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The Appleton Boychoir, founded in 1979, is celebrating 40 years in the 2018-2019 season. The choir has given musical training to thousands of boys, taking them all over the world and sending them on their way with stronger leadership skills, as well as a life-long love of singing. Many have gone on to successful careers in music, theatre, education, performance and teaching. Their travels inspired further studies of languages, music history, and peoples of the places they visited as members of the choir.

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Appleton Boychoir trip to Iceland in 2017

Our mission is to provide a life changing, musical experience for boys that builds:

  • Self Esteem
  • Leadership
  • Collaboration Skills
  • and Enriches the Community

The organization's objectives are to promote music literacy through education in theory and reading skills; expand the visibility of the choirs through high caliber tours and concerts locally and internationally; encourage family involvement and pride; and continue strengthening the financial viability of the organization.

Learn more about our performances and adventures.

Appleton Boychoir trip to Iceland in 2017
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OUR VALUES

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION

Our professional music staff is our foundation. They know the importance of theory development and the benefit of bringing in other musicians for a multi-dimensional experience.

EXCELLENCE IN MUSIC

The high performance standards for the boys require teamwork, discipline and hard work.

EXCELLENCE IN PERSONAL GROWTH

From a total experience standpoint, the boys build poise, confidence, self-esteem, and learn how to be a member of a performing team. Just as important, the boys also make friends and have fun!

GROWTH THROUGH ADVENTURE

We also value the spirit of boys and their sense of adventure. We support this by exposing them to a wide variety of music genres, camps, and tour experiences.

ENRICHING OUR COMMUNITY

While we provide an enriching experience for the boys, we also give back to our community by sharing our talents through local concerts and collaborations.

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OUR PROGRAM

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REPERTOIRE CHOIR

GRADES 3-4

Boys may enter the Repertoire Choir, the Appleton Boychoir training program at any point during the season, although auditions will be scheduled in December and May. This is a probationary period that will develop the basic skills required to rehearse and concertize in a PERFORMANCE CHOIR. Repertoire Choristers will learn how to read music, hold a choral score, rehearse as a member of a choral ensemble, sing music in harmony, blend, and balance with other choristers, perform on stage, memorize and perform musically selected folk songs and concert material and there is no time limit at this level. Boys will be promoted as individually ready, into the Ambassador Choir as determined by the conductors and assistants. This will generally take place after behavioral and musical benchmarks are met and following a minimum of one semester of training, although the standard is at least one year at this level.

Benchmarks for Promotion into Ambassador Choir:

  • Able to focus and engage in lessons/rehearsals without causing distraction
  • Able to be kind to others and contribute to the betterment of the ensemble
  • Able to match pitches and sing in tune
  • Able to memorize words and music for songs as selected by the conductors
  • Able to hold, follow and read a choral score to the level determined by the conductors
  • Able to perform on stage in an engaging way without distraction
  • Meets attendance requirements (2 absences/Semester permitted without parent meeting)
  • Completes successfully all assigned Music Literacy Assignments
  • Meets other criteria as determined individually by the conductors
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AMBASSADOR CHOIR

GRADES 4-8

Boys in the Ambassador Choir are our musical representatives to the world, our flagship choir. They continue to learn how to sing music in harmony, blend and balance with other choristers, perform on stage in more challenging situations, sight-read music to a higher level, and memorize and perform musically selected concert repertoire. They concertize regularly in the Fox Valley and travel nationally/internationally on a rotating basis. It is expected that Ambassador Choir boys behave in a manner that reflects positively on the choir and our community. It is also expected that they will commit to rehearsing and learning music to a very high level and engage audiences through the highest levels of performance etiquette (facial expression, posture, eye contact, following the conductor, expressiveness, body movement, etc.). It is also expected that boys attend ALL rehearsals and performances. Two rehearsals per semester may be missed (excused or unexcused), after which point there must be a parent meeting. Dress rehearsals and performances are MANDATORY. The conductor(s) of the Ambassador Choir may, at his or her discretion, make exceptions as is in the best interest of the choir.

