Founded by a multifaceted visionary encompassing social work, academia, community activism, and civic leadership, the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC) has successfully harmonized social justice and music education on a global scale. As the music director and principal conductor of the Premier Choir, Kenneth Griffith, ’12, is focused on aligning his music curriculum with meaningful discussions on social justice and the empowerment of young singers.
“We harness the power of music to connect to our city’s diverse communities, cultivate empathy, and inspire social inquiry. The idea is that our singers use music as a vehicle for social change, as a catalyst for social change. Part of our process, in addition to trying to sound our best, is to also teach singers to use their voice,” said Griffith.
The BCC is a well-known and respected organization based in Boston, Mass., that provides choral music education and performance opportunities for young people. The comprehensive music education program includes vocal training, music theory, and performance experiences. It brings together youth from various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in choirs and perform at concerts and events in Boston and beyond.
“All of our seasons are surrounded around a theme. We’ve covered things in the past like the climate emergency and women’s rights. This year, our theme is titled 'True Colors,' and it's all about LGBTQI+ stories. We’re having conversations about what it means to be a place of radical hospitality for people in that community to uplift their stories and to celebrate the triumph of the community,” said Griffith.
Among the numerous performances during the scheduled season, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert shines as one of the most prominent. On January 15, 2024, the BCC will take the stage at Symphony Hall to celebrate “love’s victory is a victory for us all.” The concert is open to the public.
“This season is personal to me as well because I am married in Massachusetts. At the end of our season, we’re going to be coming up on 20 years since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. It feels like something really monumental,” said Griffith. “For our younger singers, we’re focusing on allyship and being an upstander versus a bystander. How do you learn to love and appreciate yourself, to know who you are and then extend that into the community? How do they show up in that?”
As a vocal performance student at Capital, Griffith found himself surrounded by talent he hoped to emulate as a professional.
“My teachers at Capital really did prepare me to go into the world and be successful. I wasn’t necessarily the best student, but the community of teachers was very supportive. They understood me as a person; provided and created a space in which I felt I was able to grow and take risks,” said Griffith. “I think daily about that community and what I’ve learned there as a music student. The support I got at Capital was really instrumental in making me feel comfortable. I think it was a place that allowed me to try.”
After Capital, Griffith went on to earn his Master of Music in Choral Conducting at Bard College. He combined the skills he learned at both institutions to create his own conducting style.
“I combined my learnings from Lynda Hasseler at Capital and James Bagwell at Bard together in a style that I have made my own. I went from Bard College to teaching at a prep school in North Andover, Massachusetts, where I was building their program,” said Griffith. “Even though I was a vocal performance major, I was comfortable working with their ensembles because I had spent so much time with instrumentalists at Capital.”
Before moving to BCC, Griffith was the director of choral and chamber music at the Brooks School.
“I always felt like my classrooms were some of the most diverse places on campus at any given moment and it was great. All these kids from different backgrounds coming together and connecting. There was such a great understanding and care for each other within the classroom. That’s where empathy comes in and I start to explore what music’s role is in that environment,” said Griffith. “By the time BCC reached out to me, I realized I was already living the mission artistically.”
For more information about the Conservatory of Music at Capital, visit https://www.capital.edu/academics/conservatory-of-music/.