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American Boychoir School

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Title: American Boychoir School  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: James Litton, Princeton, New Jersey, Herbert Huffman, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, Saint Joseph's Seminary (Princeton, New Jersey)
Collection: American Choirs, Boarding Schools in New Jersey, Buildings and Structures in Princeton, New Jersey, Choir Schools, Choirs of Children, Music Schools in New Jersey, Musical Groups Established in 1937, National Choirs, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, Private Elementary Schools in New Jersey, Private Middle Schools in New Jersey, Private Schools in Mercer County, New Jersey, School Sex Abuse Scandals, Sexual Abuse Cover-Ups
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

American Boychoir School

American Boychoir School
The bus of the American Boychoir School at Saint Joseph's Seminary
Brothers, Sing On!
75 Mapleton Road
Princeton, New Jersey
 United States
Type Private, non-sectarian boarding school
Established 1937 (1937)

The American Boychoir School is a music boarding school and day school located in Hopewell, NJ, 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 countries.[1] The school was fictionalized in the 2014 film Boychoir.

On April 10, 2015 the school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy stating it needed $350,000 to finish the school year and $3,000,000 to come out of bankruptcy and open for the next academic year.[2] On April 14, 2015 the school announced it would end the school year early, on May 16 or 17, instead of reaching the normal time for graduation, the second week of June.[3]


  • The Choir 1
    • The school 1.1
    • Summer music programs 1.2
  • History 2
    • 2002 lawsuit and sexual abuse allegations 2.1
    • Discography 2.2
  • Notable alumni 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

The Choir

The American Boychoir performs in concerts across the United States and at international venues.[4] 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 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.[5]

In the 2004–2005 season, the boychoir performed at the 77th annual Academy Awards with pop singer Beyoncé Knowles[6] and with Jessye Norman before the United States Open (tennis) women's singles final. The choir also had tours across the United States and 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.[7]

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.[8] Auditions are required for enrollment into The American Boychoir School.

The school

The American Boychoir School is located at a summer camp in Hopewell, NJ as of September 2015, and has 31 boys in the school.

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, gender or religion.[11]

Summer music programs

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

Camp Albemarle provides choruses, a musicianship training program and a small group vocal instruction training program.[12]

The American Boychoir Experience is for boys ages 9–12 only, and 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.[12]

The week includes choral training, music theory, and a tour bus and media event. An audition is necessary to participate in The American Boychoir Experience.


Albemarle, the 1917 estate of pharmaceutical magnate Gerard Lambert, home to the school from 1952–2012[13]

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".[14] Founded originally as the Columbus Boychoir, the group moved to Princeton in 1950. It changed its name to the American Boychoir in 1980.[15]

Former choir directors at the choir school include Herbert Huffman (founder), Donald Bryant, Robert W. Haley, Howard Jewell, Donald G. Hanson, John Kuzma, Jim Litton, Craig Denison, Wallace Hornady and Nathan Wadley.

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. Litton also introduced the changing voice and established SATB sections in the choir. He helped recognize that all boys should continue singing regardless of their voice change.[16]

2002 lawsuit and sexual abuse allegations

In April, 2002, The New York Times reported sexual abuse which had taken place at the Boychoir School several decades earlier by Choir Director Donald G. Hanson and other staff.[17] In court documents, the American Boychoir claimed that it had no duty to protect children in their care from sexual abuse 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.[18] 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.[17] Many other boys have now come forward and said they were sexually abused, either by staff members or other older students enrolled at the school. This abuse occurred in the 1970s, 1980's, and even into the late 1990s. The school has now adopted new policies to protect the boys from further sexual abuse, but has paid over $850,000 in settlement money to one victim to avoid further lawsuits.

