Monday, December 14, 2009

Geneva Chorister Feedback!

"Our concert in Geneva on Thursday, December 10 was truly an eye-opening experience for me. It seemed like our presence and mission really opened the minds and hearts of the audience members. When the audience came through the doors of Victoria Hall, they might have been expecting a choir of children, singing some classical songs, but they got much more out of it than that. Two women that I spoke to at the reception afterward really put out performance in perspective for me. They asked me so many questions about the chorus, like if we all went to the same school, or came from the same part of town - and the answer for both was no. The women also said they were amazed that children who had never had any musical experience can join the chorus, and learn to sing in other languages and dance in different styles from all over the world. What I learned in this week's trip is that YPC isn't just a chorus that sings well. Our diverse singers and repertoire combined with our relationship with each other onstage, and our relationship with the audience gives them a musical experience to remember. That response from the audience, combined with our synergy on stage that night, is what made this concert one of the best I've had with YPC so far." - Christopher, Chorister

Winter Concert Feedback

"Every year, YPC performs at the Y for their annual winter concert. Singing a fun variety of music, YPC puts on a show for friends and family that support the organization as they continue to grow as a choir in numbers, and in fame. Although YPC had the winter concert here in NYC, a selected group of singers had been selected for a week trip to Geneva, Switzerland. Despite the reduced number of singers, YPC showed the capability they had by still performing an inspirational and entertaining performance." - Isaac, Young Men

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Winter Concert Feedback

"This was my first YPC concert ever. It was wonderfully festive and wamr! The music was performed to perfection. I was awed by the professionalism of our conductors led by Francisco Nunez, with all our choristers' and audience members' eyes focused on each one as they led their particular chorus. I was dazzled by the beauty of our 300-plus young people as they sang. And I could feel the pride of YPC family members and friends as they watched and later because engaged in the performance. I was carried away by the whole experience. I look forward to more and more." - Anne Stern, Director of Development

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chorister Feedback from TV Performance

"On Tuesday, December 3, I had the privilege of participating in a live TV broadcast of two songs of the season. Although it required me to awaken at an ungodly hour, I was excited to participate. We were on the CW's WPIX Morning News from 8:45 to 9:00 a.m. The experience in the studio was somewhat overwhelming, but it was fun all the same. We got to be on TV for more than 15 minutes! In the studio, there were pictures lining the walls of famous people who had been on the same stage and the same news show as me. The vibe in the studio was everything but calm - there were people running everywhere trying to get something done while making sure not to disrupt the show. The fact that we got to see all of the things that nobody else knows about when watching the show from home, was totally awesome."
- Josh, Chorister

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

YPC is in Geneva!

We received our first batch of photos from the choristers touring in Geneva right now. Check out what they've been up to:
YPC on the trolley on the way to rehearsal

YPC rehearsing with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra

In front of the Geneva Cathedral

YPC rehearsing

YPC rehearsing

Young Men singing on the steps of the Geneva Cathedral

Rehearsing at Alabama Hall for after concert reception for government officials

YPC posing after singing Peace for the Chancellor Head of State

Monday, November 30, 2009

YPC on TV Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, December 1st, select members of YPC will be performing on the CW's Morning Show. Be sure to tune in! YPC was recently invited to record a special version of the Dora the Explorer Christmas theme song, which is featured on two new holiday releases - "Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure" DVD and "Dora's Christmas" CD. YPC will be performing this theme song on TV tomorrow.

Click on the image above to watch behind-the-scenes footage from the recording session!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ad Council's Award Dinner

Last week, YPC performed at the Ad Council's 56th Annual Public Service Award Dinner.

It was an honor to be invited to perform at this prestigious event at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria. The choristers put on a wonderful sho
w to kick off the evening. The ballroom was huge and many people were still taking their seats at the top of the show when YPC took the stage, but the chorus sung their hearts out and had the rapt attention of the honoree for the night, Muhtar Kent, the Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.

Here is a picture of YPC rehearsing on the stage. Unfortunately the photos of the event itself were too dark but envision the chorus just like this but in their matching uniforms! They looked and sounded fantastic.

The host for the evening, Tina Fey, slipped right past the chorus waiting to go on stage which left more than a few of us giddy with excitement!

The Ad Council set up YPC in a beautiful conference room at the Waldorf and left us with quite a spread of food. Check it out below:

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Lord & Taylor Feedback!

"It was definitely one of the most interesting experiences in my life to perform, while practically engulfed by a rack of velvet dresses, singing soprano at a department store. The Lord & Taylor concert went very smoothly. I had never actually been in such a hulking store before, so I was a little distracted by my epic surroundings. After the performance, my family reaped the benefits of the discount coupon, and bought a fat songbird Christmas ornament in honor of the performance. The concert rocked! (in a chorus way)" - Clark, Intermezzo Chorus

Lord & Taylor Benefit Bash Day Chorister Feedback

"On Tuesday I performed at Lord & Taylor in NYC with the Intermezzo division. Being in this concert was great because I was in a big store, and I had a solo. We had everybody closely gathered around us and I liked the attention. It was nice that this was a fundraiser for my favorite chorus!" - Nicholas, Intermezzo Chorus

"Yesterday, performing at Lord & Taylor was quite fun. I especially like the cookies from Sarabeth's Kitchen. Wearing red scarves and singing Christmas carols made me feel joyful and grateful to be a part of YPC. Now that I feel so at home with my fellow chorus members and the kind crew I can't wait for the next concert. Thank you so much Amy, Michael and the rest of my friends at YPC." - Raechel, Intermezzo Chorus

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lord & Taylor

On Tuesday, YPC performed at Lord & Taylor's Benefit Bash Day. There were 5 performances throughout the day, including a Satellite School and YPC's Intermezzo, Cantare, and Concert Chorus divisions.

