the Journey


Ordinary Boys. Doing Extraordinary Things.

Our History

Choir in 1976

As a young Marine on weekend liberty almost a half-century ago, Craig Carmody-Anderson accompanied a friend - reluctantly - one day in 1962 to hear the Vienna Boys' Choir.  By intermission he knew that, though he had scant musical training or experience, this is what he wanted to do one day.  A chance encounter the following year with a suddenly director-less choir at the Minneapolis Boys' Club ("Well, they were not the Vienna Boys' Choir," he notes dryly) led him to learn the rudiments of directing - on the job, from the accompanist.  But soon other obligations and interested intervened - family repsonsibilities (he had married the accompanist), the Boys' Club, a career as a police officer and coaching boys' gymnastics.  For years, having a choir of his own remained just a dream.  Finally, in 1976, "Andy" was asked to form a choir to sing at a celebration of the country's bicentennial in his native Elk River, Minnesota.  HE agreed - on condition that it be a boy choir.  An ad in the local newspaper and church bulletins drew 18 boys to the first rehearsals, and when the celebration was cancelled, parents convinced the director to continue, and the Land of Lakes Choirboys was born.

 

Before the end of the choir’s first season, Andy recruited John Fitzgerald from the Boys’ Club to come on board as prefect. Who better than a law student with a military background and an imposing frame—who happened to be exceptionally gifted in working with and building up children—to reinforce discipline as a positive thing? With thunder in his voice and a twinkle in his eye, John became the backbone of offstage activity, and, Andy

 remembers, “John and the boys took to each other like ducks to water.” The first tour went off without a hitch, and as the group grew, the two men likewise grew into it. Andy studied music and developed his directing technique. John practiced law and grace, and the program evolved to include training not just in music but in conduct and manners, an annual national or international tour, and a growing reputation. Along the way grew an association

 with top musicians, including Wolfgang Powischer and the Vienna Boys’ Choir, with whom Andy and the boys had

 a reciprocal hosting arrangement. The connection was serendipitous.


For the Land of Lakes Choirboys’ 1984 European tour, Herr Powischer matched Andy and John up with one of

Choir in 1986

his voice colleagues to serve as translator and tour guide. New Zealander Francis Stockwell had trained in Geneva, Switzerland, as a concert pianist before establishing a career living with, caring for, entertaining and teaching boys English, Latin, German, math and music at an elite international school in Zug, Switzerland—not to mention founding their touring boy choir. Needless to say, he hit it off with the group then, as well as on a second tour he accompanied in 1993. Four years later, when the chance arose to bring Francis and his formidable gifts into the organization, Andy stepped aside as director to make room for him. Once again, however, he was destined not to give up the baton. Inevitably, perhaps, the organization quickly grew to accommodate two directors, two choirs, and eventually two tours each summer.

 

From this abundance of ability and a shared vision of excellence evolved a preparatory training program with two more choirs and the desire to lay a foundation to ensure the future of the organization.  In 2004, the group brought on young blood.  In his budding career Aaron Carpenter had logged years already directing a boys' choir; with his broad background in church music and in conducting came a corresponding depth, ambition and passion for variety: he is committed to stretching not only the notes, but the group's and individual's sense of possibilities for the present, as well as for their future.  Aaron was appointed Artistic Director in the fall of 2011.

 


Choir in 2012As the choir has traveled through all contiguous states, Hawaii, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand, so its reputation has grown to receive international acclaim including a Trebby Award for Best Boychoir Recording of 2004, Grand Champion of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Festivals in 2006, and two Silver Medals at the 2008 World Choir Games in Graz, Austria. The initial core of family and friends has expanded likewise to encompass many thousands, across the nation and across the world, who have been moved and changed by an intimate encounter with the music, as did a young Marine was one evening so many years ago.