Benchmarks for Ambassador Choir:

  • Able to focus and engage in lessons/rehearsal without causing distraction
  • Able to be kind to others and contribute to the betterment of the ensemble
  • Able to match pitches and sing in tune
  • Able to memorize words and music for songs as selected by the conductors
  • Able to read a choral score and simple two-part music
  • Able to hold a harmony or melody part against another singer
  • Able to perform in an engaging way on stage without distraction
  • Contributes musically toward the betterment of the ensemble
  • Positively represents the Appleton Boychoir locally and abroad
  • Attends Summer Camp (REQUIRED)
  • Meets attendance requirements (2 absences/Semester permitted without parent meeting)
  • Completes successfully all assigned Music Theory Assignments (1st and 2nd year students)
  • Attendance for recording sessions and tours is expected unless there are extenuating circumstances
  • Remains in the choir until his voice changes or until the end of the 8th grade year
  • Meets other criteria as determined individually by the conductors.
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CHAMBER SINGERS

ADVANCED CHOIR

ChamberSingers are auditioned from the larger Ambassador Choir by the beginning of October (sooner when possible). Singers will be selected based on core musicianship, vocal quality, tonal memory/reading ability, rehearsal skill, behavior and leadership. Any boy from Ambassador Choir will be welcome to demonstrate these skills and audition for the ChamberSingers. There is no maximum number; however, this will be a very high level choir.

The ChamberSingers are not only expected to follow all choir benchmarks and promotion protocol for the Ambassador Choir, but this is an opportunity for boys who have exceptional skills and an outstanding commitment to Appleton Boychoir.

The Appleton Boychoir ChamberSingers will be a THURSDAY ONLY choir.

An important aspect of the ChamberSingers is that they must attend rehearsals for both Ambassador Choir on Monday AND ChamberSingers on Thursday.

Boys only available once each week for rehearsal, must come on Monday and will not be eligible for the ChamberSingers. (Boys who miss regularly for music/drama/sports conflicts at their schools will only have the option of the Monday choirs).

The ChamberSingers represent Appleton Boychoir for special programs such as the Nutcracker with the Makaroff Youth Ballet and Fox Valley Symphony, Fox Cities Building for the Arts Young Audiences Series, as well as other events throughout the season.

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MEET OUR STAFF & BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Dr. Kevin Meidl

Artistic Director; Ambassador Choir and ChamberSingers Director

Dr. Kevin Meidl is conductor and Artistic Director with the Appleton Boychoir. He is music department chair and director of choirs at Appleton West High School and a founding director of the Renaissance School for the Arts. In addition, he is founder and principal conductor of the Badger State Girl Choir. He is past president of the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association, and past president of the North Central American Choral Directors Association where he was responsible for the professional development of choral directors across the upper Midwest. He has studied conducting with Constantina Tsolainu, Kate Tamarkin, Robert Harris and John Paynter. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a doctor of musical arts degree from Boston University.

As an international adjudicator and guest conductor, this season he will conduct local ensembles and present workshops in Peru, Estonia, and China. Recently he guest conducted several choirs in Estonia including the famed Radio Girls’ Choir of Tallinn. This summer he will present a series of workshops for teachers, and conduct choirs in Beijing, China including the Army Choir and various international youth singing ensembles. His 2017-2019 conducting schedule includes performances in Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Puerto Rico, French Martinique and Greece. He is currently working on a major Boychoir recording project with Japanese cellist Eru Matsumoto and Grammy nominated folk-rock artist (and former Appleton Boychoir singer) Cory Chisel with an anticipated CD release in the fall of 2018.

