Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Young People's Chorus of New York City and the NYU Usingers joined forces to perform the NY Premiere of Robert Kapilow's Jabberwocky at the new Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, over two performances on Saturday, April 24, 2009.  It was a delight and special treat to work with Robert again.  He is definitely a perfectionist, but it is worth all the effort, because his music, his energy, his musical insight are all inspiring and thoughtful.

YPC has had a long relationship with Robert and the NYU 

Usingers starting joining us in the last few years as we premiere new works and sing some old ones too.  Each time we are able to sing a work written especially for the occation by Robert and we get to work with him which is the best part of the event.  From Toronto to Boston and of course NYC, here is what I remember:

2000 Polar Express in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2003 In Just Spring

2004 Translate

2005 In Just Spring

2006 Casey at the Bat

2007 ????

2008 Casey at the Bat

2009 Jabberwocky

I'm sure there are other years and several other works.  Do you remember any?

Here is a letter that Robert wrote to me just after our Jabberwocky performance this weekend:

Dear Francisco,

Somehow, though every project I have done with you turns out to be fantastic, I am always amazed each time at performance by how great, alive, responsive, and joyful your chorus is. I keep forgetting! I thought (as did everyone else at the concert) that they did a spectacular job on, what I finally admit, is very difficult music. They are such a delight to work with and, though I know I have said this many times, it is all because of you. If you could bottle up your enthusiasm, energy, and comittment to those kids and sell it, not only would you be able to afford a triplex apartment, but the music world would be in far better shape. I know that you prepared this in the middle of one of the most crazed times you have ever had--which is saying something given your normally crazed schedule--and I know what it took to get it done in the middle of all that. Watching you drill "gyre and gimble" 10 minutes before performance made me realize why I love collaborating with you. Your comittment to excellence is truly admirable, but it is the joyous spirit with which you acheive it that is what is amazing. Thank you for everything and please tell the chorus how spectacular they were. Get some rest. (Ha!) I look forward to Boston. 
All best,

Here are some thoughts from the YPC and Usingers during our rehearsal back stage.

Working with Robert Kapilow was a fantastic experience. He is incredibly animated and really puts life into the chorus, the orchestra, and the Jabberwocky story.

-Sarah, USingers


The Jabberwocky was one of my favorite childhood poems, and working with Robert Kapilow has truly brought it to life! Not only is the piece moving, but catchy as I find myself strolling down the street thinking, “Oh, what a frabjous day!” J

-       The other Sarah, Usingers


 This concert gives young children an opportunity to understand and appreciate a form of music generally reserved for adults. With the guidance of Robert Kapilow, the music of the YPC and NYU Usingers, and the orchestra, and the visual 

aid of the dancers, the Jabberwocky became something that even the youngest of children could become involved in.

-Susie, Usingers


It is my life’s ambition to spend a day alone with Robert Kapilow. He is the closest living equivalent to a teddy graham; he is small, adorable, and possibly cinammon flavored.


-James Nash, Young People’s Chorus


Things I have learned from participating in the Jabberwocky concert:

1)    The Popocateptl is definitely not in Canada.

2)    It is a fact: children officially love basses the most.

3)    It doesn’t matter if the kids dance well. All that matters is that the real dancers look good.

4)    Sometimes you don’t have to worry about hitting the right note, just make a bunch of “s” noises and Robert Kapilow, the world-renowned composer, will be more than satisfied. 

5)    Nonsense can be perfectly sensible.

            --Kayla Santosuosso, New York University Singers



今天星期五,我们唱歌唱得非常好啊!在 Alice Tully Hall, 我们跟舞者还有音乐家还有Robert Kapilow 娱乐很多的小孩子!我们很高兴!




雖然Jabberwocky似乎把觀眾設定為兒童,但是這場表演,與Geographical FugeScherzo結合,成功地讓成人也能享受這場聽覺與視覺饗宴。此表演之目的,因為這樣的組合與羅柏卡皮洛之執導,演變成一個全新的詮釋手法:透過,節奏與旋律讓人們覺得陌生的事物變得親切熟悉。

            ---焦家鴻 Justin Chiao, New York University Singers


It’s been exhausting.  I had an essay draft due yesterday night at midnight, which got extended to 3:00PM today because of my choir obligations, which in the end didn’t really help because I didn’t actually have any time betw

een midnight yesterday night and 3:00PM today.  Yet, I have developed a profound respect for Rob Kapilow.  To Rob: Great job with 

the composition and direction of Jabberwocky.  Best of luck in the future.

