Palm Beach Atlantic alumnus Sterling Frederick continues leading his award-winning choir at Boynton Beach Community High School, and now he’s also directing a new community choir, which performed at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan in December.
“It was an incredible trip,” said Frederick. “The students got to open for the Rockettes,” the famous precision dance company that stages a Christmas Spectacular in the hall.
The new community choir, First Serve Dimensional Harmony, is made up of some 30 high-schoolers from the Boynton Beach and Delray Beach areas. Frederick hopes to schedule a local performance of that choir soon, and he plans to take the group to London next December, at the invitation of London’s lord mayor.
But now the director concentrates on getting his Boynton Beach Community High School choir ready for the year’s competitions. He’s built the choral music program into a point of pride for the school, its singing ambassadors hitting the road and winning honors year after year. Palm Beach Atlantic students heard the group when Frederick, a 1995 grad, brought the choir to sing at chapel. The Alumni Association recognized Frederick as a Distinguished Alumnus last year.
“I felt transported through time as I heard their angelic voices fill the chapel,” said Chapel Worship Coordinator Jeanny Alexandre, after the group’s visit to PBA.
PBA students had heard that Sterling Frederick’s singers once performed on the TODAY show; they believed it when they heard those singers in that PBA chapel; and they would have understood it if they could have seen the group in rehearsal:
At the end of a regular school day at Boynton Beach Community High School, choir rehearsal began right on time. Frederick was so intent on his singers that at first he didn’t notice a photographer had come to join them.
Snapping his fingers in rhythm and coaching on tempo and pronunciation, the director led the group through a lively Russian folksong, in Russian.
Next came a haunting, a cappella African American spiritual, a piece the students had memorized. Every eye trained on Frederick, they sang, “Wade in the water, children … .”
“You guys are clashing,” warned Frederick. “You need to blend. We’re going to state; not Kmart.” His singers have been to “state” (state competition) many times, as attested by the trophies lining the walls of their rehearsal room.
After a full day of classes, these high school students were singing through a long rehearsal, but you didn’t see them glancing at their cell phones. You didn’t hear the basses talking with each other while the director works with the altos. You did hear a lot of “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” when students addressed their director. These students have learned that Frederick requires respect from them but also demonstrates respect for them.
“This class is not just chorus,” said alto Zariah Jones. “It teaches you time management. It teaches you how to act like an adult. And I consider us a family. Mr. Fred’s a dad to me and to all of us.”
Photo: Sterling Frederick '95 directs his Boynton Beach Community High School choir during an after-school rehearsal.