VOICES Boston was founded as Performing Artists at Lincoln School (PALS Children’s Chorus) in 1990 by Johanna Hill Simpson, with parents at W.H. Lincoln School, a public school in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was designed as a privately funded, after-school program for Lincoln students, providing training in choral singing, dance and drama.
PALS began with 15 children in grades three through five. Within three years, it had grown to 26. Its artistic growth, coupled with increased student interest, led to the founding of a more advanced ensemble. And a year later, Circle of PALS, a singing circle for younger students, was formed
During her tenure, Johanna Hill Simpson built relationships with leading performing organizations that are still strong today, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cantata Singers, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Pops and Boston Early Music Festival, among others.
After Simpson’s retirement, Alysoun Kegel extended PALS membership to children beyond Lincoln School, leading to growth in diversity and size. By 2010, PALS had tripled the number of children participating. At the same time, the organization had established its reputation for performing excellence and offering a unique combination of training in singing, drama and dance.
In 2011, Andy Icochea Icochea moved from Vienna to become the Artistic Director of PALS Children’s Chorus. His work included introducing a more systematic vocal training framework, creating an intermediate ensemble, and expanding the training choruses. Icochea Icochea led the choruses on their first national and international tours to New Jersey, New York City, Montreal, Vienna, and Beijing. As a result, PALS built relationships with choirs at home and abroad, and hosted singers from Montreal, Canada and Valencia, Spain.
To reflect its broader reach and national and international collaborations, and in anticipation of its 25th anniversary, PALS was renamed VOICES Boston in 2014. In 2015, Steven Lipsitt became the Artistic Director and led VOICES Boston in his first successful season, with 6 outside collaborations and 4 VOICES Boston performances, including our annual operetta. Steven Lipsitt continues many VOICES Boston traditions including multiple outside collaborations, the year end Opertta, and regional tours. In 2018, VOICES Boston was invited to participate in the Crescent City Choral Festiva in New Orleans, Louisiana, working with acclaimed conductor and composer Andrea Ramsey, and sang with choirs from around the country.
Following many years of performing in Boston Lyric Opera’s professional productions, BLO and VOICES Boston established an official partnership in 2016. Our collaborative education program includes audition workshops for College bound high school students, audition workshops for middle school students, a weeklong “Create Your Own Opera” summer camp. When not performing in the BLO operas, VOICES Boston singers are also the youngest invitees to attend the BLO final dress rehearsals.
With singing at its core and training in dance and drama, VOICES Boston changes the lives of its children, building confidence, discipline, leadership and a love of music that lasts a lifetime.