Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sets, Snow, and a Backstage Glimpse...

YPC recently performed on Good Morning America's Holiday Special, which aired on December 13, 2010.  Entering the ABC studio was like walking onto the set of a movie: there were cameras and crew members everywhere!  It was as if each of the three sets in the room was its own little universe. Watching the anchors tape various segments, we saw the hottest new items being sold for Christmas (my favorite was probably the live guitar t-shirt),  learned how to eat healthily for the holidays, and took a tour of the craziest Christmas tree designs.

As we prepared to tape our segment, we noticed a mesh contraption filled with what looked like white confetti.  Given its position directly above our heads, we quickly figured out what it was... a snow machine!  It was fun to have it snow in the studio, even though it messed up the hair we worked so hard on.  It felt like the official beginning of winter, as the plastic snowflakes covered our heads and stuck to our eyelashes.

When we finished our taping session, what did we do?  We sang our way back to our dressing room!  You can catch a glimpse of our trip backstage on the above video.  We present to you our first video upload on the YPC blog!  Enjoy!

Click HERE to see our segment on Good Morning America.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Apple concert postscript

So: What, you ask, was YPC doing singing at the Apple Store? Well, aside from the fact that many of us are Apple fans, this is yet another way that YPC is exploring new venues for youth choral music and new media to outreach to more audiences. Francisco has been seriously looking into taking the chorus outside of traditional concert halls and into unconventional venues, where people not normally accustomed to listening to choral music would discover a new art form to enrich their lives. YPC also continues to be a leader in exploring new media for youth choruses. We were the first to make our music available on iTunes and as podcasts, and possibly the only youth chorus to date to commission music specifically written for radio, new media, and the internet. YPC's goal: use new media to reach out to more people, in New York City and around the world. Oh yes, and to share the joy.

Betelehemu ends the show...

We've just sung the rousing Betelehemu, and now we're singing Share the Joy (our new single now available on iTunes, yea!!). Elizabeth Nunez is conducting, while Sophia and Amy are watching little Sebastian, who seemed impatient to get his turn to sing earlier...

Hey was that yelping from behind the house? Looks like people are getting into the spirit...

F is asking what is NY's best carol? Answer: City sidewalks, busy sidewalks....and finally, some people are singing along! YPC has touched these tough NYC hearts after all.

Happy season of joy, everyone! This has been EG again, live blogging from the Apple Store.

we are lights...

We are singing We Are Lights now, and I got to stop bugging people to write for this blog. What a beautiful, beautiful song. Pardon the silence, I must listen as well....

from a YPC parent

I knew it! Tsotsolosa always gets wild applause!

F is saying our ages are 12-18, from all parts of the city and a lot of schools.

Okay, time again for Jingle Bells. Amy Kotsonis has just walked in, right on time, to conduct this one. Hey, I just saw board member Suzan Kremer!

-- We are listening to a wonderful concert!! Our grandson Christopher is part of it! -- Ingrid, YPC parent

Most wonderful time of the year

Francisco has asked the audience to join in (a few are still a little timid, perhaps? need some eggnog?) to join us in Most Wonderful Time of the Year. There are 40 choristers here tonight, all looking NYC slick in their black outfits. Jon Holden is accompanying.

Next: oldie but goodie (from the 1600s), Riu Riu Chiu, our standard villancico from post-Renaissance Spain. F is accompanying on the tambour. The soloists are getting a wild round of applause.

OK, now get ready for Tsotsolosa, which always brings the house down. Let's see what it does to Apple. Hey, I just saw board member Shauna Denkensohn!

More on Apple concert

We're singing Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer with Sophia leading the chorus, another show stopper, Francisco playing along on the tambourine.

Okay, pirouette time, everyone! The chorus is singing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I see probably around 100 people watching the performance, maybe more -- hard to count, as the place is packed.

Now we're doing our Faure piece, which always melts the heart of this sentimental fool. BTW I see in the crowd board member Nancy Bloom, Development Director Peter Shavitz, publicity guru Angela Duryea, and our publicist Dan.

Apple concert starts

The chorus singing their own version of Deck the Halls, arranged by Francisco and Jim, right after Francisco tried to get the crowd in the singing mood. Well, this show stopper gets them moving all right. People are clapping with the singers and this glass box is filled with the sound of holidays.

Next up: Jingle Bells. We're handing out jingle bells to the kids (not enough children in the house!!) but adults will do in this case. The choristers are now spreading out around the store, and we are surrounded by the sound of angels. Amazing. And what a perfect way to perform in a venue like this.