It was a tremendous success. Below, read some feedback we got from a participating chorister.

Stay tuned for photos and more chorister feedback coming soon!

"Yesterday I was performing at Lord & Taylor, and I had a lot of fun. It was very much unlike performing on a stage, mainly because there were clothes behind us, and also because our families and friends were within 7 feet in front of us. It was a lot of fun, and I hope that Intermezzo and Cantare can do somethimg like it again soon."

- Maud, Intermezzo Division

Friday, September 25, 2009

Radio Radiance Programs Air!

This season's Radio Radiance programs aired in September. If you missed the original broadcasts, you can listen directly on the YPC website. Each program features a performance by YPC, an interview with a featured composer, and accompanying pre-broadcast and broadcast Listening Guides. Check it all out on the Radio Radiance page!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Radio Radiance Airs Again!

Episode Two of YPC's new radio and internet program, Radio Radiance , aired on Wednesday, September 16 on Performance Today.

The next broadcast will be Tuesday, September 22!

The September 16 show is now available for download on the YPC
Radio Radiance website! You can read all about the newly commissioned work, "Two Mountain Songs," by Gabriela Lena Frank by downloading the Listening Guides that are available on the website.

Let us know what you think of Radio Radiance
by leaving comments on our blog!

Read All About our Japan Tour

After keeping up with the tour via the chorister blog updates all summer, now you have the chance to learn about the full Japan Tour experience!

See lots of pictures from the tour, hear more stories directly from the chorister, read the YPC staff perspective of the tour, and learn about all of the exciting performances, Japanese culture, and places the YPC experienced while on tour!

Monday, September 14, 2009

YPC Radio Radiance Recording Session

Check out the pictures of YPC recording "Crosstown M42" for Radio Radiance. This performance and accompanying interview aired on "Performance Today" on Friday, September 11. Listen to the program here!

Above, YPC with composers Robert Kapilow and Fred Newman

Friday, September 11, 2009

If You See Something, Sing Something!

YPC's new radio and internet program, Radio Radiance, an NEA-funded project in collaboration with WNYC New York Public Radio and American Public Media (APM), begins airing today, Friday, September 11, on APM's "Performance Today."

Each program will feature a performance by YPC and interview with the featured composer.

Today's show will feature "Crosstown M42" by Robert Kapilow and Fred Newman. Listen on the "Performance Today" website NOW!

Read all about the piece here:

Have you ever traveled across New York City by bus? Composers Robert Kapilow and Fred Newman had the idea of recreating this experience in their new choral work "Crosstown M42," written for the Young People's Chorus of New York City's Radio Radiance program. Beginning with sounds of the wind and seagulls on the Hudson River, the listener is taken on a journey past Port Authority, through Times Square and Bryant Park all the way to the East River. Each stop contains a snapshot, or rather an earshot, of the amazing city sounds that are all around us. Complete with beat boxing, steel drums, sitar playing and even every child's favorite, "the Wheels on the Bus," it is an exciting piece that will captivate every listener.

Check back soon for more announcements about Radio Radiance!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dancing, Singing, and Losing a Shoe!

Konnichiwa! It is day 20 of the Japan trip and boy oh boy is it a humid one! Two hours ago I had such a wonderful experience with the Children of the Sun chorus from the town of Kochi. These kids are ages 9 to 11 and are quite the bunch. They sang two songs, one in Japanese, one in English and both were super cute! We ended up singing "Furusato," "Tegami" and "New York, New York" and the kids enjoyed them.

Afterward we joined them in their traditional dance and we were given instruments to use. It was quite the experience watching YPC’ers concentrate fully on the lovely lady who danced in the middle, trying to copy her every move. The experience then turned humorous when after our attempt at their traditional dance, we taught them "Run, Run, Run my Baby." It is nothing like a traditional dance, but all of us really love it.

At first, the Children of the Sun choristers were a bit shy, but after a while most of them got into it and it was indeed a success. Singing, dancing, laughing and playing with the kids was truly beautiful and it was unfortunate that we only spent an hour with them. Being in Japan, I have learned that the people here are passionate about one another and the environment around them. The generosity and care of the Japanese people is astonishing and these shining qualities will absolutely be missed.

As far as concerts go, last night was one I will most definitely remember. As I was about to dance across to the other side of the stage during "Take Me to the Water," my shoe decided to slip off. So, the only option was to keep on dancing with one shoe and try to complete the song without losing myself to laughter (it was extremely difficult). Anywho, the next song starts and my shoe is in the middle of the stage, longing for my foot. Luckily, we move around during this song so my friend and fellow alto Alphea, slides my shoe over to me (with the utmost grace) and I quickly slip my shoe back on and went on singing!

