It started with just 20 boys and a $50 donation from the Woman’s Club of Raleigh. But humble beginnings never daunted the Raleigh Boychoir’s vision.
Thomas E. Sibley founded the choir in 1968 to give boys with unchanged voices a chance to learn and perform some of the world’s greatest choral music. Sibley believed a choir could help boys develop talent and character – traits that would serve them for a lifetime. Sibley, who worked as music coordinator for the Raleigh public schools as well as organist and choir master at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Raleigh, directed the Raleigh Boychoir for 40 years. He retired in 2008.
Because of Sibley’s early efforts to establish the Raleigh Boychoir in the local arts community, the brand-new choir held its first holiday performance in December 1968. Every year since then the choir has performed the “Carols of Christmas” concert, which to this day is a popular Yuletide tradition in the capital city.
Robert E. Unger succeeded Sibley as Artistic Director from 2008 to 2014 and became integral to the choir’s success and development. Unger previously conducted the Appleton Boychoir in Appleton, WI. Under his leadership, the Raleigh Boychoir steadily increased choristers as he implemented the scholar program, which connected young men to the choir following their graduation. Dedicated to the highest standards of musical achievement, Mr. Unger led the choir on tours to London, Appleton, WI, Charleston, SC, and Baltimore, MD, performing to great acclaim in Boychoir festivals in Baltimore, Appleton and Raleigh. He is currently the Director of Music Ministry at Resurrection Lutheran Church and Schools in Cary, NC.
The Raleigh Boychoir’s third Artistic Director, Jeremy C. Tucker has held the position from 2014 to today. A native of Wilson, NC, Mr. Tucker holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education, is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, and was selected the 2015 NC North Central Teacher of the Year. Mr. Tucker’s tenure has focused on collaboration with other talented performing groups. In his first year the Boychoir performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Carolina Ballet, North Carolina Master Chorale, UNC Symphony Orchestra and hosted several elementary and middle school choirs. Mr. Tucker led the Choir in a performance in New York’s Carnegie Hall, a concert tour across Ireland & Northern Ireland, and has since led a tour of Washington, D.C. in June 2017, the Mountain’s to the Sea Tour in 2018 and a 2019 tour to the Big Apple, New York City, singing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
The choir’s first rehearsal space was in a house on Glenwood Avenue that served as a temporary home for the Woman’s Club of Raleigh. When the choir outgrew that space, rehearsals moved to Hayes Barton Baptist Church and then, a few years later, to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
In 1989, the choir purchased its first permanent rehearsal facility, which is still used today. Located on Ridge Road, the building had previously been used as a church and a home. The Raleigh Boychoir made extensive renovations to the facility in 2011 to make it more accessible, functional and visually appealing. The renovations also made the facility a perfect rental choice for small choral or instrumental groups, music teachers, book clubs and the like.
Today, the Raleigh Boychoir holds fast to many of the same traditions that were established more than 40 years ago. Yet the choir continues to evolve and grow with each generation of boys it serves. Highly regarded in the arts community, the Raleigh Boychoir maintains the same vibrancy, professionalism and quality that have set it apart since its beginnings in 1968.