Wednesday, July 16, 2014

YPC at CME 2014: Part 4

YPC singers participate in an African dance and drumming workshop at CME 2014.

I had a great time on the Ithaca trip! It was awesome getting to see the different ways there are to conduct and how it really affects the sound of a chorus. I also had a great time outside of rehearsal--my home stay was very nice and I loved the people I stayed with. This was my first year with YPC and it has been a fantastic experience. I have made life-long friends in such a short period of time. The trip to Ithaca also was a great time to meet new people, I made a lot of new friends and became closer with the ones I already had. I really feel like I'm part of a second family and I'm so happy I joined the chorus this year!

Annie (14 years old), Cantare Chorister

Monday, July 14, 2014

YPC at CME 2014: Part 3

CME Director Dr. Janet Galván leads the combined choirs in warm up exercises while workshop participants observe.

"This is my second year going on the trip to Ithaca, and both years have been great experiences. It's a wonderful trip because I always meet new people, both from Ithaca and YPC. It is always interesting to see teachers improving their conducting skills in the workshop and to view things from their perspective. Of course, it is also fun having a combined chorus with ICC, the Lee’s Summit Youth Chorale, and YPC!"

Johnathan (14 years old), Cantare Chorister

Thursday, July 10, 2014

YPC at CME 2014: Part 2

"For the past three nights, six of us from Cantare have had the wonderful opportunity to experience a whole different way of life in Ithaca. CME has been a great week of singing, laughing, and making new friends. Before we left NYC, each chorister was matched up with a homestay to live with during the trip. The six of us were lucky enough to be put in a bed and breakfast that an Ithaca family graciously offered for us and an Ithaca College chaperone to stay in.

The bed and breakfast is located in an all-natural, solar powered community called Ecovillage. We swam in a pond, went into a sun heated hot tub, and picked freshly grown berries from the Ecovillage community garden. The best part of it is that we get to be surrounded by nature and see the lovely views of Ithaca's sunsets and stars, which we never get to experience in New York City. During the day, singing with the Ithaca Children's Choir and staying in this beautiful area with our best friends have made this trip truly unforgettable!"

Celia (15 years old), Michelle (14 years old), Asila (14 years old), Maggie (15 years old), Julia (14 years old), and Sarea (14 years old), Cantare Choristers

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

YPC at CME 2014: Part 1

From June 29 through July 3, 2014, members of YPC went upstate to Ithaca to participate in the Choral Music Experience (CME) program at Ithaca College. YPC has been fortunate to be a part of this special event for several years. Alongside the Ithaca Children's Choir and the Lee's Summit Youth Chorale, and with the leadership of CME Director Dr. Janet Galván, YPC singers served as the demonstration choir for numerous workshop activities while learning valuable musical lessons, meeting new friends, and enjoying beautiful Ithaca in the summertime. To further enhance the experience, local families graciously offered to welcome YPC singers to their homes for the duration of the trip.
YPC singers with Dr. Janet Galván.
Over the coming days, choristers will reflect on their experiences at CME here on the YPC Blog. Below, Elvira and Alyssa from Cantare share some of their favorite memories from the trip:

"In the CME program, we began learning many different pieces of music with the Ithaca Children’s Choir and rehearsed with Dr. Galván every day of the workshop. The music was an array of different repertoire, ranging from classic Latin to a song about a bee and a fly. We also did African drumming sessions that involved a lot of dancing, singing and playing percussion instruments. Another very fun activity was when we went swimming at the pool in beautiful 90° F weather.

Overall the trip was a ton of fun. The day before our concert all of the CME participants went to Buttermilk Falls State Park for a picnic. Buttermilk is very beautiful, and has a waterfall and a natural pool where we got to walk, play, and sing with all of the participants of the workshop."
--Elvira (14 years old) and Alyssa (16 years old), Cantare Choristers

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Basel Day 6: Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, our last full day in Basel, brought the close of this year's European Youth Choir Festival. Over the course of a very memorable week, YPC gave almost a dozen performances in and around Basel to audiences of thousands of people, was featured on Swiss television twice, and shared the stage with hundreds of other singers from around Europe and the world. We heard both familiar music and pieces that we had never encountered before (and that we might never hear again), and we were affirmed in our conviction that music can bring people together no matter where they come from. To top it off, we also had a wonderful time exploring Switzerland!

The culminating concert of the Festival featured every participating choir. Each ensemble shared a song that was representative of its musical traditions and culture. YPC was proud to offer Bridge Over Troubled Water for this performance.