- Emma Kate Hirschhorn/Chorister

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Meeting Japanese Children

Sydney Fishman, Jamal Marcelin, Lenice Wells

"We’ve been in Japan for 3 weeks now and it’s been great. I’m writing this blog from a bus on my way to Matsuyama from Kochi. We’re almost there and we can’t wait to get there. Life is great here in Japan. The people are so nice and the land is beautiful. We just came from a “day care center” that had Japanese children ranging in ages from 9 to 11. The children were very nice and fun, but very shy. They taught us a dance that was from their town. They also sang us 2 songs: 1 in Japanese and 1 in English. We also sang them 2 songs. They sang both songs with us. They were very kind, but when we tried to play a dancing game with them they became extremely shy and some of them didn’t want to dance with us. This experience was extremely fun."

- Jamal Marcelin/Chorister

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Reflections on the Japan Tour Experience

Onoyama-San with Haru Zenda, Charlie Lovett, and Nathaniel Janis

Aneesa Folds, Alphea John, Caroline Smith, and Stephan Douglas-Allen

"This trip to Japan has taught me a great deal not just about my voice but about my culture and personal life also. Japan is a giving culture: you give them something in thanks and they return by giving more. It has changed my ways completely and I am now more prone to think about others than just myself.

Every concert I am more and more amazed at our voices - each performance we hit a new level. I think of us as one body, working together until each of our hearts are in tune and beating as one. (I know it's sounds cheesy, but it is true) I also see each of us becoming healthier by the day because of our constant exercise and healthy eating. (Besides the McDonalds that we sometimes get!) The cliques have broken to form one unit of amazing people, each and everyone of us.

I have made everlasting bonds with the most unexpected people, and created a lifelong network. This trip has been such an amazing experience so far that Tokyo Disneyland was not even the best part of my journey!

It is hard to believe that the trip is coming to a close next week, because this has been an amazing experience performing on this beautiful island."

- Alphea John/Chorister

Reflections on the Japan Tour Experience

YPC Recording at SONY Studios, Tokyo

Lizz Dorovitsine, Aneesa Folds, Wynter Lastarria

"Today marks the 11th concert of the trip. It’s starting to fly by and I feel that we are all going to miss it when it’s over. Many of us have bonded in so many ways and have shared endless experiences together that I know will be remembered forever. On this trip I’ve learned a lot about myself and my voice. We have no choice but to be responsible and to be smart about the way we carry ourselves at this time. If we lose anyone at any moment everything changes because every voice matters. It's funny because we are given so many chances but every single concert has to be right on, and the feeling of support and the family bond that we share makes that possible. When we are on the stage we are one and the audience can always see that. The concerts have been successful and we have created a strong connection with every audience. I can now understand what it means when they tell us we are young ambassadors. We are doing something special that is making a huge difference, and that is something that we can all cherish forever."

- Aneesa Folds/Chorister

Monday, August 3, 2009

Japanese Audiences Surprise YPC

YPC in Hiroshima

"Even though we have been doing the same concert multiple times, each one tends to be a little different than the last. About a week ago, Francisco decided that we should step off the stage and interact with the audience during one of the songs in the second half. Because I am shorter than many of the other choristers, I am in the front for most songs, thus a prime candidate to step off of the stage and into the audience. Performing itself can be scary and intimidating at times, but going into the audience was much more so. After stepping off the stage I had no idea what the reaction would be, and was expecting the worst. However to my surprise our Japanese audience was overly excited to be able to interact with us. So much so in fact, they even reached their hands out in an attempt to grab ours. The first time we went down into the audience we were all very surprised and taken aback by this feedback, however after going into the audience for four of five concerts we have gotten quite used to it. The audience continues to be very interactive and ecstatic when we walk down, which always comes as a nice surprise. Although we have gotten used to our eccentric audiences, they continue to surprise us. A couple concerts ago, one of our choristers, Marissa, was offered a key chain and last night two of our choristers, Hadley and Josh, received flowers from one audience member!

The trip has been great so far and our countless wonderful audiences always help to inspire us throughout our long concerts. I can't believe we only have seven more left!"

-Emily Viola/Chorister

A Day in the Life of a YPC Japan Chorister

YPC at Tokyo Disneyland

Eddie Rakowicz enjoying Japanese noodles!

"Today, July 31st, has been an interesting day thus far: the chorus woke up, had breakfast and immediately scrambled to the Shinkansen station still full of breakfast to buy lunches and hop on our train. The interesting part has hardly begun. We still have two hours on the bullet train, two more hours on a commuter train, then once we arrive at the concert, a two hour rehearsal and a concert. All in a day’s work for YPC, music and cultural ambassadors of the US!