            -Richard Zhang, NYU University Singers

* * *

Well, what is your memory of working with Robert Kapilow and the YPC?

Francisco J. Nunez



Monday, April 13, 2009


Monday, April 13 (Two hours until the concert!)

YPC and SFGC choristers spent the day rehearsing for their collaborative concert tonight at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. When asked, “What is the best thing about this concert?”, choristers were excited to share their thoughts and feelings.

(The two choruses rehearse together.)

“We are all together and singing and I think it’s great. We sound amazing and I’m really proud and grateful to be part of this wonderful event.”
-Andrea, 16 (YPC)

(Composer Meredith Monk practices her piece "Three Heavens and Hells" with YPC.)

“The acoustics and singing in this great hall with another choir.”
-Den, 13 (SFGC)

(San Francisco Girls Chorus members take a break after rehearsal.)

“The difficulty of the music and beauty. The joy of knowing we sing well.”
-Alphea, 16 (YPC)

(YPC choristers take a break after rehearsal.)

“Being able to meet and hear another wonderful chorus from a different place and making beautifully music with them”
-Lily, 15 (SFGC)

“I enjoyed meeting all these new kids from the other chorus and uniting to perform a great concert.”
-Perry, 15 (YPC)

“The variation of music… It’s not just one kind. You won’t get bored because of the different genres.”
-Jeffri, 17 YPC)

Concert photos will be available soon on

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Two of America's top children's choruses, the Young People's Chorus of New York City and the San Francisco Girls Chorus, will come together for a blending of East and West Coast voices on Monday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.  

On Saturday, April 11, the two choruses met for the first time for a day of rehearsals.  Francisco Nunez (Artistic Director, YPC) and Susan McMane (Artistic Director, SFGC) led the combined choruses in a morning rehearsal with composer Gabriela Le
na Frank in preparation for the world premiere of her piece, Two Mountain Songs.  Both choruses also had the opportunity to rehearse their individual repertoire for the Alice Tully

Choristers from both coasts had wonderful experiences:

"We are so excited to be in New York City!  We've on
ly been here for one day and we can't wait to see more of the city." 
- Mattie, 17; Catherine, 16; Emma, 16 (SFGC)

"I enjoyed getting a chance to meet Gabriela...hearing what she had to say really helped me feel the music."
- Lenice, 18 (YPC)

"It has been wonderful to experience the sound a
nd power of two different beautiful groups of musicians coming together. To be surround
ed by amazing musical composers and artists in order to create an exquisite collaboration is such a blessing. I am thankful that we can sing together, and I cannot wait until our performance on one of the world's best stages." 
- Clara, 15 (SFGC) 

"I loved working with Gabriela.  Her work is beautiful and she is a fun person to be around.  I am having so much fun with SFGC.  I can
't wait for the concert!"
- Michael, 15 (YPC)

"I liked how Gabriela Frank incorporated folk patterns and tunes into her pieces. Audiences will really appreciate her connections between classical music and relatable, cultural music."
- Marisa, 15 (SFGC) 

"It's been a great day of rehearsals! After eati
ng lunch we taught SFGC one of our favorite games, 'Run, Run, Run, My Baby.' It was a great way to relax and get to know each other." 
- Mali, 17 (YPC)

"The sounds are the sounds of heaven!" 
- Hoc Noble, YPC Board of Trustees

"Today meeting the girls from San Francisco was really fun and I found that our choirs have a lot in common.  The joint rehearsal went well and I was very inspired by Gabriella Lena Frank." 
Meena, 14 (YPC)

"Everybody was alive today. Our voices blended beautifully and everybody singing was in high spirits. Overall today was a success!" 
- Emily Keating, 17 (YPC) 

Monday, April 6, 2009


Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ and
the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Monday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Tickets are $25.
Click here to purchase tickets.

