The Pasadena Boys Choir


A Publication of The Pasadena Boys Choir – America’s Oldest Boy Choir / Summer 2001

Summer Training in Northern California
Twenty-Six Years at San Domenico School


Several years ago a visitor to summer camp remarked that "The Pasadena Boys Choir has the most beautiful summer retreat of any boy choir in the world – including the summer home of the Vienna Choir Boys in the Austrian Alps." While you will not find any snow-peaked alps on the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo, the school is situated on 500 acres of sprawling hills in one of the most beautiful parts of Northern California.

With a long and distinguished history of its own, San Domenico was founded in 1850 at a time when California was still known as the Wild West. A spirited and energetic Dominican nun by the name of Sister Mary Goemare journeyed from her convent in Paris to assist the Dominican fathers in their work in Monterey, California. Upon her arrival, Sister Goemare wasted no time in opening a school to serve all the children in the community, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

But Monterey was not to be the final site of San Domenico. In 1884 the school moved for five brief years to Benicia, long forgotten by many as the first state capitol of California.

When the Dominican sisters moved their headquarters from Benicia to San Rafael in 1889 the school followed. Seventy-five years later the school would make one final move to its current 500-acre campus in the neighboring town of San Anselmo.

Today San Domenico School is recognized as one of the finest independent schools in the nation. It serves 370 day students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and another 130 day and boarding students in the upper school. Boys have been integrated into pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. In keeping with current research on the advantages of single gender education on classroom performance, San Domenico is committed to its tradition of providing single gender education to young women in grades nine through twelve.

The Pasadena Boys Choir Summer Camp
A Team in Training – Making Friends for Life

For a choirboy, Summer Camp in July and August is an eagerly anticipated event. It is one of the few times during the year when boys can come together in a relaxed environment, get to know each other better through daily activities and classes, and begin preparations for the coming season. It is a time for intense training and a time for making special friends.

Though camp life is considerably more relaxed for a choirboy than life during school term, it is now without structure and order. A typical weekday begins with rising at 7 a.m. Twenty-five minutes is provided for dressing, grooming, making one’s bed and preparing for room inspection. Points are awarded for these tasks and the highest point winners receive a special privilege at the end of the final week of camp.

Following room inspection, all boys report for a fifteen-minute callisthenic workout with the counselors before proceeding to the dining hall for a hot, all-you-can-eat breakfast.

After a leisurely breakfast, boys begin their morning instructional periods. The training program of The Pasadena Boys Choir is based on methods and techniques which are utilized by many of the outstanding European boy choir institutions. Because instruction time is limited during the school term, Summer Camp provides an excellent opportunity for boys to refine many of their technical skills. Included in the morning classes are music theory, ear training, solfege/sight reading, vocal production, public speaking, and stage movement. Given the residential nature of summer camp, more is accomplished during the camp period than two whole months during the school year. The boys work hard and play equally as hard.

Molding Character & Leadership through Musical Discipline
Training Today’s Boys – Tomorrow’s Humanitarians

Our dormitory at camp

History has taught us that great humanitarians throughout time have been individuals of compassion who have committed themselves to the cause of improving life and conditions for all people. As any teacher will affirm, these qualities are more easily cultivated during childhood when a youngster is impressionable and at his most formative period of development.

An evening section rehearsal

For over a quarter-century The Pasadena Boys Choir has been devoted to developing within each boys a sense of character, integrity, leadership, and self discipline. These attributes are nurtured through the study and discipline of music, performance, summer camp, and touring. We believe these are qualities which characterize and distinguish great leaders who have a regard for all people, a reverence for life, and a personal commitment to excel and achieve.

Practicing a stage formation An after-dinner soccer game Morning calisthenics
Weekend farmer's market Canoeing on the Russian River Afternoon arts and crafts


Copyright 2002
This page was last modified on 03 September 2004