In Tokyo, we enjoyed a day off and had a rather exciting time at the world famous Tokyo Disneyland! I wish we had had another day to actually see the square in which “Lost in Translation” was filmed and so many other films like it. But thinking back on the past few days, because it seems as though no one has written in a while, the trip has been difficult at times but often very relaxing. Francisco has often mentioned that we should be in a sort of “artist mode” from two hours before we enter the hall until we leave to head back to our beds to prepare for whatever day awaits us in the morning. However, I have found that a small percentage of our time is actually spent preparing for concerts between all the other things we are doing on this tour. It is really more like relaxing with a side of performing, instead of the other way around!

Personally, I could not have asked for a more wonderful trip thus far. The food has been even better than I expected, the living situations have been relaxing and comfortable. And as is common when one spends a lot of time with a group of people, you learn things about them that you would not have had you remained beneath the New York stars. My appreciation for this chorus grows as we travel now to our 8th city in Japan. It will be difficult for me to leave them behind as I travel to the west coast, but I know I will see them again. Until next time!"

- Eddie Rakowicz/Chorister

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kobe Beef & Standing Ovations

"After the concert this afternoon in Kobe, we were told that we could do what we wanted for dinner so Nathaniel, Charlie, Will and I got a reservation at a Kobe beef restaurant recommended to us by our friendly neighborhood Sheraton concierge. Dressed in the finest clothing our suitcases had to offer, we took an overpriced cab ride into downtown Kobe. The taxi let us off at the end of what appeared to be a main drag, but the restaurant was nowhere to be seen. The concierge had given us a map, but it was all in Japanese apart from a McDonald’s logo that thankfully corresponded to one near where we were dropped off. We started walking down the street in an attempt to follow the map but after 10 or 15 minutes figured we had gone to far. We went into a nice-looking restaurant and asked for directions. After a quick conference with other waiters, one member of the staff kindly walked us two blocks back from where we had been and pointed us to the restaurant. Finally we made it upstairs and sat down.

It was better than I could have imagined. I can’t emphasize that enough. We sat around a counter where a very nice chef prepared every course of the meal in front of us. We ate our way through 4 different types of amazing appetizers and sides before we saw the beef. He brought it out in huge hunks that he began to masterfully slice and cook with uncanny precision. Every part of the meal was unreal but the steak itself was in another league. The portions were small (about 7 ounces) but the flavor and tenderness were unparalleled. I can’t even do justice to how good it tasted in this limited space. Anyway, we finished our meal, got the check, fainted, paid it, and went back to the hotel.

And now, here is the tale of how we got a standing O:

When we first got onstage in the hall today, a collective awe swept over the chorus as we looked upon what could possibly have been the most beautiful hall we have ever performed in:

The first set – the serious and more musically difficult half - went very well. Even the bamboo stick playing by the Young Men during Panta Rhei went off pretty cleanly. (I will confess, however, that during one of the hits I managed to slam my foot rather than the riser, resulting in my Herculean effort not to make a pained expression on stage.)

Going into the second half - the high-energy, movement-filled segment of the show - we were feeling pretty good. While the set ends with a lot of choreography, it starts with slower songs in four languages. The electricity in the hall was palpably building after each one and it was clear that the hall was ready to explode. When we went into our gospel and spiritual section to close out the concert, the audience erupted perfectly on cue in a way that even Hollywood would have probably rejected as too unrealistic. At the beginning of the tour, the Japanese Consul General told us that the audiences will clap politely after songs and then boisterously at the end if they liked the concert, but today he was proved wrong as cheers were audible through the applause. The concert officially ended with the conclusion of “Music Down in My Soul,” and this is where the excitement hit a new level.

As per the Consul General’s prediction, the audience clapped boisterously, but something surprising happened: scattered among the crowd, people began standing. We sang our two encore pieces as the crowd managed to somehow get even more excited. Onstage this resulted in an amazing feeling of pride and confidence. It was invigorating to know that we had elicited this type of reaction from them. After the second song we bowed another few dozen times and then excitedly went offstage.

We were too wound up to know what to do with ourselves. The clapping continued, and even intensified. Backstage, some people had already started to take their ties and scarves off when all of a sudden we were whisked back onstage…another encore! Filing back on the risers to another burst of applause, we got up and performed “Give Us Hope.” We had earned the respect of this audience enough to deserve the chance to sing another song.

There are certain moments that make all the preparation and work we do worthwhile, the end of that concert was one of them."

-Zach Denkensohn/Chorister

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nara, Japan

"Today was our second day off and we traveled to the city of Nara - famous for the deer that roam among its inhabitants. First, we went to a Buddhist temple that was enormous, awe-inspiring and beautiful. We walked around the grounds first, petting the swarms of deer and taking pictures. Then we entered the temple which was full of huge Buddha statues and colorful and ornate engravings. One large column had a hole in its base - legend says if you climb through the hole, you will reach paradise. So, one by one, all the YPCers made it through the hole with the hope of reaping this reward. Last to complete the task was Fransisco J. Nunez himself, taking a good 20 minutes and ending up covered in sweat. Everyone then made their way to the gift shop to buy souvenirs, including charms promising various aids (promotion of good health, help to achieve academic success, ensuring avoidance of traffic accidents) that had been blessed by monks.

