Watching a performance of the highly regarded Ann Arbor Boychoir, the fresh-scrubbed faces and angelic voices could cause you to think that these boys are always perfect– but they’re not. It takes a ton of work and patience to wrangle a group of preteen boys into a choir that delivers a professional quality performance with a widely varied repertoire. One of the secrets to success is the leadership position of Head Chorister, a long tradition in boychoirs. This year, that role with the Ann Arbor Boychoir is filled by Keiran Grossman, 14, currently in his fourth year with the choir. According to Dr. Tom Strode, the choir’s founder and director, “Kieran was appointed this year because he exemplifies the qualities we look for in an outstanding chorister: musical excellence, focus, vocal tone, intelligence and diligence in learning the large amount of music we prepare for our performances.”
Leading By Example
Kieran sets the tone – eyes focused, music memorized, no poking, prodding or chatting. Practice hours are long, especially as a performance nears, and these boys as young as 8-years-old can get fidgety and distracted. That’s where Kieran comes in. "Setting a good example is probably my biggest responsibility,” he says. “On the (extremely rare) occasion that Dr. Strode (the director) is unable to come to the rehearsal, the Head Chorister is also in charge of leading the choir.”
Kieran’s disability, Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, affects balance, motor coordination and gait. He uses a chair to get through long rehearsals and scouts new venues ahead of time for obstacles. But finding solutions is something he is used to. His mother, Jeralyn, says “he has loved music and singing since he was a toddler. He sings with the school choir and takes voice lessons as well.” When he’s not leading his fellow choristers, Kieran is fascinated with computer programming and is exploring television and film production. He also enjoys reading and solo singing and attends Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter.
Ambassadors to the community
Founded in 1986, the Ann Arbor Boychoir’s mission is to provide valuable vocal training, sophisticated repertoire and performance opportunities for musically gifted boys from ages 8-18, as well as cultural enrichment for the community. Recent performances have included caroling at the Christmas Tree Lighting at Henry Ford Museum and the Holiday Pops Program with the Ann Arbor Symphony. They encourage all boys with a love of music to become part of their choral ensembles. Kieran says he “loves the regular performance opportunities,” and has “learned so much about music in these past few years because of the Boychoir of Ann Arbor’s challenging repertoire!”
In May 2014, he went with the choir to the Baltimore Boychoir Festival. “It lasted for three days, and choirs from all over the United States came. It was cool to see how unique each Boychoir was in their song selection and performance style. We also got to visit famous places in Baltimore, such as the Baltimore Aquarium. I had lots of fun!”