Live at the Apple Store

So here we are, guys, waiting for our set at the UWS Apple Store. Once again, we're blogging this live!

The choristers are busy -- checking out the cool gadgets, playing Angry Birds and Pinball, surfing and emailing and Facebooking. I noticed that the most popular item among YPC choristers is --- the iPad!

Here are a few words from them:

--- we're here performing at the apple store, before we perform they're letting us play with the ipads... AMAZING - Joshua Batista

--- So one of the most unique concerts I have done is inside the Apple Store today, It was extremely different because the apple store had an amazing echo after the first ringing of our sound check went straight to the back of the store. As we have a break until the actual show choristers are checking out the newest gadgets that the world of technology is installing. Many choristers are just playing a "Fruit Ninja" Game on the Ipad. We can't wait to do many unique concerts like this one again. - Troy Wilson

Friday, December 10, 2010

Everybody now

It's time for tutti! We are singing "The Chanukah Song (We Are Lights)" -- and the entire stage is, yes, lit with candles in every singer's hands. The visuals are stunning, but the song itself is such a moving, uplifting song that should be the theme for every season.

And now: "Share the Joy," written by Francisco and Jim for Lord & Taylor's The Gift of Sharing event last November 15, where YPC invited 2,000 other choristers (from 40 choruses across 9 states) to sing with us and show how the power of music could bring people together.

"One small voice that can light the world...just one voice, one light to shine..." -- this is all we need, people, to spread the joy.

And of course, what is a YPC concert without our signature song, "Give Us Hope"?

This has been EG live blogging YPC's winter concert, Songs of the Season, from the Y. Have a great season. Thanks for joining us.

Join us this Monday as we LIVE BLOG straight from the Apple Store! Meanwhile, here are some pics from today's rehearsal:

Francisco speaks

Francisco's reading from his brand new iPad. Yea! (That's because we couldn't find a printer...) As he speaks, everyone, but everyone, is streaming on stage for tutti. F is reading off a bunch of performances coming up: the new "Share the Joy" single on iTunes, our Upper West Side Apple Store performance this Monday, and more...

Now F is presenting tonight's awards to all the people who have devoted their lives to helping us this year. Volunteers of the year: Judi Beldner, Laura Landau, and Ann Marie Nunez, who were here to help at every rehearsal, every concert, everything. Community Partner of the year: Jeremy Wladis and Paula Seefeldt of The Restaurant Group, special people with a special mission: they feed our kids! Special shout out to the Krumholz Foundation and the Green Fund, who are in the house. Guys, you all rock! Thank you!

Concert Chorus and Young Men

And now, welcome Concert Chorus and Young Men! Francisco Nunez is on stage conducting, and we start with "Deck the Halls." Those of you who saw us in Switzerland (or followed us online) remember how this arrangement by Francisco and Jim Papoulis wowed the audiences there. Next up, Concert Chorus sings the soothing, ethereal 16th century melody, "Lo' How a Rose E'er Blooming," such a beautiful song. Then it's Brahms' uplifting "Ave Maria," followed by Tchaikovsky's nimble "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."

Now we welcome back the Young Men who rejoin Concert Chorus on "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." (Backstage is fun at this point -- our young men literally come in singing! It's a party back here!) The Concert choristers now move down to the audience -- wrapping the house in sound. The Young Men are now performing Faure's haunting "Maria, Mater Gratie." (Factoid: you can hear our Young Men rehearsing this piece on a radio interview recently done about YPC -- in Milan, Italy. Check out Radio Popolare's podcast archive for more...)

Now we are on the emerald isle, with YM performing "The Sally Gardens," a rendition that could rival the most heart-rending singing in any Dublin pub. (YPC in Dublin? Hmmm....Why not?) Now we're listening to a first: "How Long Watchman," a world premiere written by composer Thomas Cabaniss (who also happens to have 2 young men in the chorus). This moving, intense song asks us, "How long will there be pain and suffering, how long will there be darkness," reminiscent of the longing of the most ageless spirituals, with some very fine solos from five of our young men.

Solveig of Concert Chorus regales us with another poem, a beautiful piece about making angels in the snow, getting others to join her, and finding the angels come to life and rise to the skies. An amazing image that will remain in our minds long after tonight...