Next, we made our way to a Shinto temple, where many of us had our fortunes told. You shook a box, revealing a number that corresponded to a fortune. The fortunes ranged from “Misfortune” to “Great Good Fortune,” with details about certain aspects of your life. I received, (not to brag, because my fortune detailed that I cannot boast if I want my fate to remain unchanged) Great Good Fortune, and was ecstatic. Some people received Misfortune but were able, as was custom, to rip up their fortune and tie it to a post. So, hopefully everyone walked away with good luck.

Tomorrow we have our sixth concert (can’t believe it!!) here in Kobe—time to get back to work!"

- Miranda Langrehr/Chorister

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nathaniel Goes to a Japanese Barber!

Chorister Nathaniel Janis had a unique experience getting a haircut in Japan last week:

"I was more than a little anxious when the first thing Francisco told me after touching down in Japan was that my hair was too long and unkempt, and I would likely have to get it cut before our first performance. I tried gelling it back, but the combination of hair product and sweat brought about during our sound-check on Tuesday coagulated into a sort of gooey mess, so that plan was out the window.

Which brings us to this morning: I awoke with a strong feeling of unease because I knew this could be the last day for a long time that I would look like myself. Fortunately, fellow chorister and Japanese-speaker Haru Zenda was able to locate a barbershop with a supposedly good reputation. So with Haru and a group of cheerful supporters behind me, I left the hotel feeling a little more confident.

That feeling disappeared as soon as we entered the salon. After stepping out of the elevator I was directed by two women to a sort of waiting-room area, at which time I was presented with catalogs where I assume I was supposed to select the hairstyle that I wanted. One thing I noticed quickly about these catalogs were that they were all of women, so I had Haru check to see if this place actually cut men’s hair. He asked one of the women, which caused her to immediately start waving her arms frantically and quickly directed another woman to rummage up a catalog with pictures of men. Browsing through this didn’t make me feel too much better. Eventually I just had Haru translate to one of the barbers what it was that I wanted, and apparently he was able to understand vaguely what I was talking about.

I followed the barber into the main area of the salon, where he sat me down in a swivel chair and began to wash my hair. Our early attempts at conversation were scintillating:

Barber: Erm, you speak Japanese?

Me: Uh, no, not really.


Me: Um, do you speak English?

Barber: Erm, no.

Clearly things were getting off to a good start. Eventually we started to bond by shouting the names of random Japanese sports stars at each other:

Me: So, do you know Ichiro?

Barber: Hai! Ichiro! Erm, Hideki Matsui? Yankees?

Me: Hai! Me gusta Yankees!

(At the time I was convinced he would understand me better if I spoke Spanish.)

Now that we were best friends and my hair was nice and clean, he led me over to the actual barber’s chair. What followed was largely uneventful—he was painstakingly precise with every action, snipping the smallest possible amounts of hair at a time. About 45 minutes in, he decided we wanted to blow-dry my hair and cut the rest of it dry. The blow-drying itself took about half-an-hour, making the whole thing about a 90-minute ordeal.


Later that afternoon, while we were rehearsing in the lobby of the concert hall where we were going to perform, someone impressively spotted my barber walking along the sidewalk right outside, so I called out to him and he waved back. I wanted to invite him inside to let him hear us rehearse and maybe get him a ticket for our show, but the lobby door was locked and no one seemed to be able to get it open. Oh well."

- Nathanial Janis/Chorister

More from Japan...

Well the trip is quite interesting so far. Things are indeed very different. The people are always bowing, nodding, and/or smiling. Their styles are so experimental which is something I don’t see everyday. The weather is steamy. Finding the balance between working mode and free time isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it comes easier with time. I’m expecting this trip to only get better with time.

- Lenice Wells/Chorister

Above: Lenice Wells & Joshua Batista looking for a snack at the airport

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two More Choristers Share Their Japan Experiences

Nihon has definitely been an exciting and unique experience so far. It is day six and already I think of 80 degrees as a relatively cool temperature. Right now, as I sit waiting for my laundry in a sauna of a Laundromat, Walking outside into the 80 degrees feels like heaven. Anyway, besides having a new idea of what is actually a hot temperature, Japan 2009 has been quite an experience. The culture is so different and interesting to me. I have never been treated so well in my life. Min‐on has done so much to make us feel comfortable here in such a different environment. Nijyuni (22) days left and I can’t wait to learn and experience more here in Nihon!!

‐ Lindsey Feldman/Chorister

It is day 6, we are currently in Nagoya and so far the trip is going well. We have had 2 performances. The first performance went well. The second performance was even better and I think the more we perform the easier all of this will be for us and everything will just become natural. On the other hand Japan is such a beautiful place, the culture is so much more different from ours. The people here are so kind and generous. We get a lot of looks in the street, usually smiles. It makes me feel so welcome and makes me feel good.

- Andrea Bonaparte/Chorister

Japan Chorister Update!

We are currently sitting in a tiny hole-in-the-wall coin Laundromat in the city of Nagoya. It feels like 110 degrees and it is extremely muggy, but despite the hot weather, Japan has been wonderful so far. We are seeing such interesting cities and getting such great traveling experiences. One of my favorite things about this trip is how foreign everything is. I have found Japan to be such a homogeneous place, that everyone is so surprised and excited to see a big group of American teenagers. The people here are all so sweet and run up to us in movie theaters, after concerts, in stores, and on streets, asking us for pictures and trying to indulge in conversations about where we are from and how old we are. While the culture has taken some time to get used to, it is such a friendly, welcoming one that we are all feeling completely comfortable.

