2014 Spring Concert "Knowing Home: Places that Belong to Us."
May. 03, 2014 at 07:30 PM
Parker Playhouse
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
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In Memoriam, Jeffri Bantz, Music Director 1981 — 1998

Our former longtime director Jeffri Bantz died July 31. He left us to return to fulltime church work in 1998 after twenty years with the Singing Sons, so none of our present choirboys knew him, but to more than a thousand men in South Florida who sang as boys between 1979 and 1998 he was their maestro. A superb organist and accompanist, Jeff was also the Director of Music for First Presbyterian Church of Pompano Beach, and associate director of the Master Chorale of South Florida. However, as Sun-Sentinel classical music writer Lawrence Johnson reported in Mr. Bantz's obituary, his greatest legacy was his work with the Singing Sons Boychoir.

Alumni of our choirs know his legacy well. They would work long hours for him. They would juggle baseball and soccer schedules for him. They would do this because Mr. Bantz could make magic from their voices.

Mr. Bantz didn't want the sad news of his battle with an aggressive virus in his brain that claimed his life at 52 to be shared with the Singing Sons-the old boys-whose memories of his vibrancy are vivid. Jeff was a very private man who rejected mawkish displays of sentimentality directed at him, and we understand that it was his wish that his passing not be attended by funereal pomp. So we will focus on his life and not his death. Both the Florida's Singing Sons Boychoir and the Second Generation Singers will play a role in a concert of South Florida artists celebrating his life at a date to be announced by his family.

Mr. Bantz started with our organization as Don Mathis' accompanist in 1978, when some of the original boys were still singing as trebles. At the 1980 Spring "Pops Concert" he first conducted the top choir, then called the Senior Choir, and the following year Mr. Mathis turned the organization over to his direction. The choir grew into three choirs, and he formed a male teen chorus, the Second Generation Singers, in 1988. He conducted the boys in many countries on tour, and brought our choirs international kudos.

Jeff studied with the greats of the choral conducting world, including George Bragg, Joseph Flummerfelt, Sir George Guest, James Litton, John Rutter, Robert Shaw, Howard Swan, and Sir David Willcocks. He participated in the Academie Internationale d'ete de Director de Choeur D'Enfants in Grasse, France. Though he never completed his bachelor's degree in music at the University of Miami, he was accepted into the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. By then, Mr. Bantz was so busy with his music jobs that he could not find the time for further schooling. But his reputation among the concert-goers of South Florida, both as an accompanist and a choral conductor was peerless.

Since his "retirement" from the boychoir, Mr. Bantz has remained one of our most faithful concert attendees. As we attempt to contact the men who sang under Mr. Bantz's direction, we ask that the choir alumni go to our alumni link at the bottom of this page and complete the form that will help us reach you when we have additional information. A formative alumni organization and choir, a memorial fund honoring Mr. Bantz's contributions to the boychoir, and an opportunity to gather with each other to celebrate and honor Mr. Bantz's legacy are each being planned. Information regarding each of these will be made available on our website as we have it.

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