By Ellen Berman Fix
Hot summer days and high humidity can make many Atlantans sweat. Imagine enduring that kind of weather — without air conditioning — while performing on stage under hot lights and singing your heart out before thousands of fans.
That’s exactly what 29 members of the Buckhead-based Georgia Boy Choir did recently on a 17-day international concert tour of China.
The tour, which included 25 scheduled performances (plus a few “drive-by” singings, according to choir director David R. White), capped the inaugural year of the 100-member choir, which holds its practices at Northwest Presbyterian Church on Northside Drive.
Director and conductor White, who for eight years conducted the older Atlanta Boy Choir, says he built the new choir from “absolute zero, organizationally.” About 55 former members of the Atlanta Boy Choir joined him to launch the Georgia Boy Choir last August.
Claire Mercer said her sons Jake, 15, and Evan, 12, have benefited from their time with the young choir.
“It’s such a pleasure to hear them in concert,” she said. “Even though it’s hard work, they thoroughly enjoy what they do.”
Jake agrees. “The music we perform is a lot different from what you hear on the radio and it’s a really amazing thing that we do,” he said. “I guess you could say it’s beautiful.”
White and executive director Adisa Nickerson, who had held the same position at the Atlanta Boy Choir, gathered singers aged from pre-school to high school for the new choir. After rehearsing twice or more each week and holding three weekend retreats, they prepared a repertoire of songs from various cultures.
Members of the Georgia Boy Choir who went to China
Aaron Jones, Abinay John, Caleb Artis, Charlie Pike, Devin LeMaitre, Duane White, Eric Sturniolo, Evan Mercer, Garrison Ferrell, Harrison Citron, Ian Laurie, Jake Mercer, Jerome Hough, Jesse Rhodes, Joe Sokohl, Keegan McDaniel, Langston Maunula, Marc Laroussini, Mason Gordon, Mason Moran, Michel Vazirani, Myles Laurie, Pierce Rodriguez, Ruben Roy, Shawn Lunde, Sounak Das, Thomas McKean, William White and Zachary Leffew
The group left for China on May 29. “When I tell the boys I want them to travel, they start dreaming [about] where they want to go,” White said. “You’ve got to have a dream to have a dream come true, but you have to chart the path to get there.”
The path took the troupe on a 1,000-mile trek this summer from Beijing to the cities of Xian, Cheng, Kunming and Shanghai. Guests of a Chinese elementary school, the Georgia boys were treated like celebrities, White said.
One highlight, White said, was a trip to see the “terracotta warriors,” life-sized statues of soldiers that had been buried and were discovered in 1975. The boys also huffed and puffed up the Great Wall of China.
Evan, who attends The Lovett School, found the most fun was singing for Chinese audiences. “It was an amazing experience,” he said. “When we sang Chinese songs, the concerts were very interactive.”
By “interactive,” Evan refers to the unbridled enthusiasm shown by the Chinese audiences.
His brother Jake, who had traveled while a member of the Atlanta Boy Choir, was prepared for the excitement that foreign visits generate, but even he was surprised by the enthusiasm of the Chinese.
“At one point, they came backstage and snapped photos of us with their cell phones for thirty minutes,” he said. “It was sort of like we were with the paparazzi.”