The Choral Scholar program, open to all students in all forms, is designed to develop the “complete choral singer,” and is an approach unique to St. Andrew’s among American boarding schools. The program is based on an expanded version of Voice for Life, created by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in London, England, an institution with which St. Andrew’s School is affiliated. Features of the Choral Scholar program include:
- individual vocal instruction for each Choral Scholar;
- individual and group instruction in music theory, aural skills, sight-singing and music history;
- the opportunity to perform frequently, in both concert and in liturgical settings, on campus and throughout the mid-Atlantic region;
- both national and international tours, and recordings in alternate years, and the opportunity to perform in venues such as the White House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Vienna), Bratislava Conservatory (Slovakia), the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City), and St. Paul’s Church, K Street (Washington, D.C.). Recent tours have taken the Choral Scholars to Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic; Italy and Croatia; and twice to the southeastern U.S., including performances in Upperville, Va., Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and West Palm Beach, Fla.;
- exposure to the finest choral literature from the past and present. The Choral Scholar repertoire comprises both larger works, such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Monteverdi’s Magnificat, Bach cantatas, and selections from Handel’s Messiah, as well as sacred and secular music from the Renaissance to the present day, including arrangements of popular songs written especially for Choral Scholars.
Students enter the program with all degrees of music training and experience, ranging from eager and earnest beginners to those with great experience from choir schools and other school and church music programs throughout the country. Students progress through the program at their own rate by attaining markers—both of the RSCM and additional, more advanced levels—in vocal production, music theory, sight-singing and aural skills, such that there are always specific goals toward which to work. A student’s beginning level is determined either by transferring into the program from another RSCM institution (levels attained at any RSCM school or church are honored at St. Andrew’s) or by taking a placement test upon arrival at St. Andrew’s.
Choral Scholars meets for four class periods per week for academic credit. Roughly half these periods involve rehearsals with the full ensemble, while the other half are divided by level, with the two more advanced and two beginning levels each rehearsing separately twice a week. This pattern serves to keep the program unified, while giving the upper-level singers a chance to work on additional music, and the other levels regular time to receive additional instruction and training.
This aim in developing the "complete choral singer," involving both exposure to a range of music and of performance experiences as well as individual growth as singers and sight-readers, hopes to cultivate a lifelong ability and love for music-making. Everything we do is designed to ensure both the ensemble and individual singers grow as readers and interpreters of music. Graduates of the Choral Scholar program often go on to sing in some of the finest collegiate and liturgical ensembles in the country.
In addition to the Choral Scholars program, The Noxontones is a popular a cappella ensemble of roughly 14-16 singers that rehearses twice weekly in the evenings and performs a number of times throughout the year. The focus of Noxontones is the American collegiate a cappella literature, including arrangements done especially for the group by their director. Noxontones is open to students in the IV, V, and VI Forms, by audition.
Private voice lessons for any student are also available as scheduling allows.