Cincinnati Boychoir and Cincinnati May Festival Announce Historic Alliance

New Strategic Alliance to Achieve Programming and Access Goals for Both Organizations

Boychoir Programs to Move to Tuition-Free Model

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CINCINNATI, OH (April 30, 2024)—The Cincinnati Boychoir and Cincinnati May Festival have announced a strategic alliance of their two organizations. Effective July 1, 2024, the organizations will begin operating under the May Festival organizational structure while preserving the Boychoir identity, brand, programming, and independent non-profit status. With a 60-year history of collaboration, stemming from the creation of the Cincinnati Boychoir in 1965, the alliance will join together two of Cincinnati’s storied choral arts organizations and increase access to enrichment opportunities for young singers across the region. 

Co-Board Chairs of the Cincinnati Boychoir Katy Sheehan and Emily Reinhold said: “This strategic alliance is rooted in our shared commitment to advancing the arts and fostering creativity within our community. By joining forces, the Cincinnati Boychoir will be more accessible than ever before and will be able to continue our mission to enhance and deepen every boy’s creative expression, community engagement and cultural appreciation for generations to come. We look forward to amplifying our collective impact alongside the May Festival.”  

“This is an alliance of two vibrant choral music organizations with a long history of working together for the benefit of our region,” said May Festival Executive Director Steven Sunderman. “We’ve collaborated for six decades, beginning in 1965 when the Cincinnati Boychoir formed and made its debut with the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for a presentation of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Our increased frequency of collaborations in recent years have allowed us to better understand and visualize 360-degree benefits that would be afforded to both the Cincinnati Boychoir and Cincinnati May Festival as well as to singers from across the region. We are excited to come together and create an even more vibrant future for choral music here in Cincinnati.”  

As part of the May Festival’s 150th anniversary activities, the Boychoir joined the May Festival Chorus and Youth Chorus for the 2023 world premiere of James Lee’s Breaths of Universal Longings and performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand, the latter as part of a massive ensemble of singers from choruses across Ohio. The Boychoir also participated in the May Festival’s 25 for 25 commissioning project and collaborated on Youth Voices United, a multi-chorus festival for local middle and high school students.  

In addition to enhanced performance collaborations, the alliance also underscores both organizations’ commitment to education and advances their strategic plans. Recent years saw the Cincinnati Boychoir increasing access to its programs through scholarships, financial aid, and targeted community engagement. Similarly, the May Festival has been assessing current programming and services to various ages of participants in order to ensure the long-term health of the May Festival and the region’s singing community. Thanks to this new alliance, the Boychoir will become tuition-free beginning in September 2024, which achieves a strategic goal for the Boychoir organization and matches the “no tuition, no fees” model of the May Festival Choruses.   

When combined, the education and performance programs of both organizations will complement one another and create an unbroken pipeline of singing opportunities that allows participants to cultivate a life-long appreciation for choral music. Programs for participants include May Festival MiNiS for ages 0-12 at educational settings across the region; Cincinnati Choral Academy for grades 3-6 at partnering schools; Cincinnati Boychoir Apprentices Program for unchanged voices in grades 3-6; Cincinnati Boychoir JourneyMen Program for unchanged voices in grades 4-7; Cincinnati Boychoir Ambassadors Program for unchanged and changed voices in grades 5-12; May Festival Youth Chorus for all voice types in grades 8-12, and the May Festival Chorus for adults of all voice types.  

As public-facing performance education programs, the Boychoir and the May Festival Youth Chorus will both fall under the artistic leadership of Jason Alexander Holmes, incoming May Festival Associate Director of Choruses and Director of the Youth Chorus. In addition to Holmes, both the Youth Chorus and the Boychoir ensembles will be served by teams of skilled accompanists, directors, and instructors in order to meet the specific educational needs of their members.  

“This partnership is exciting and practical for both the May Festival and Cincinnati Boychoir,” said Holmes. “I feel particularly blessed that this alliance allows me to continue working with colleagues at the Cincinnati Boychoir to build artistry, personal growth, community engagement, and cultural appreciation among our singers, their families, and our Greater Cincinnati community. This work aligns beautifully with the May Festival’s programming, especially for children and youth.”  

“This is such a smart and well-timed new vision for the May Festival and Boychoir,” said Alecia Kintner, ArtsWave President & CEO. “Coming together to increase community impact and access for more young people is exactly what arts organizations should be thinking about. ArtsWave is excited to watch both entities sing and thrive for decades to come!”  


Cincinnati Boychoir is a choir for male-identifying youth of all musical abilities from across the Greater Cincinnati region. Founded in 1965, the Boychoir is a teaching and performing organization that offers musical enrichment, performance, and touring opportunities. Its goal is to provide accessible programming for boys of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds so they have the opportunity to experience the life-changing impact of immersive arts participation.     

Singers work with professional music educators who teach towards personal growth, artistic excellence, cultural appreciation, and community engagement. Boys from grades 3-12 attend weekly rehearsals. In addition to rehearsing with voice- and age-based ensembles, all boys come together once a week for a combined rehearsal in a multi-age environment where older and younger boys can learn from and be inspired by each other.  

Cincinnati Boychoir presents approximately 20-25 annual performances across the Greater Cincinnati region, in addition to performing nationally and internationally.   


“One of the Best Classical Music Festivals in the U.S. and Canada” (BBC Music Magazine, 2021, 2022 and 2023) and recognized as a leader in increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and access in the choral world (Chorus America, 2022), the Cincinnati May Festival is distinguished by its unique community-based structure and standard of extraordinary artistic excellence. Founded in 1873, the annual May Festival is the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Many important choral works have received their world and American premieres at the May Festival in the past 150 years, including Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi, and R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses. Anchored by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the May Festival hosts an international array of guest artists in dynamic productions each year.  

May Festival is also committed to serving young singers in the region through educational programs that include the May Festival Youth Chorus for SATB voices in grades 8-12, Greater Cincinnati Choral Academy for grades 3-6 in Cincinnati Public Schools and May Festival MiNiS, a mobile early childhood education program that introduces children of all ages to music through exploration of the world’s most accessible musical instrument, the human voice.