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65 years…and going strong!

Eduardo Caso
Jeffrey Haskell
John Davis
Julian Ackerley
 
 

In 1939, Eduardo Caso, "the tenor of the American airwaves," came to Tucson to rest and recuperate from the tuberculosis, which had interrupted his career. An Englishman, singer, and teacher, he carried to the West the dream of a boys choir rooted in the European tradition, but uniquely American in sound and repertoire. As Arizona's January sunshine restored his health, Caso gave back to Arizona, founding the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus.

First Christmas concert includes two girls
The first TABC concert, on Christmas Eve of 1939, was comprised of just eight boys whose tonal output was fortified by two girls from a high school glee club. Backed by individual parents, Caso was able to lead his tiny group through the first years of recruitment and growth until the community caught his excitement and the increasing support of sponsors assured TABC's continued existence.

In 1945, TABC was incorporated as a nonprofit educational organization. As the fame of the Tucson Boys Chorus spread, activities expanded to include national radio broadcasts, concert tours of Arizona and the Southwest, and early television appearances. After performing at the Chicago World's Fair in 1950, the boys were hailed by one reporter as "the finest walking advertisement a city ever had," and subsequent tours won hosts of admirers from coast to coast. Tucson's "Ambassadors in Levis" were gaining momentum.

Singing “Cowboys” enthrall European audiences
In the summer of 1955, Caso and 30 of his young "cowboys" swept through Europe winning ovations with every appearance. Their horizons expanded to Australia in 1960 with similar results. In 1963, the American ambassadors brought their music to all of America, singing at the White House tree-lighting ceremony.

New TABC Director takes helm
The boys suffered the loss of their mentor in 1965 when Caso passed away suddenly, almost on the eve of a live appearance on NBC's Bell Telephone Hour. Like true professionals, the boys decided, "the show must go on." Led by University of Arizona doctoral student Jeffrey Haskell, they performed to rave reviews.

Refusing to lose its spark with the loss of Caso, TABC flourished during the next 10 years under Haskell. In 1975, through the generosity and hard work of many supporters, alumni and choristers, the Chorus relocated to its new building on East Pima Street.

After a decade as Director, Haskell resigned to pursue other interests. Dr. John S. Davis, a former boy soprano under the tutelage of Eduardo Caso in 1947-49, was named Director. With his Chorus background, coupled with a doctorate in composition from the University of Arizona, Dr. Davis continued TABC's tradition of community representation and successful tours.

Julian Ackerley named director
In 1980, Dr. Julian Ackerley was named Director, bringing to the organization extensive teaching experience at all levels, including three degrees in music with emphasis on music education, choral direction and voice performance. Under Dr. Ackerley's leadership, TABC experienced a boom in membership and activities.

Historic 50th anniversary capped by tour to Soviet Union
During the 1989-90 season, TABC's historic 50th Anniversary was celebrated with an Alumni Reunion attended by more than 700 guests. That same year, the Chorus toured the Soviet Union, Germany, Austria and Poland.

Notable activities continued through the 1990s. In 1991, the Chorus returned to sing at the White House, performing for President & Mrs. Bush on NBC's "Today Show". In April 1993, TABC embarked on a sojourn "down under" performing in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.

European Tour includes a performance at the Vatican
In the early 1990s, the Chorus released a recording titled, "Holiday Treasures". In 1996, the group was featured at the NFL Experience as part of Super Bowl XXX. They also traveled to Spain, France and Italy on European Tour '96, including a performance in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. In 1996, TABC was acknowledged for its long-term excellence by receiving Arizona's highest arts honor, The Governor's Arts Award for Arts in Education. In late November 1996, the Chorus traveled to New York to participate in the 70th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In 1997, TABC was invited to create an all-classical CD for the Utah-based Sanctus label titled "Heaven Hath a Song." In 1998, with funding by Angel Charity for Children, Inc., the Chorus recorded the acclaimed CD entitled, "Inspiration: A collection of contemporary songs of enlightenment."

Tucson community celebrates 60th anniversary
The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus celebrated its 60th anniversary during the 1999-2000 season. The year was marked by community-wide media coverage, including a television documentary and city, state, and national proclamations.

In a historic tour, 2001: Orient Odyssey, the Touring Chorus ventured to Thailand, Vietnam, China, South Korea and Taiwan. That same year, the Chorus was named and performed as National Anchor Choir for the prestigious international singing festival, AmericaFest, held at St. John's University in Minnesota.

In 2004, the Chorus traveled to 27 cities in South Africa where inter-cultural learning was shared throughout the community through "letters from home" media reports. An acclaimed recording "Songs of the Saddle and South Africa" featured songs learned from the cultural tour.

TABC represented the United States at the World Vision 2007 International Children's Choir Festival in Seoul, South Korea and the Children of the World in Harmony, the 16th International Children's Choir and Performing Arts Festival in Hong Kong, China.

The Chorus has been additionally recognized with invitations and apprearances as the featured choir at the American Choral Directors Association conferences in Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles.

In March of 2008, the Touring Chorus visited Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Washington D.C. In July the Chorus completed a cultural exchange with the Isker Boys Choir in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and then joined the Young Men's Ensemble at the 2nd International Boy's amd Men's Choral Festival in the Czech Republic.

The strong traditions of the past and exciting opportunities of our modern society have paved the way for the Tucson Boys Chorus' continued success as a world-renowned professional touring group and an organization benefiting Tucson youth.

 

 

 

 

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