View the program


Joint World Premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank's “Two Mountain Songs”
Commissioned by the American Composers Forum for the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, San Francisco Girls Chorus and Young People’s Chorus of New York City™

“Two Mountain Songs draws on texts collected by Peruvian writer and folklorist, Jose Maria Arguedas (1911 - 1969). These texts were preserved from anonymous poetry by the Quechua mountain people, the descendants of the Incas, for whom Arguedas advocated passionately all through his life. Lyrical and rich in metaphor, the texts have always stirred my imagination for ways to evoke Andean vocal practices within a western choral practice; and in Two Mountain Songs, my ideas find expression in the inherent beauty of younger voices.” -Gabriela Lena Frank

YPC World Premiere of Meredith Monk's "Three Heavens and Hells"
Commissioned by YPC

“Since 1965, I have been composing music for the voice as an instrument. I’ve always believed that the voice itself is a language, which speaks more eloquently than words. But when my friend Carla Blank, who co-directed the children’s dance troupe of Roberts + Blank Dance Theatre asked me to create music composed to children’s poetry, I became intrigued by the idea of setting music to text. Carla gave me a book of poems entitled Electric Chocolate written by her daughter, Tennessee Reed (whose father is the author Ishmael Reed). I chose 'Three Heavens and Hells', written when Tennessee was 11, because it gave me space to work with my own rhythms and phonemes as well as an intriguing set of images to play with. I thought the poem was both whimsical and profound. For example, what would ‘Things heaven and hell’ be like? I just let my imagination fly.

"Though I originally scored 'Three Heavens and Hells' for four female voices, I always wanted it to be sung by a children’s chorus. When the Young People’s Chorus of New York City commissioned me to write a piece, I was excited by the idea of making a new form with the material. Working with Francisco Núñez and the young singers has given me the opportunity to create different colors and textures, expand my original conception and develop it into a new entity." -Meredith Monk

YPC World Premiere of Nico Muhly's "I Drink the Air Before Me (Movement 8)" Commissioned by the Stephen Petronio Dance Company for YPC

“'One Day Tells Its Tale To Another' is the closing section of an hour-long dance piece I composed for Stephen Petronio and his company. While the dance piece as a whole deals with Extreme Weather, the text for the 8th section (presented tonight) is loosely adapted from the Anglican liturgy for the dedication of a bell-tower. Before electric lights, oftentimes church bells provided similar comfort and guidance for sailors and civilians. The text and music both end with a benevolent shimmer, on the words, ‘One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another. Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard, Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world.’" -Nico Muhly

YPC World Premiere of Toshiko Akiyoshi's "Hope"
Commissioned by Hiroko Onoyama for the Young People’s Chorus
of New York City™

“In 2005, Mrs. Akiyoshi was asked to compose a piece of music commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the unfortunate day in the city of Hiroshima. At first, she refused to write the music, because she associated Hiroshima with memories of war and unhappiness, not Jazz music. But when she was looking through a photo book of Hiroshima, she found a picture of a young girl coming out of an underground shelter, smiling. The girl was happy to see the sun after many days. Mrs. Akiyoshi found ‘hope’ in the young girl’s face. She changed her mind and decided to write the music.

“‘Hiroshima’ has three parts, and the last one is named ‘Hope.’ The words were written by a famous Japanese poet, Mr. Shuntaro Tanigawa, who wrote a beautiful poem about young people flying to the future with hope.

“The piece was premiered in a 2006 concert in Tokyo celebrating Mrs. Akiyoshi’s 60th anniversary as an artist, and was sung by her daughter, Monday Michiru. When I heard this piece in Tokyo, I thought of how wonderful it would be as a choral piece for the YPC children. I asked Mrs. Akiyoshi if this would be a possibility, and she willingly gave permission for it to be changed to a choral piece. Francisco arranged ‘Hope’ into a beautiful choral piece.

“Mrs. Akiyoshi is well respected and known throughout Japan, so I am very happy that the YPC children will sing this song during YPC’s Japan tour this summer.” -Hiroko Onoyama

San Francisco Girls Chorus will perform the New York Premiere of "Two E.E. Cummings Songs" by Augusta Read Thomas

For more information on the composers, click here.
For more information, visit