We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Bach used young male voices in his oratorios and cantatas because women were not allowed to sing in church. Composers from Gustav Mahler (Third Symphony) to Leonard Bernstein (Chichester Psalms) have also taken advantage of the fine-toned harmonies and purity of sound inherent in voices that have not yet started to snap, crackle, or pop. The Boys Choir of Harlem adds a sociological dimension to this musical tradition: Founded in the basement of a Harlem Church in 1968 by Dr. Walter Turnbull, the organization was originally designed to offer a character-building musical education in what was a mostly impoverished community. Since its inception, the choir has become a veritable institution, supporting not only the original boys’ version, but also a girls’ choir and a 500-student school. You’re likely to hear them sing Handel, Bach, Copland, and Ellington, among others, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. $20-$65. (202) 467-4600. (T.R. Goldman)