The Mississippi Boychoir hones the vocal skills of youths grades 5 through 12. Photo courtesy Mississippi Boychoir
Determined to have a successful season, the Mississippi Boychoir has been working hard to combat the issues that COVID-19 presents, quickly adapting to a virtual platform for auditions and performances.
Katherine Hoitt, artistic director for the Mississippi Boychoir, will hold virtual auditions for the concert choir via Zoom. Positions are open to children grades 5 through 12. Parents may submit their child's information through the Boychoir's website, msboychoir.org, and set up a time for the virtual audition.
Auditions last 10 to 15 minutes and require no preparation, as Hoitt will ask each applicant to sing a well-known song such as "Happy Birthday" and then ask why they want to join the Boychoir. The organization also has a training choir for 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-graders that does not require an audition to join.
The Mississippi Boychoir will start its season on Sept. 12. The Boychoir will meet in person for 30-minute rehearsals, but members are required to sing while wearing face masks and while maintaining social-distancing guidelines.
"What we do is heavily based on connecting with people in real life, so we're trying to find a way to connect to people but make it happen in a safe way," Hoitt says.
The Mississippi Boychoir is already planning its annual Christmas performance, which will be completely virtual this year. Because the Boychoir has had to cancel all its local events planned for the fall season, the organization will spend rehearsal time focusing on perfecting the Christmas program.
"Normally, we would have quite a few small performances leading up to (the Christmas performance), but this semester we are really focusing on our own education of the boys and on preparing that Christmas music," Hoitt says.
"We'll focus on music literacy, sight singing and making sure that we have that music learned by the pre-recording of the virtual concert."
The online Christmas show will be free to view, with the live-stream featuring a combination of live elements and pre-recorded elements. Executive Director Lanise Aultman is working with the Department of Archives and History to record the program at the Old Capitol Museum.
Transitioning from live auditions and performances to virtual ones has been a big learning for the Mississippi Boychoir, Aultman and Hoitt note, but they are hopeful that everything will work out as planned so that they can successfully finish out the season—and with luck return to a state of normalcy in due time.
"Last year, we were invited to be the prelude choir to the Texas International Choral Festival in July of 2020. Of course, that didn't take place, but the invitation is still open for us to be their prelude choir for their festival in June of 2021," Aultman says. "We're trying to plan for something that we hope will actually take place, with the eye on the fact that that information could change."
For more information on the Mississippi Boychoir's programming or about auditions for the fall, call 601-665-7374 or visit msboychoir.org.