PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Their crisp green jackets, studied poise, and youthful voices have made this group of boys celebrities on all seven continents.
With talent and heart to match, the 160 members of the Keystone State Boychoir have dubbed themselves student ambassadors, and this year they are celebrating their 10-year anniversary with numerous concerts and a tour to South Africa. As of today, the Keystone State Boychoir remains the only boy choir to have toured all seven continents.
“I have to point out that even though the travel is great, the site-seeing is great, it really is still about the music,” said Steven Fisher, the associate music director for the Keystone State Boychoir.
“It’s about making music abroad and giving people abroad a different view of America or American youth,” Fisher said. “When the boys go and perform, they sing in the language of that country. It really makes an impression both on the boys and the audience, and it changes people’s lives.”
The boys of the Keystone State Boychoir don’t consider themselves just singers. For founding member Stuart Pasch, 19, music is a way to connect with people. He said his trip to Chile last summer truly convinced him of that.
“It was told to us that Chileans rarely give standing ovations, and we got a lot,” Pasch said. “It’s not so much about singing the music. It’s about feeling the music and letting the audience feel it with you.”
Pasch is the only singer associated with the boy choir to have toured all seven continents. His final trip was to Antarctica last December.
“I’m an only child, so to feel like I’m traveling with a bunch of brothers is really something special for me,” said Pasch.
Pasch recently graduated from the choir and is now enrolled at Wesleyan University where he is thinking of studying medicine. Like many other boys in the choir, singing may not be a career choice, but it has become an outlet for the boys to express themselves and find brotherhood.
Sam Pritchard,15, joined the choir when he was 8 and has only traveled to five continents, but he said that performing in Chile was an eye-opening experience for him.
“I have been able to experience connections no matter where I go. That is part of the reason I do what I do,” said Pritchard.
Steven Fisher and music director Joseph Fitzmartin started the choir in 2001 to teach young boys the art of music. Both directors had strong directing and composing experience and took pleasure in teaching those who wanted to learn.
From the beginning, both directors knew they were going up against other talented choirs in the area and hoped that the idea of touring worldwide would attract members. The choir started with 30 boys and has grown to nearly 160 members over the years.
KSB has performed internationally at the Manaus Opera House in Brazil, the Hanoi Opera House in Vietnam, and the Petronas Philharmonik Hall in Malaysia, as well as venues throughout Alaska, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, and Bulgaria. This summer, the choir boys will return to South Africa to celebrate their 10 year anniversary.
See PHOTOS of previous tours.
“It is an amazing experience to be living with these families abroad,” said Anne Odland, the choir’s vocal coach.
Eleven-year-old Jelanie McFadden’s goals are to be an opera singer one day, and he is looking forward to touring South Africa for the first time.
“Going to South Africa is an honor, he said. “Not all choir boys get that opportunity.”
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Reported by Crystal Cranmore, CBSPhilly.com