Yesterday, I had an interesting experience while touring around Nagoya. A group of us were walking down a small street when all of a sudden I started to feel a stinging feeling under my shirt. In a matter of seconds, I had four strange bug bites that were extremely painful. My walking group and I started to get a little bit concerned considering the possibilities of what type of bugs could have flown into my shirt. After an unsuccessful trek to 7‐ Eleven, we finally found a Japanese drug store. With the bug bites getting worse, we desperately asked if anyone spoke English. A very friendly woman offered to translate, and after explaining to the people at the counter that I had painful bites, they asked to see them. Without going into detail, this was one of the funnier experiences I have had here in Japan. After learning how extremely modest the Japanese culture is, and after being instructed to always keep covered, I found myself standing in the middle of a big Japanese drug store in just a tank top, with five Japanese people inspecting my bug bites. In spite of the confusion and pain, it ended up being very funny. Because I kept pointing to my chest to show the bites, they were under the impression that I was I having serious heart pain, so on top of everything, Sydney frantically trying to explain that I was in fact, not having a heart attack.

You might have had to be there to understand how funny it was, but in the end I ended up getting a tube of medicine that was entirely in Japanese and the only familiar thing were pictures of bugs and the letters EX. It ended up working really well and everything was fine, but it was nonetheless a funny memory and we even got some new fans out of it because we ended up inviting the entire drug store to our Nagoya concert and they were so excited.

‐Hadley Maya

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Concerts Down, 16 More to Go!

We have received phone updates in the last day from staff on the Japan Tour, but internet access has been intermittent at the hotel where they have been staying so we haven't been able to receive any new blog updates from the choristers themselves.

There have been two concerts so far and both have gone well! The chorus was in Sendai on Tuesday and Wednesday, is in Aomori today (well, actually it's nighttime for them there already), and will depart tomorrow for Nagoya where they have their next concert on July 19th.

We will continue to keep you updated as we hear from them. There will be new blog posts from the chorus soon too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Live from Japan!

Hi Parents!
Today was the first day of our adventure! We are all very tired and all trying to work as hard as we can without screaming. Even though we all all very stressed, we are enjoying ourselves and trying to keep it all together for tomorrow's concert. We all talk about how we miss our parents and personally, I know that i miss my parents a lot. I have called them already two times but I want you parents to know that we are all enjoying ourselves. We love you guys all SO much and we want you to know that we are well.

-Moraima Avalos/Chorister

Greetings from Japan!
Everything is just dandy in the land of the rising sun. We have been working really hard but also enjoying each other's company and this new and exciting experience. The concert hall we have been singing in is beautiful and very large (supposedly it's one of the smaller venues which makes you wonder at what the large ones must be like!). Other than screaming my lungs out today trying to produce a sound (were still getting used to the new sound of the hall), my most notable experience of today took place in a bathroom. This sounds silly but many of the concert choristers had their first "eastern" toilet experience today. Its pretty much an underground toilet but a little puzzling. Although there was the option on the western toilet so it was okay. Another notable experience from today was being exposed to many people who did not speak any english. Japanese has no romantic route (with the exception of words that are english used within the language) so we are completely lost. This is why we are very lucky to have people helping us and working with us that speak the language- without them it would be utter chaos. Rest assured we are/will have a lot of fun on this trip, whilst working hard of course, and we will always be kept busy so we will never be bored.

-Hannah Chinn/Chorister

Monday, July 13, 2009

YPC is in Japan!

The choristers have officially arrived in Japan! Stay tuned for updates directly from the chorus starting tomorrow!

YPC had a busy week last week making final preparations for the trip. It was filled with rehearsals, Japanese lessons, more rehearsals, a meeting at the Japanese Consulate General's residence in NY, and even a day-long filming on Thursday for Good Morning Japan!

Below is a group picture at the Japanese Consulate General's residence. YPC spent Thursday morning there learning about Japanese culture, performing and finishing off with a delicious Japanese lunch. It was a wonderful kick-off event for the tour!

Next stop after the meeting at the Consulate General's was the filming for Good Morning Japan (Ohayoo Nippon) with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation. It was a long shoot but was worth all the hard work. The director and crew were so nice and took really good care of the YPC. The two live segments that aired were amazing. Look out for them to be posted on the blog in the next couple of days!

The picture below is Ms.Udou, the host of the NY Style segment of Good Morning Japan:

Here's a shot of the film crew in action:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Japan Tour Rehearsals Continue

YPC heads to Japan in less than two weeks! Today's rehearsal was the third day in a row that the chorus has been working with the choreographer. Things seem to be really coming together. Check out the picture of some dancing in-action!