YPC performs in the closing concert of the European Youth Choir Festival in Basel

For many choristers, one of the highlights of the trip was having the opportunity to stay with local families in Basel. Our homestays were incredibly generous, not only welcoming YPC singers into their homes but going above and beyond to make them feel like part of the family. Ikey from Young Men writes about his homestay experience below:

"Despite our cultural and linguistic differences, we managed to befriend some of the coolest Swiss people because of the homestay situation. With the teenagers, we bonded over “like eh meh-gik wind” and “uf e geile obe”! With the parents, we discussed how different family life was in America. On Sunday, after our final concert, Josh and I met our homestay family for mini-golf and ice cream, after which we went to a restaurant overlooking Basel and the Alps, where we petted horses and debated whether Swiss or American barbecue was better. As the sun set, we hiked up a small mountain, upon which there was a castle, circa 1400.

The 2014 Basel tour wasn’t only a brief foreign visit for the European Youth Choir Festival; it was an unparalleled adventure in cultural immersion. It is a tour that I find myself coming away from with a profound melancholy, rather than the typical tired happiness that comes with returning home. Although tours are often a time when YPC becomes closer as a family, on this trip we find ourselves with an extended family. Many of us have invited our homestays to our homes in New York, just as much out of verified inclination than out of gratitude."

--Ikey, 18 years old

Thank you to our wonderful hosts, the Festival staff and organizers, and everyone who contributed to making this trip possible! It is one that YPC will always remember!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Basel Day 5: Taking it to the Streets!

By Saturday morning, it was hard to believe that our time in Basel was approaching its close. The previous days had been so full of great music and cultural exchange that they had just flown by. Fortunately, we were able to put off the inevitable return to the airport for a bit longer because Saturday was to be YPC's busiest day of the entire trip: four performances in one day!

YPC singers take a break in between performances for a photo op!

Our first stop of the day was beautiful Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church), where YPC rehearsed for the evening performance. The Church is situated up above the Rhine and features a lovely and intricate wooden interior as well as a gorgeous acoustic. With each new venue that we sang in, we discovered more and more just how many beautiful spaces there are in Basel!

YPC prepares for an evening performance in Basel's Martinskirche

The Festival garners tremendous support from the community of Basel. At no point in our visit was this more clear than on Saturday afternoon, when YPC joined with other participating choirs in a series of outdoor concerts in several plazas in the central part of the city. The experience of walking from place to place, hearing music from many different ensembles in the air wherever you went, was thrilling. In all of the three outdoor concerts we sang there were people filling every inch of each plaza.

Part of the audience for YPC's first outdoor performance in Basel's Theaterplatz

Having the opportunity to perform in many of the public spaces that we had explored throughout the week was a fun treat. There were even some audience members that walked with YPC from performance to performance to hear us sing two or even three times!

YPC performs a medley of selections from West Side Story at an outdoor performance in Barfüsserplatz

Monday, June 9, 2014

Basel Day 4: Singing Boys

Friday was a day that all of the choristers had been looking forward to for quite some time. One of the most prominent features of the European Youth Choir Festival of Basel for this year was a special focus on "Singing Boys" from around the world. YPC's Young Men division would join the all-male Knabenkantorei Basel, the Estonian National Opera Boys' Choir and the Choristers of Jesus College Cambridge, England in a headlining performance in the gorgeous Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). Before that evening concert, however, the full complement of YPC singers gave a lunchtime concert in the Church. As in the previous days, the house was completely full and the energy from the audience was electric.

YPC sings Bridge Over Troubled Water in Basel's Peterskirche

Though May is often a very rainy month in the Basel area, we were fortunate to have beautiful blue skies for nearly all of our tour. On Friday afternoon, YPC choristers relaxed alongside singers from all of the other participating choirs for a special boat tour along the Rhine river. Nick from the Young Men's division describes this special sightseeing venture:

"One part of Basel that I love most is its location. The fact that this city is located minutes away from France and Germany brings a lot of cultural exchange. For example, on a boat ride along the Rhine of Basel, we met a bunch of choirs from around Switzerland, but each one of them has a different background. One may speak French, while the other speaks German, and another one Italian! I love seeing so much diversity coming to the city, partly because it reminds me of YPC itself. We all come from such different cultures and areas of the city, yet we all share this common passion of performing (and being New Yorkers, of course!). I can't wait to see what else Basel, Switzerland has in store for us next."

--Nick, 18 years old

View of the bank of the Rhine from YPC's boat cruise

Back on land, the Young Men eagerly awaited the "Singing Boys" concert. This was a special moment for YPC because it was the first time that this division had been featured by itself in a showcase performance of this type. In the end, the concert was a wonderful success, and the singers left feeling that an important milestone had been achieved. Of course, there were still many Festival performances ahead to look forward to as well!

YPC's Young Men perform Ride the Chariot, arr. W.H. Smith