On August 8, 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled against the school's appeal of a lower court decision.[19][20] 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.[21][22] The school's lawyers requested the New Jersey Supreme Court to reconsider the decision, claiming the ruling represented a major extension of vicarious liability.[23] 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.[24]


  • I Hear America Singing (2013),Albemarle Records AR 1008,The American Boychoir, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director
  • Journey On...Passport to a World of Music (2010), Albemarle Records AR 1007, The American Boychoir, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director
  • ACDA concert, Oklahoma city, Oklahoma, with other choirs (2009)
  • St. Mathews Passion (2008), Kurt Masur, The American Boychoir, Westminster Choir College and the New York Philharmonic
  • Harmony: American Songs of Faith (2007), 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 (2007), 70th Anniversary Compilation
  • A Princeton Christmas for the Children of Africa (2007), 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 (2004), Albemarle Records AR1005, The American Boychoir, James Litton, Conductor; Scott Dettra, Organ
  • Voices of Angels (2004) Albemarle Records, The American Boychoir, James Litton and Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Conductors
  • The Lost Christmas Eve (2004) 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(2003), Albemarle Records 1003, The American Boychoir, Vincent Metallo, Conductor; John Charles Schuker, Organ; Barbara Ann Biggers, Harp
  • Lullaby, Music for the Quiet Times (2002), Albemarle Records 1002, The American Boychoir, James Litton, Music Director
  • American Songfest (2002), Albemarle Records 1001, The American Boychoir, Vincent Metallo, Music Director
  • Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic (special edition) (2001), 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 (2002) 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 (2000), LINN Records CKD 152, James Litton, Music Director; Members of the New York Collegium
  • The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias (1999), 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) (1999), Virgin Classics 7243 5 45368 2 3, The American Boychoir with James Litton, Music Director; Patricia Petibon, Soprano; Catherine King, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Christmastime (1998), 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 (1998), Miramax, Original motion picture soundtrack composed by Edmund Choi
  • Grace (1997), Sony Classical SK 62035, The American Boychoir with Kathleen Battle, The American Boychoir performs with Ms. Battle on Track 3, Mozart's Laudate Dominum.
  • Sing! (1997), ABS Recordings E-2200, The American Boychoir, James Litton, Music Director
  • Carol (1996), EMI CDC 7243 5 56180 2 3, The American Boychoir with the Albemarle Consort of Voices and orchestra, James Litton, Conductor
  • In the Spirit (1996), 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 (1996), EMI CDC 7243 5 55247, The American Boychoir, James Litton, Music Director, A collection of selections from The American Boychoir’s tour programs performed either a capella or with piano.
  • Hymn (1995), 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 (1994), 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 (1994), Geffen GEFD 24719, Original motion picture soundtrack, composed by Elliot Goldenthal
  • Lost in the Stars (1992), 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 (1992), SONY Classical SK 48235, The American Boychoir featuring Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, Wynton Marsalis, André Previn, Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s
  • Trumpets Sound, Voices Ring (1991), MusicMasters 523153F, The American Boychoir with the James Litton, Music Director
  • Trumpets Sound, Voices Ring (single CD version) (1991), MusicMasters 01612-67076-2, The American Boychoir, James Litton, Music Director
  • Dixit Dominus (1991), 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 (1990), 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 (1990), 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 (1988), Music Heritage Society MHC 312514Y, The American Boychoir with The American Symphony Orchestra
  • The American Boychoir with Jessye Norman – Christmastide (1987), 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 (1987), 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 (1986), The American Boychoir and other choirs, Reunion Records
  • Britten Ceremony of Carols (1983), 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 (1983), Pro Arte Digital, The American Boychoir, John Kuzma, Music Director
  • Messiah (1981), 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 (1975), Kalvier Records, The American Boychoir with The William Hall Chorale and Vienna Festival Symphony Orchestra, William Hall, Conductor, First American recording
  • Felix Mendelssohn Elijah (1970), 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 (1966), The Columbus Boychoir, Donald Bryant, Music Director
  • Columbus Boychoir School 25th Anniversary Concert, June 5, 1965 (1965), Private issue, The Columbus Boychoir, Donald Bryant, Music Director, Live concert recording, Westminster Choir College
  • Columbus Boychoir Christmas Concert, December 1964 (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 (1963), Columbus Boychoir with the Rise Stevens, Brian Sullivan, and the Firestone Orchestra and Chorus, Donald Bryant, director
  • Family Christmas Favorites, c. 1962, Decca, The Columbus Boychoir with Bing Crosby, Donald Bryant, Conductor
  • The Columbus Boychoir, c. 1962, Donald Bryant, Music Director
  • Christmastime, c. 1960, Decca, The Columbus Boychoir with other choirs, Donald Bryant, conductor
  • Singing for the Joy of It (1961), Decca DL 74135, The Columbus Boychoir, Donald Bryant, Music Director
  • Joy to the World, c. 1960, Decca DL 78920, The Columbus Boychoir, Donald Bryant, Music Director
  • The Columbus Boychoir, c. 1960, Gothic, The Columbus Boychoir with the Princeton Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Harsanyi, Conductor; Joanna Richard, Soprano; Rachel Armstrong, Alto, Donald Bryant, Conductor
  • Festival of Song (1955), Decca DL 8106, The Columbus Boychoir, Herbert Huffman, Music Director
  • Arrigo Boito Mephistofele “Prologue” (1954), RCA, 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 (1951), RCA 6485-2-RG, American Boychoir chorister Chet Allen
  • The Lord’s Prayer; O Holy Night, c. 1950, RCA Victor, The Columbus Boychoir, Herbert Huffman, conductor
  • Favorite Christmas Carols, c. 1947, The Columbus Boychoir, Herbert Huffman, Music Director
  • The Columbus Boychoir – May 6, 1947 concert, Herbert Huffman, Music Director

