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Harvard Greets Harlem Boys Choir With Fanfare

Members of the Harlem Boys Choir enjoy refreshments at their welcoming ceremony in Loker Commons yesterday. They will perform in Sanders Theater Friday night.
Members of the Harlem Boys Choir enjoy refreshments at their welcoming ceremony in Loker Commons yesterday. They will perform in Sanders Theater Friday night.
By Hana R. Alberts, Crimson Staff Writer

Three trumpets bedecked with crimson-colored flags played a melodious flourish at Memorial Hall last night to greet 45 ecstatic boys newly arrived from the Big Apple.

This unusual welcome kicked off a four-day residency, during which singers from the Boys Choir of Harlem will inhabit Harvard’s Houses, take classes from top professors and perform Friday at Sanders Theater with undergraduate musicians.

Their soon-to-be-hosts, selected by the Office for the Arts (OFA) out of male undergraduate volunteers, lined up, forming a virtual red carpet for the boys as they lugged their bags into Loker Commons. There they celebrated the arrival with a pizza feast.

To the dismay of some ailing choir members, Turnbull announced that those singers who were recovering from fevers should avoid drinking soda.

“Water, water, water, water!” he exclaimed. “You must clean the body and make sure it’s in good shape.”

While the healthy ones murmured their assent, those banned from sweeter drinks groaned good-naturedly.

This unique arrival is the result of months of planning by the OFA, which Turnbull said will give these New Yorkers a aste of life in Cambridge.

“So often, we get stuck in our regular environment,” Turnbull said. “It’s important to see the rest of the world.”

But as these boys discovered the wonders of Loker’s pool tables and iMac computers, it seemed that Cambridge could wait.

The electronic announcement board in Loker flashed a neon message of welcome. The boys eagerly stared and pointed as their names scrolled across the screen.

Soon it was time for bed, as their student hosts led them back to their rooms throughout campus.

But they would not sleep for long—they must finish their dining-hall breakfast by 8 a.m. this morning to start on their packed schedule of classes, rehearsals and activities.

The young choristers said they can’t wait to be Harvard students for the next few days.

“I’m just looking forward to the week,” said Antoine D. Dolberry, a high school sophomore who said he plans to apply to Harvard. “I want to learn from this and have fun.”

Eighth grader Jermaine J. Lewis said he wants to get a feel for life at Harvard.

“I want to learn its history, what it’s about and what activities it has,” he said.

Although the choir performs over 100 shows a year, this is their first time staying in dorms—because, Turnbull said, “I didn’t want to let the kids out of my sight.”

It’s also different, Turnbull said, because, after all, “it’s Harvard.”

“It’s…being able to have access to the professors, and collaborating musically,” he said.

—Staff writer Hana R. Alberts can be reached at

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