"Riu Riu Chiu" follows. It's a 16th century villancico, the most popular Spanish musical form in the mid 1550s, mimicking the sound of the nightingale, and celebrating the Redeemer and his Mother. There are some amazing solos from our choristers here -- in perfect post-Renaissance Castilian! Next is "Betelehemu," a Nigerian carol is next. This is a YPC favorite, and we never get tired of hearing it. It starts off slow and plaintive, then becomes this rousing, percussive, highly animated call to celebration. Rousing applause! House is wild!

It ain't over till...tutti! Stay with us!

Songs of the Season returns

We're back! Our Chair, the honorable (and infinitely entertaining) Jerry Kremer is speaking, rousing the audience to a special round of applause for the performances so far. Jerry's reminding everyone that this concert is the fruit of our labors, our special gift to all the people who support us. Francisco's vision 22 years ago to bring together a mosaic of children to sing together, Jerry reminds us, is now a reality. Last year, we were in Switzerland, Wales, Japan. And we are traveling more this year. (Hey, we'll soon be at a city near you!) Jerry's also reminding everyone that we are having our gala this March at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hope to see you there!

Special thanks, by the way, to tonight's guest musicians, Jon Holden, Fabio Gardenal, and Guillermo Acevedo, and choreographer Jacquie Bird. Extra special shout out to concert producers Nancy Bloom and Kaare Christian!

from YPC parent

Incredible. The little kids are adorable. Each level has its own unique quality to them. I find the music to be so deeply spiritually moving and inspiring and it touches me deep into my soul. Sometimes it moves me to tears. The whole thing is so beautiful. It makes me feel good all over. The talent and the beauty are just awe inspiring. -- Karen Perlman, parent of Kayla, Intermezzo.

from JB Harrison

Every year it just keeps getting better. It puts me in the holiday spirit. It wouldn't be the same without YPC! -- JB Harrison, YPC board member

Share the Joy, spoken

Rebecca of Cantare has just read another poem -- actually the lyrics of our new song. "Share the Joy." This is tonight's spoken prelude to the song, just to keep your expectations up. The words were written by Jim Papoulis and Francisco Nunez and were inspired by members of the chorus. It's message: this season, we want to share more--a light, a love, and all the season's joy.

Cantare is on stage!

What an intro that was for Cantare! Elizabeth Nunez is conducting, and now we're really going round the world. We begin with "Sesere Eeye," a traditional song from the Strait Islands, followed by "Song of the Stars" -- a gorgeous rendition. Now it's "Haneirot Halalu," a Hanukkah song, with guest flautist -- the composer Jim Papoulis (who, as you know, has tons of fans around here.) Jim then takes over piano on his own song, the infinitely moving "Stand Alone," continuing the theme of standing side by side together. Our set ends with the classics "Sleigh Ride" and "The Christmas Song." And the holiday mood is definitely in the air! (Everybody got high fives backstage...lots of high fives...)

We have a brief intermission. More to come: Concert Chorus and Young Men, our annual awards, a few words from Francisco and Chairman Jerry Kremer, and our all-division tutti. Stay with us!

Prelude is in the house

Our youngest children are next! Sophia Miller is conducting this incredible group of budding artists. Their repertoire includes "Winter Song," the traditional Hebrew song "Mi Zen Hidlik," "Someone" from Two Childhood Songs, and "When You Believe." (Love the words of this one! "Miracles come true when you believe....") Their set wraps up with Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad." Hey, remember this one? We sang it last year for Dora the Explorer and got a million hits on the web site, so Prelude decided to regale the crowd with a reprise tonight. And it sounds better the second time around. Wild applause! Prelude has brought the house down!

Music is our story, a poem

We're being treated to an original poem this evening, written by Nick who's in our Young Men. Nick's poem is how stories are passed on from time to time, from place to place, from person to person, and his (and ours) is the story of music. Through music, we share our joy and our freedom, and invite all of you to join in. Great poem, Nick!

Intermezzo takes the stage

What an awesome start. Intermezzo's singing the spritely "The Sleigh (a la Russe)," which makes me want to get on my feet and dance. Amy Kotsonis is conducting, and she and all the conductors look stunning as usual! Next up is the Robert Frost poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," plaintive as an evening in a rustic New England village. The repertoire rounds up with the French Canadian folk song, "J'entends le moulin," (amazing--these kids sing French like they're native speakers). Then it's "Fairest Lady," and that old standard, Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne."

Stay tuned, the other divisions are coming soon, and then our all-division tutti performing our brand new song, "Share the Joy."

