Powell River Academy of Music
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2020 Choirs

St. John's Boys' Choir - Collegeville, USA


Now in its 39th season, The St. John’s Boys’ Choir continues the tradition of enabling boys to express themselves through music, and provides an environment that nurtures and encourages creativity. Founded in 1981 by Br. Paul Richards and the Saint John’s monastic community, the organization has grown to include four choral ensembles which perform more than fifty engagements annually. Members of the choir represent home, public, and private schools in more than fifteen communities around Central Minnesota. Their repertoire includes sacred motets, classical masterpieces, folk music from around the world, and contemporary theatrical and popular selections. Concert sites include local schools, churches, civic organizations, private businesses, and in concert halls around the world.

The choir boys serve as ambassadors for choral music and for male singing, as well as ambassadors for Central Minnesota and the United States. Their travels have taken them to churches and concert stages in North and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. They have hosted international choir festivals, bringing more than 2,500 singers from around the world to the Saint John’s campus. They have shared their sacred music in some of the world’s most famous churches – Notre Dame in Paris, Sagrada Família in Barcelona, and Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin to name a few. They have graced the stage of Dvořak Hall in Prague and entertained dignitaries in Italy and Ireland. Here in the United States, they have accepted prestigious invitations to perform at state and regional conferences of the American Choral Directors’ Association, twice at the Oregon Bach Festival, and made their Carnegie Hall debut in 2019. They have appeared on the nationally-broadcast A Prairie Home Companion and can be heard on any of several independently-released CDs, as well as on recordings by Saint John’s Abbey, Amy Grant, and the Grammy-nominated album Ghosts Upon the Earth by Gungor.

For all its international success, the choir remains firmly rooted in its Central Minnesota community. The choir has collaborated with almost every musical ensemble in the region, as well as with several professional Minnesota artists such as Jearlyn Steele (gospel), George Maurer (jazz), Peter Rothstein (theater), the Rose Ensemble (choral), and the Minnesota Dance Ensemble. The choir has commissioned and premiered works by notable Minnesota composers Stephen Paulus, René Clausen, and Eric Barnum. They reinstituted and have twice hosted the Minnesota State Boy choir Festival, bringing together the state’s community boys’ choir organizations.

SJBC has a strong reputation across the state and the nation for its outstanding concert programming, refined choral tone, and exceptional commitment to male social development. A musical and experiential curriculum guides each choirboy’s progress through four different choral ensembles. The choirs perform as unique entities, but often combine to pursue repertoire with larger musical forces and to provide leadership opportunities for singers of all ages.


Aaron VanDanacker

Aaron VanDanacker is in his third year with The St. John's Boys' Choir, now serving as the Interim Artistic Director. There, he conducts the Varsity Choir, Nova Voce, and Concert Choir, as well as teaches upper-level music theory to the choirboys. Mr. VanDanacker studied K-12 Music Education at the University of St. Thomas with Dr. Angela Broeker and was also very active in piano studies with Dr. Vanessa Cornett. Mr. VanDanacker has taught public middle school choir and has served as music director and collaborative pianist for various arts, religious, and theatre organizations throughout Minnesota. His career as an educator and performer has allowed him to collaborate with many wonderful organizations and professionals who are dedicated to changing lives through music and promoting student growth through effective teaching that reaches all learners.

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