Choirs under his direction have performed for fourteen state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, the American Guild of Organists, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, the Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association, with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Fox Valley Symphony, the Pamiro Opera Company, and the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra. The Badger State Girl Choir presented a solo concert in New York’s famed Carnegie Hall in April of 2014 for a nearly full house. Under his direction, the Appleton Boychoir performed in the renowned Rudolfinum Hall in Prague, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, the historic Sheldon Theatre in St. Louis, and many other major venues around the world. His choirs have recorded a dozen albums including five with Delta Records and one produced and directed by Gunther Schuller featuring the music of Alec Wilder. They have performed in over thirty countries around the world; for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France and for Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

Kevin Meidl has conducted all-state choirs and regional honor choirs throughout the country and is in demand as a guest clinician and adjudicator. Most recently, he conducted Minnesota All-State Boychoir, the 1,000 voice South Dakota All-State Chorus and the Wisconsin All-State Children's Choir. As a speaker he has presented on a variety of subjects on national conventions programs for NAfME and ACDA and has delivered keynote addresses at professional music gatherings across Midwest including recently the NDSU Music Education Symposium in Fargo where he will return in October as guest festival conductor. NextDirection: the national conference for high school students considering careers in choral music and the International Youth Symposium on Choral Music (Altötting, Germany) are among his professional initiatives. Meidl has written dozens of articles for professional journals and newsletters and is a contributing author on the newly released book "Brothers Sing On! Conducting the Tenor-Bass Choir." His research on scheduling and performance-based music classes have been presented in every state across the country and for the NAfME national conference in Phoenix (1998). Currently Meidl is researching the impact of WCDA on Wisconsin’s choral music as seen through the eyes of its presidents.

Meidl is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the International Federation for Choral Music, NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, the Voice Care Network, the Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Pi Kappa Lambda. He was selected as secondary educator of the year for the Appleton Public Schools in 1995 and received the Helble Outstanding Teacher Award in 2008. His biography is listed in recent publications of Who's Who in America, Who's Who among America's Teachers, Who's Who in American Education and several other honorary publications.

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Anna Frato

Repertoire Choir Director

Anna Frato has served as a director of Repertoire Choir since 2016. Her sixteen-year music career includes teaching choral and music classes in Greenville Middle School in Greenville, Wisconsin; teaching choir, piano and general music in Buddy Taylor Middle School and Matanzas High School in Palm Coast, Florida; and directing the Beginning Choir at The Center of Young Creative People in Izhevsk, Russia.

Mrs. Frato received her first music training from a children’s music school in her native town of Izhevsk, Russia and proceeded to continue her studies, earning an Associate Degree from the Udmurt Republic College of Music and attending classes in choral education at the Ural Mussorgsky State Conservatory in Yekaterinburg. In 1997 Mrs. Frato moved to the United States where she graduated summa cum laude from Stetson University with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Ithaca College.

Mrs. Frato’s additional experience includes directing the Peruvian community choral ensemble “Canticorum” in Miami from 1999 through 2000 and conducting the Flagler All-County Honor Elementary Choir in Palm Coast, Florida in 2008. She currently teaches private voice lessons at Appleton West High School and serves as a co-founder and a co-director of the Hortonville Area Community Choir.

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Carole Rajkovich

Ambassador Choir and ChamberSingers Director

Carole earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree at UW-Oshkosh. She did post-graduate work in vocal music performance at Indiana University and received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Marian College.

Teaching choral and general music to students in grades 6-12 in the Brillion Public School District has been the focus of her professional life as a music educator. She is known for growing the Brillion Music program significantly in her forty years there, and she introduced musical theatre to that school district.

She has directed 40 musicals, show choirs, concert choirs, and a large variety of solo-ensemble literature to many students over the years. Carole also conducts the Forever Praise Choir at Trinity Lutheran in Brillion.

Carole became involved in the Appleton Boychoir in 2005 as a voice coach when her son was in the Ambassador Choir.  She then accepted a conducting position with the Concert Choir. She now serves as an Ambassador Choir Conductor and assists with the ChamberSingers.

Although Mrs. Rajkovich has recently retired from her teaching position in Brillion, her passion for choral music is as strong as ever. She is thrilled to continue working with young boys who love to sing, and she hopes that her enthusiasm for singing will inspire a similar love in the boys!