Songs of the Season begins

Good evening! YPC's winter concert, Songs of the Season, has just begun. The program is being introduced by Quentin, from Intermezzo, who's practically bringing the house down, telling the house what to expect for the evening and doing some really funny lines...and wait, he's just got a call from...Francisco, to remind people to turn their phones and cameras off....and letting people know some experimental thing that's happened to tonight's playbill...

So we're off to an entertaining start! Enjoy the show!

Rehearsals going on for Songs of the Season

Dena's here with EG and we're watching the different divisions rehearse in various parts of the Y.

EG: Looks like Cantare's going well with the division rehearsing the solo for The Christmas Song. Dena, how are the rehearsals with Concert Chorus coming along?

DTW: They're just in the other room and they sound great! Some really fun choreography going on...

EG: Sounded earlier like Francisco was getting the Young Men to get Tom Cabaniss' song perfect. What's the progress with that?

DTW: Yeah, I heard them rehearsing that a little while ago. It's going to be an exciting premiere! I can't wait to hear the full piece in performance.

Songs of the Season

It's that time of the year again! Time to be joyful, time to share the joy! And what better way to share the joy than through the gift of music? YPC's Songs of the Season begins in 3 hours, and we will be blogging it live from the 92nd Street Y.

Follow us as we celebrate the season of joy with songs from across the world, from across generations. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Felt Like a King!

I had such a great time being a part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Being able to sing with a star on the coolest float in the parade was a pleasure. Being on tv and watched by billions of people was also a pleasure! When I got there I was so excited that I did not realize how cold it was, until it was 8 o'clock and all of a sudden it felt like the temperature dropped 10 degrees!

And to think that our float didn't move for another 2 and a half hours made it challenging.

By the time the float was about to move my feet were already frozen! During the parade we had to wave the whole time (I felt like my arm was about to fall off),and I kept counting down the blocks as we went. In the end we pulled off a great show and did the best performance ever. :-)

-Malaia, Cantare

My dad and mom take me to the parade every year. I watch the floats and the balloons pass us by and wonder how it would feel to be on a float. This year my dream came true. It was better than what I imagined. I did not only ride the float and wave to millions of people (my arm still hurts from all the waving) - my friends and I sang for 65 million people on TV! I felt like a King. It was a lot of fun rehearsing at the NBC studios and at night in Macy’s Herald Square. There were thousands of people there. It was really exciting.

The cookies we got at Macy's were good too. Also, my school was proud of me. The principal told everyone over the speakers that I would be part of the Macy’s Day Parade and he told everyone to watch. There were a couple of kids in school who wanted my autograph today. When my mom came to pick me up, everyone told her that they saw me on TV. She was so happy and that made me happy too. Thank you YPC, Thanksgiving people, and Macy's for making my dream come true!!! Now I am the famous one in my family. My family watched the parade from 27 states!

- Howell John, Prelude

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was AMAZING. Standing on the float was COLD but PRICELESS. Seeing all the people waving and children smiling made me feel happy. Once in a while people would say “Happy Thanksgiving” and I would respond “Thank you” or say “You too.” After standing in the cold smiling and waving, my checks started to hurt and I wasn’t able to feel an inch of my body but I still kept smiling.

Once we got to 34th street my adrenaline started pumping more, then BAM - I was in front of sixty million people for at least a minute in a half.

Every thought started going through my head “Do I look weird?”Or “Am I going to throw up?” or “Am I singing the right words?”

Then all of a sudden we were done singing the song. I’m so glad I didn’t throw up and I’m so happy I had the experience singing with Ann Hampton Callaway at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is an experience I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.

- Kaila, Intermezzo

The Macy’s Day Parade was absolutely unbelievable. Although it was frigid and rather windy, I think we all had an amazing time. We had big smiles stuck on our faces, and our hands seemed to wave on their own after about an hour. We had hand and feet warmers that we shook relentlessly to keep the heat pulsing on to our frozen feet and fingers. As the float traveled all the way to 34th Street, I saw lots of people I knew who had come to cheer me on. At about 72nd, three of my friends all screamed my name, and I looked up to see their faces poking out the window of the 15th floor. I also saw my teacher, who had come to watch the float from one of the big windows in the Met Life Building. But it wasn’t only YPC on the float, we were lucky enough to be able to sing with the amazing Ann Hampton Callaway who made the experience all the more fun! Being aired on national TV was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget, and I will be forever grateful to Macy’s and YPC for letting me be a part of this special event. I love you YPC!

- Erin, Cantare