The Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale moved into a new building at 1336 Spring Garden St. to expand its programming to include a girls’ choir and voice lessons.
The building has a ground floor with offices for its staff and an auditorium upstairs which the choir uses for practices. Marketing director of the choir Stephan Stoeckl said he believes the 19,000-square-foot space allows the choir more room for development, new programs and community involvement.
“We are closer to downtown. I think this is a vibrant community and there’s a lot of other arts organizations that are around,” Stoeckl said. “The possibility of making our auditorium available for other arts organizations is something that we certainly want to explore in the future.”
The upstairs auditorium in the new building was previously used as a catering hall. The boys choir has made use of all its benefits including a bar with a soda fountain.
“We took out the beer lines but we kept the soda. The kids love it,” Stoeckl said. “We have ginger ale, and we have a lemon lime drink. On a good day we’ll make a Shirley Temple for them.”
Before moving to Spring Garden in February the organization was running between homes. Anne Hagan, executive director of the choir, said the organization had a building at 32nd Street and Powelton Avenue for about 25 years before selling it to Drexel University in 2010. The choir purchased its current building from the Fraternal Order of Police in 2011. In anticipation of its move into the building, the organization started a girls choir.
“We started with a beta project last spring and the full programs started in the fall. We’ve had almost one full fiscal year. We have three choirs with about 80 girls,” Hagan said.
Another new undertaking by the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale has been a series of summer camps. The organization launched its first opera camp last summer. This year the organization will begin a choral camp for children in grades three through eight. Although the camps this summer will last for only a week, the choir plans to extend the time in the future, Hagan said.
“I think our summer camps are also going to be very interesting for people in the neighborhood,” Hagan said. “Unlike the boys choir and the girls choir, they are not audition-based. If you have a kid that loves to sing, come on by.”
The choir also plans to extend voice lessons to the community starting this fall.
“Voice lessons will be great for the neighborhood because there’s really nothing else like that in the area,” Hagan said. “It would be available for anybody who wants to sing.”
The associate music director and former boys choir member John Stroud said he believes the building is allowing the choir to become a more prominent source of musical education in the city.
“I was in third grade or fourth grade when I auditioned. Other than my music teacher, my family had never heard of it when I was little,” Stroud said. “It was kind of a really well-kept secret. Now a lot of people know about it and it’s really great.”