Biennial Conference 2010: Haitian Boy Choir Comes to Texas!

New York, NY—The National Association of Episcopal Schools is delighted to announce that Les Petits Chanteurs, Haiti’s premiere boy choir, will be coming to San Antonio and Austin, Texas for an eight-day visit and concert tour, including singing a nationally televised performance of the national anthem at the November 17 San Antonio Spurs game and participation as featured guests at the Opening Eucharist and closing worship service at Biennial Conference 2010 on November 18 and 20. The upcoming visit and tour is an opportunity for Episcopal schools in the United States to stand in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters and highlight the critical importance of continued support for the people of Haiti.

Choir to Sing the National Anthem at San Antonio Spurs Game on Wednesday, November 17

In addition to participating in Biennial Conference 2010, on the evening of Wednesday, November 17 the choir will sing the national anthem of the United States at the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls game, a performance which will be nationally broadcast live on ESPN. Tickets for the "Episcopal Schools’ Night" game are available at a special rate and portion of each ticket will be contributed to Haiti support. Use this PDF form to order your San Antonio Spurs tickets.

San Antonio and Austin Schools to Host Les Petits Chanteurs

From November 13–17, the choir will complete a series of concerts in Austin and San Antonio organized by Episcopal schools and churches, including the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas’ Diocesan Children’s Choir Festival to be held on Sunday, November 14 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Choir members will be hosted by Episcopal families in each community.

A special thanks goes out to the NAES schools in Austin and San Antonio who have enthusiastically organized the choir’s tour and home stays; and to the Reverend P. Roger Bowen, Pere Kesner Ajax, and Pere David Cesar.

The Story of Les Petits Chanteurs

Les Petits Chanteurs is the name given to the boys choir of Holy Trinity Music School (Ecole de Musique Ste. Trinité) in Port-au-Prince, Haïti. The choir was founded in 1960. The school (Ecole de Musique Ste. Trinité) has in the past maintained (and is now rebuilding) an enrollment of about a thousand students and a teaching staff of 45 full and-part-times professionals. It is located on the grounds of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti; and at St. James Episcopal Church in Petionville. By audition, boys may join Les Petits Chanteurs at age seven. The choir accepts young students from elementary schools throughout the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

Before the earthquake, the Holy Trinity complex in Port-au-Prince encompassed three distinctly separate entities: the Elementary School (pre-Kindergarten through grade six); the Technical School (high school and above); and the Music School.

Les Petits Chanteurs first visited the United States in 1984 and returned in 1989, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, and now in 2010. They have sung extensively in the United States, including concerts at Episcopal churches and schools and at venues such as the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The choir will be coming to Texas having toured recently in Virginia and Tennessee as a way to highlight the continuing needs of the people of Haiti and the community of Holy Trinity, and to offer thanks to all those who have supported Haiti.

Les Petits Chanteurs After the Earthquake

Holy Trinity Cathedral and its schools were destroyed in the January earthquake. Les Petits Chanteurs lost four choir members in the quake. Undaunted, the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti immediately turned the cathedral grounds into a tent city and safe haven for those without shelter. In the weeks and months that have followed, the music school and Les Petits Chanteurs have striven to bring the gift of music to their community, rescuing previous instruments from the rubble, reorganizing Holy Trinity’s educational programs, and continuing the music school and choir.

At present, children attend elementary school from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Music school staff members provide basic instruction for the elementary school in general music classes in music initiation, voice, winds, brass, strings and piano. The Music School operates during the afternoon and on Saturdays, and includes various beginner, intermediate and advance orchestras and ensembles, and Les Petits Chanteurs for boys and young men. Since the earthquake they have participated in many concerts in the ‘tent cities.’

Episcopal Schools, Les Petits Chanteurs, and Haiti

In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Episcopal schools in the United States immediately reached out to assist the Haitian community and the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. Episcopal schools in the United States provided critical aid to Episcopal Relief and Development and to the Haiti Partnership Program to support relief effort and to continue or initiate sustained partnership support for Episcopal schools in Haiti.

NAES is grateful to the many NAES schools that have contributed to a special fund to underwrite the costs of the choir’s Texas tour and make the choir’s visit possible. To make a donation to the Les Petits Chanteurs Challenge Grant Appeal, use this PDF form.

A Special Focus Session on Haiti will be held at Biennial Conference 2010 on Wednesday, November 18 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.