Mrs. Onoyama was there for more Japanese language lessons as was the crew from the Japanese broadcast company, NHK. They were prepping for the filming they will be doing at next Thursday's rehearsal to be broadcast live on Good Morning Japan! They are doing a special segment about YPC and the Japan tour. The newscaster and the producer had the chance to ask some of the choristers questions about why the chorus is important to them and what opportunities it has given them. It will be exciting to see the segment air next week (even though it will be in Japanese, so must of us won't be able to understand it!).

Monday, June 29, 2009

YPC travels to Ithaca!

Thirty-six choristers from Cantare, Concert Chorus, and Young Men traveled upstate to Ithaca, NY to join the Ithaca Children's Choir (ICC) as the resident chorus for Choral Music Experience (CME), led by Janet Galvan and featuring guest artist Kathy Armstrong.

We arrived in Ithaca on Sunday night. Sophia and Amy were heading up the trip, along with Cara Bernard and our chaperones Shannon Comp and Iris Harrison -- and Steve the bus driver. The YPC choristers were off to their home-stay families -- some staying in pairs, and one house taking as many as seven of our choristers!

Today was our first official day of CME. We started the day off at 9 a.m. with a joint rehearsal with the Ithaca Children's Choir -- the choristers enjoyed a slow, relaxed warm-up and rehearsed through several pieces with Ithaca College professor Dr. Jennifer Haywood before going to work on their African drumming and dance with guest Kathy Armstrong. This was definitely the high point of the day, as Kathy taught them some call-and-response patterns - using their voices, their bodies, and the drums. Janet then led the entire group in an open rehearsal for all of the graduate conducting participants to observe.

After lunch, the participants took their turns in a conducting master class. YPC and ICC choristers gave some fantastic feedback to the participants as they each conducted a piece; Janet worked with them on their gesture and style.

After our long day full of singing, drumming, movement, and campus dining hall food, we went swimming for an hour (indoors, because it was always seems to rain in Ithaca!)
before enjoying a pizza party and heading off to the host families for night #2.

We are working towards a workshop concert on Friday afternoon -- some of our YPC parents are even going to drive up to see the culmination of all we're working on this week! More to come tomorrow......signing off for now! - Sophia

Japan Rehearsals are in Full Swing!

Friday was the first "official" Japan Tour rehearsal. After a strenuous 5 hour long recording session the evening before (for the upcoming YPC album, It Is Possible), some of the choristers took Friday rehearsal off, but those that were there were ready to get down to business.

Below: Zach, Will, Haru, and Lindsay pour over a map of Japan before rehearsal starts.

YPC Board Member Mrs. Onoyama was at the rehearsal to help everyone with the pronunciation and meaning of the Japanese pop song "Letters" they will be singing while on tour. The song is about the letter a teenage girl writes to herself that is given back to her 30 years later as an adult. It is a beautiful song and is very popular right now with young people in Japan so is sure to be a hit on the tour. Mrs. Onoyama complimented everyone in the chorus for their ability to pick up the words quickly. Must be all the music training!

Stay tuned for more updates on this week's rehearsals!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spring Concert!

Saturday night's Spring Concert was a great success! All five chorus divisions performed to a sold out crowd at the beautiful Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y.

This concert was a particularly special event because it was the graduation ceremony for all of the YPC's graduating seniors this year, many of whom have been with the YPC for up to 10 years!!!

The audience was made up of old and young; family and friends; new fans and long-time supporters alike. It was truly an inspiring and exciting night of music for all of those performing and in attendance.

Some program highlights included:

-Prelude had the crowd laughing and smiling along with their performance of Hard Knock Life from
Annie- definitely a crowd favorite!

-Intermezzo's performance of Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Grammy Award winning Requiem Mass was truly beautiful.

-The crowd was breathless after Cantare's performance of Richard Strauss' An der shonen blauen Donau
. Their mastery of German was quite impressive!

-The Young Men's performance of the South African freedom song, Tshotsholoza, gave the audience a feeling of hope and joy.

-Concert Chorus performed Picaflor Esmeralda from the YPC commissioned work
Two Mountain Songs by Gabriela Lena Frank.

-Chorale's performance of It Is Possible by Eric Dozier was an inspiring performance and the audience seemed deeply connected to the song and the performers.

-The Combined Choruses sang two songs together: Take Me To The Water and Oye and every foot in the audience was tapping at some point during those two songs (many hands were clapping and more than a few people were singing along too!).

What a great concert and congratulations to all the Choristers and especially, the graduating seniors!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Conversing with the composer - Bruce Adolphe

Bruce Adolphe and I are sitting in the audience or Bergan PAC listening to an amazing quartet of young players (ages ca. 14) discussing which movement and quarter number this is, from the infamous Shostakovich.


Bruce went up to help the quartet with their tuning and tempo, they are doing a great job! (Francisco)


 * * *

The piece I wrote for this 25th anniversary concert is very hard: the rhythms are tricky, and two of the movements are predominately in 11/16. (Francisco asked me why 11/16 instead of ¾ , which is 12/16, and I admitted that in these hard economic times, I simply had to save some notes, so I took one 1/16 out of every bar. He believed me!)