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  2. ^ "American Boychoir School – A Letter from the Chairman of the Board". American Boychoir School. 
  3. ^ Knapp, Krystal. "American Boychoir School to Finish Academic Year Early Due to Financial Woes". Planet Princeton. 
  4. ^ "Performance Highlights | The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "School". The American Boychoir. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  8. ^ "Alumni Chorus | The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  9. ^ "High School Placement | The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  10. ^ School Search, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Accessed July 29, 2008
  11. ^ "Mission Statement of The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Summer Music Programs | The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  13. ^ Knapp, Krystal (May 7, 2015). "A controversial Expansion Plan: International School on Lambert Drive in Princeton Seeks to Add Buildings and Increase Student Population in Residential Neighborhood". Planet Princeton. 
  14. ^ "The American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  15. ^ "Princeton Patron article". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  16. ^ James Litton: Music Director, American Boychoir. Accessed October 21, 2007.
  17. ^ 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."
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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).[5]
  20. ^ Text of NJ Supreme Court decision.
  21. ^ "Town Topics". Town Topics. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  22. ^ Beth DeFalco (Aug 9, 2006). "High court clears way for school sex abuse suit ; Rules negligence protection law doesn't apply".  
  23. ^ New Jersey Lawyer Online, News Brief 2006-08-21, "Lawyer: Boychoir decision expands vicarious liability" [6]
  24. ^ Deborah Howlett, Newark Star-Ledger, January 6, 2006, "Charities lose sex-lawsuit – Codey signs bill allowing legal action against pedophiles' employers", cite from here [7]. Note that the linked citation's date is incorrectly stated as June 6. Correct date was retrieved from Star Ledger archive search.[8]
  25. ^ "Coast Lyric Tenor Wins Met Auditions".  
  26. ^ "The Boy Choir and Soloist Directory, Chet Allen". 
  27. ^ "The Legacy of the Saint Olaf Choir".  
  28. ^ Heilemann, John (2005-05-21). "Lawrence Lessig and John Hardwicke Fight Sexual Abuse and the American Boychoir School". Retrieved 2011-01-23. 

External links

  • American Boychoir School
  • Lawrence Lessig and the American Boychoir School – May 2005 article
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