Images from my 7 Years with the Texas Boys Choir

George Bragg and Donald Collup, 1969

With gratitude to Kenneth Polito and Evan Faris for providing these pictures

The William Edrington Scott Theater opened in the spring of 1966 and all of the arts organizations of Fort Worth participated in the gala evening - opera, ballet, symphony, theater and the Texas Boys Choir. Among the celebrity guests were pianist Peter Duchin, composer Gian Carlo Menotti and Zsa Zsa Gabor. In the picture with Menotti, I'm kneeling at the far lower right corner. In the photo with Ms. Gabor, I am in the center, with a choirboy between me and Ms. Gabor.

In the spring of 1966, the Texas Boys Choir was asked to participate in the Columbia Masterworks recording of Igor Stravinsky's monodrama Perséphone which took place in Hollywood.

This picture was taken during the rehearsal at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the live performance with tenor soloist Michele Molese (I remember during the performance, he got lost and the composer/conductor himself started singing very audibly to get Molese back on track). My head can be found directly over the head of Molese.

This photo was taken after that rehearsal showing Stravinsky meeting us and saying we were "the best boys choir in the world," a quote that was emblazoned on press material for decades after. As far as I can tell, I am above and between Stravinsky and George Bragg (on Stravinsky's right).

The third picture from this occasion shows the enchanting narrator for the work, Vera Zorina. This was taken after the recording session was finished. Zorina was THE single inspiration for my eventual love of French melodie by her beautifully expressive and dramatic narration.

I must re-emphasize that the recording had only one session: after having been rehearsed by Stravinsky's long-time assistant Robert Craft, Stravinsky appeared, mounted the podium and the entire recording was made in only one take).

In 1967, the Texas Boys Choir was invited to participate in the Columbia Masterworks recordings of the antiphonal music of Giovannii Gabrieli in St. Mark's Cathedral, the very church and acoustics the music was written for.

Around late 1966, the Vienna Boys Choir visited Fort Worth and a luncheon was held at Green Oaks Inn. The choir boy pictured with me is Reinhold Erinhoffer.

Those nine days in Venice were grueling: recording sessions beginning at 9pm and last lasting into the early morning hours. Women (members of the Gregg Smith singers) had never set foot in the dual choir lofts and this created a scandal. And one of them, horror of horrors, was pregnant. They were immediately outfitted with hospital gowns.

I believe this picture was taken during a brief visit to London. I am seated directly in front of the tree.

At the degree recital of Agnes Grossmann, I was asked to present her with flowers. Her father (grandfother?) was Ferdinand Grossmann, a head of the Vienna Boys Choir. From left to right: Rachel Colvin, Mary D Walsh, George Bragg, Agnes Grossmann's teacher Lili Kraus, Agnes Grossmann and Donald Collup.

In 1968 and 1969, the Texas Boys Choir was invited to participate during the debut season of the newly-built Santa Fe Opera House. During 1968, I sang First Spirit in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Then nature took over the following summer and I sang Second Spirit (I remember BARELY getting through the performances as my voice was changing all the while. I also sang the role of the Shepherd Boy in Tosca. In this picture, Doris Yarick portrays Pamina and I am on her immediate left. Fifteen years later, I attended the Yale Opera School where she was the head of the Opera Department.

From left to right: David Smith, Donald Collup, Mark Zufeldt and William Workman (Papageno).

The above two pictures were probably taken in 1969, my last year as a choirboy (or should I say choirteen?). In the first one, I'm on the far right; in the second, I'm standing in the middle row on the left.

Sometime in 1970 (?), a documentary about the Texas Boys Choir, entitled "A Time of Waking" received its premiere. The adults in the b/w photo are, L to R, George Bragg, founder/director of the TBC, Truett Myers, producer and Mary D and Howard Walsh, patrons of the arts in Fort Worth and major supporters of the Texas Boys Choir. I'm on the far left. RE: my fashion sense, the less said the better...

In the color photograph are, from L to R, myself, Mary D and Howard Walsh, George Bragg and Truett Myers.

Here is an excerpt from the documentary during which I sang the Mozart Alleluja. The audio was recording in February of 1969 and the video, with me lipsynching to my own voice, was filmed at the end of the following summer.

After I "retired" as a member of the Texas Boys Choir, I became their tour accompanist and accompanied them worldwide for four years. During a costume change of these concerts, I played Chopin's Polonaise in Ab and "Chopin" from Schumann's Carnival. Later, I replaced the Schumann with the Scriabin Etude in D# minor. This photo was taken in the early 1970s at the Tarrant County Convention Center during the hometown post-tour concert.

In 1972, the Texas Boys Choir was invited to perform at the Paul Claudel Festival in France, singing works by Darius Milhaud. We made other stops in Bergen, Norway (where I had the opportunity to play Edvard Grieg's piano), and a cathedral concert tour of England and Scotland. During our stop in Rome, we were honored with an audience with Pope Paul. We were placed on the stage and not with the general public. On the back row is my mother (wearing a white veil) and I am on her left.

In Florence, we were invited to sit in on a master class given by the great Italian baritone, Tito Gobbi. This was held at Villa Schiffanoia. You can see a sliver of me on the furthest left of the picture.