It is really amazing to hear kids ages 8 to 18 playing and singing such a difficult work. I suppose I could have made it easier, but the tricky rhythms are a part of my nature, and my music wouldn’t be mine if the rhythms didn’t swing and bounce in a certain way – perhaps it is from growing up in New York and always weaving my through traffic and dodging danger.  So I had no choice but to make the piece tricky. To see kids playing this is a great thrill. Two weeks ago, Yo-Yo Ma premiered a huge piece I wrote for him called Self Comes to Mind, and he played it amazingly & brilliantly including lots of very tricky rhythms. But hey! He’s Yo-Yo Ma not a 10 year-old kid whose been playing for 6 years! So, yeah that was great, but this is amazing!  Also, need I say that the YPCNYC is fantastic and is singing this piece beautifully and accurately.  They seem very far away in this huge theater, especially when the orchestra is in front of them --- so it is difficult to negotiate the acoustics, but I’m sure they will rise to the occasion and sing the place apart! By the way, Elizabeth Nunez (why are so many of the YPC conductors named Nunez, anyway?) is wonderful – very musical, inspiring, clear, and almost as pretty as Francisco, wait  -- I mean prettier! I have to thank Elizabeth for taking on such a hard piece. Apparently Francisco was a little concerned about those 11/16 bars, so he made her do it. But she is fine with it. So thank YPCNYC and thanks, too, to the amazing young instrumentalists of the Thurnauer School of Music who are playing Music Is so beautifully and full of energy! Also – young Chase Park, a 10 year-old cellist, plays a solo in my piece along with the chorus and piano. He is such a marvel, and I am sure we will be seeing him on the great stages of the world very soon. ( Hey Yo-Yo watch out for Chase!)




Music melts…

Time to move on to the next movement… Music Melts.  Just piano and chorus for this one.  Once again, we are hearing the sounds of YPC’s Cantare Division, the Thurnauer School of Music Senior Chorus, and the Thurnauer School of Music orchestra.  And this is Sophia Miller bringing you our live blog as the rehearsal goes on…


The strings and percussion join us as we move on to Sarasate Said.  More instruments joining the orchestration means we are having difficulty hearing the chorus again.  Francisco goes on stage to work with the chorus, reminding them to sing out and to fix their posture as well.


Time for the chorus to take a break as we rehearse a movement with guitar and solo violin.  Bruce gives some notes before Elizabeth takes the podium one more time (we had a podium brought onto the stage – everyone can see Elizabeth much more easily now!)


Some conferencing about placement of music stands between Bruce and the stagehands…


Just ten minutes left in the rehearsal before a dinner break!


I often think in music…


Rehearsing I Often Think In Music.  Elizabeth stops – she wants a faster tempo (faster tempo seems to be the theme of the day…?)


One of the children from the orchestra is soloing on the cello – he is doing a beautiful job.  His instrument sings with Bruce’s running eighth notes as he alternates between arco and pizzicato.  I think this one might be my favorite movement – the chorus sings a beautiful lyrical melody, sometimes in unison, sometimes breaking into three parts.


You are the music, while the music lasts


Final movement of the rehearsal – just four minutes left!  Lou takes the podium one more time for this movement.


Back to those familiar running sixteenth notes from the marimba as the chorus sings the words, “You are the music, while the music lasts.”


From one movement to the next, Bruce’s piece brings excitement and anticipation, as well as some haunting melodies and beautiful sounds from both the chorus and the orchestra.  Looking forward to tonight’s performance, 7 p.m. at the Bergen PAC!

YPC Cantare "Music Is"


Some of the younger children have left the stage and we are now prepared to begin Bruce Adolphe’s piece, “Music Is.”


The orchestra begins the piece under Lou’s baton, and the chorus sits.  We hear motives in this first movement that we will later hear with the text.  Sixteenth note patterns emerge from the marimba as the entire orchestra crescendos – a sforzando as we hear a new musical theme. These children are amazing musicians!  Can’t wait to hear the movements with both chorus and orchestra.


Bruce speaks with Lou briefly after this first movement, and here we go with another run-through after some notes for the marimba, and some notes on tempo.  Lou runs a few measures and looks to Bruce – Bruce nods in approval, but still needs a faster tempo.


4:49 p.m.


Elizabeth has taken the baton and we are now hearing the first movement in this piece that includes both chorus and orchestra: Music Is.  It is difficult to hear the chorus – Bruce suggests we raise the lid on the piano, and asks the marimba player to play more softly.  “You’d be surprised…” he says, “It is very loud.  You can be a little quieter.”  Meanwhile, Elizabeth tells the chorus she can use more – and while some of the younger children have left the stage, the chorus singing Bruce’s piece is still made up of YPC’s Cantare and the older children from the Thurnauer School of Music.


Elizabeth works on transitions as Francisco snaps some photos of the chorus – the balance of sound is beginning to improve.


(By the way, we interrupt the music to bring you this special announcement: if you’re parked in the South Right parking lot, please move your car or it will be towed.) 


4:55 p.m.


Starting Music Is from the top one more time – Bruce asks the chorus to be mindful of holding their notes full value, and reminds the orchestra members not performing in this movement to make sure they stay still.  Some of them are getting a little bit restless…


We can definitely hear the changes in balance – the marimba is playing more softly, the piano is more prominent…but we could still use a bit more of the voices.  Moving on…