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Jon Riehle

Collaborative Pianist

A native of Appleton, Jon is a graduate of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, where he studied organ and harpsichord with Miriam Clapp Duncan and George Damp and was a recipient of the LaVahn K. Maesch Prize Scholarship in Organ. He began at First Congregational UCC as an organist after serving for twenty years as an organist and worship coordinator at his family’s church, Mount Olive Lutheran of Appleton. He played a key role in overseeing the design, installation, and dedication of the church’s 38 rank mechanical action Dobson Pipe Organ.

Active as a choral accompanist and conductor, Jon has become well known to audiences for his work with such diverse groups as Appleton Boychoir, AAL Choir, Appleton MacDowell Male Chorus, Chaminade Women’s Chorus, and the UW-Fox Chorale. Families of nearly every faith group have turned to him to provide music for weddings, funerals, anniversaries, and other milestones of life. He has welcomed the opportunity to give back to the community musically by participating in benefit performances for Habitat for Humanity, Outagamie Museum, Fox Valley Arts Alliance, Peace Project, Harbor House, Community Clothes Closet, as well as others. Professional affiliations include the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association, the Hymn Society of America, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Professional Music Fraternity, and life membership in the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

In his spare time, Jon enjoys reading, gardening, taking long walks, hacking his own computer (out of frustration) and waiting for Godot.

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Kaitlyn VandeVen

Collaborative Pianist

Katie is a private piano instructor offering lessons to students of any age and ability level in the greater Appleton, WI area. Kaitlyn is an enthusiastic teacher and pianist with degrees in Piano Performance, Piano Pedagogy, and Music Education (K-12). She is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, Wisconsin Music Teachers Association, and Fox Valley Music Teachers Association. Kaitlyn believes that the primary objective of music making is expression, which can be achieved by a beginning pianist, a concert performer, and every level of ability in between. Finding a way to express oneself musically is something every person can benefit from.

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Abby Swaagman

Performance and Community Outreach Director

Abby Swaagman is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire where she received her Bachelor of Music Education degree in choral and general music. She teaches elementary general music in the Appleton Area School District. Abby has pioneered the Boychoir After School Program allowing us to provide boys from Appleton Schools with an abbreviated Boychoir experience.

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Kimberly Spielbauer

Principal Collaborative Pianist

Kimberly Spielbauer is a 2009 graduate from UW-Oshkosh with a Bachelor's of Music Education (choral/general) with piano emphasis - studying under Ms. Beverly Hassel and Dr. Eli Kalman. She began accompanying soloists, ensembles, and church services as an early teen and flourished over the years - including choral directing (adult/children), choral accompanying, freelance music, and music director (at UWO Newman Center for five years and St. Mary and St. John parishes in Menasha for seven years). During college and post-graduation, she also has directed the Oshkosh homeschool choir, Oshkosh VSA Choir for adults with special needs, taught general music at St. Mary's (Greenville), and taught private piano lessons. She has been married to her husband Aaron for 11 years. They have five children, which they homeschool, and their oldest son, Charlie, has sung with the Boychoir since 2016!

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Chairman: Ryan Downs, President, GLK Foods, LLC; Boychoir graduate
Vice Chair: Vince Biskupic, Outagamie County Judge; Father of Boychoir graduates
Treasurer: Alexander Tyink, Fork Farms; Boychoir graduate
Secretary: Anne Jones, Lawrence University; Mother of past Boychoir graduate

Members:
Timothy Hanna, Mayor, City of Appleton
Austin Boncher, Appleton Boychoir Founder
Zay Lenaburg, Celebration Lutheran School, Mother of Henry Lenaburg, Ambassador Choir
Abraham Liebeskind, father of William Liebeskind, Boychoir graduate and Zachary Liebeskind, Ambassador Choir
Walt Rugland, Thrivent Financial, Retired; Grandfather of Henry Lenaburg, Ambassador Choir
Daniel Flaherty, Godfrey & Kahn, Father of Boychoir graduates

Founders:
Austin Boncher
James Heiks
Frank Rippl: 1947-2018

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