Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jim Papoulis is in the house!

Jim is the rock star of the Satellite program. When he's introduced by Elizabeth, I swear the kids were screaming!

It's workshop time, kids. We began this feature in the concert last year and the response was so warm (and the song Jim and the children wrote was so beautiful) that we decided not to give Jim a choice and have him come back.

Jim's like the pied piper -- he can mesmerize the kids so that their eyes are all glued to the stage. No kidding. The lovely Sophia is once again the official scribe, writing lyrics as the song takes shape on a blackboard on stage.

Jim: What is a song?

Answer: Something musical that can express your feelings.

First lesson: rhythm and syncopation.

Jim: If you have any idea you would like to say to the older generation, what would it be?

Answer 1: I love my Mom.

Jim: Do you think that your parents always listen to you?

Everyone: Noooo!

Jim: What else would you want them to do?

Answers: Believe in me. Be more respectful to me. Listen. Understand. Trust in me.

The ideas keep coming from all sections of the hall. Here's how the song is shaping up:

If you understand
Who I really am
Then you need to
Believe in me

Now we're trying it out with drums -- and boy, this is getting to be a really catchy song. That was the refrain, so now Jim is working with the kids on the rest of the song. Here's what's happening:

Do you know who I really am
Listen and you will see
Listen and you will hear
Watch me and you will see

And that was our mini-song! And everybody's singing our anthem, Give Us Hope, as they file out of the hall, with Francisco showing a Satellite chorister how to conduct on stage.

This has been the live blog of YPC's Satellite Schools Concert. Thanks once again to Travelers for making this possible. Thank you all you out there for being with us!

(Live blog and blog pics by Eric G.)


You got to hand it to this school. They've been with our program since 2003 -- one of our founding members, in effect. Principal Lily Woo has been so invaluable in helping us grow and develop the program. They're here today with an astounding chorus of 130 children, who've come all the way from Chinatown! Elizabeth is conducting with guest pianist Emily Ma -- a 5th grade prodigy from the school. Go, Emily! (Trust me, you will be hearing a lot about her in the near future -- she's totally amazing.) The chorus is performing Ed Harris' The Lion and the Unicorn and Lionel Bart's Consider Yourself, that catchy tune from Oliver! This performance is very impressive, really. And when they perform their next song, once again you hear the entire house rocking. Energy and talent, what a great combination.

New Jersey Senior Chorus

This is a select group of 10 children from New Jersey, members of one of YPC's affiliates. Emma Brondolo, conductor, was with YPC for 12 years! And now she's conducting her own chorus! They're performing Margaret King's The Unsuitable Suitor, and Allan Naplan's Al Shlosha D'Varim, which begins with a truly heartwarming solo. They're an amazing group and we're all very happy they're part of YPC's extended family.


Okay, this is now officially called the Blog of Cute. The cuteness level at the Kaufmann Concert Hall is so high right now. We'll be posting more pics soon so stay tuned.

PS69 is next! Our Satellite program at this Bronx school was established only last February. Sophia conducts all 80 of them who are able to join us today. They're singing Jim Papoulis' When I Close MY Eyes and Francisco Nunez's Abreme la Puerta. "Climb the highest mountain and go there with me," that's what Jim's song says, and it seems to encapsulate this year's concert, if not the entire program itself. Now the chorus is rocking the house with their rendition of Abreme, handclaps and all. And guess what, the entire house goes rockin' with them! Wow, you should hear the cheering in this room. Unbelievable.


I saw these guys in concert at PS75 a couple of weeks ago, right in their brand new auditorium refurbished by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council Member Gale Brewer. I've been looking forward to hearing them again as that concert was quite memorable. The school has been with the program since 2005. There are 135 children on stage! Amy once again conducts. They're singing Nick Page's London Bridge and Fairest Lady -- two quite challenging, multi-layered works that these children do so well.

If you are reading this blog, you are reading it LIVE from the Y. Drop us a note or check out the other programs we do. We have a lot of other concerts coming up!


Jon and Francisco teach the HS515 singers how to rock the house.

These guys gave me a pop quiz earlier when they came. I asked them where they were from, and they said "the only high school in the program." Yes, HS515, which has been with the program since 2004, are our "older" brothers from the Lower East Side. Jon is conducting Andrae Crouch's gospel song Soon and Very Soon. Followed by the classic Galt McDermot anthem from Hair, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In. Earlier during their warm up, Francisco was trying to teach these teenagers how to swing with the song. Seems like they did learn a few steps and yes, they're rocking and letting the sunshine in. Great work, guys!


PS198 have only been with the program for five weeks! They're right here in the same neighborhood as the Y. YPC was able to start a Satellite Program there with the support of NY Council Member Daniel Garodnick. What an amazing delegation this is -- I can't count them, they're filling the entire stage! Last I heard there are 120 of them. (The parent beside me says, "Oh my God, the stage is full!") Sophia is conducting and they're performing Jim Papoulis' Be With Me. One thing for sure, these kids are so excited to be here, and there's a lot of unbridled energy on stage. Good thing the next song is Dodi Li, following Jim's plaintive and meditative song, so now they can rock. And rock they do. (I see one boy in front who looks like he wants to start dancing.) Great work, guys! Five weeks, did you say? An amazing five weeks!


Since 2006, PS1 from all the way on the Lower East Side has been part of our program. Amy conducts again a small but awesome representative chorus of 18 children. They're singing Ca' the Yowes. (Hmmm, I forgot to ask Amy what this means--but no matter, the music and the performance speak for themselves!) Next up: Emma Lou Diemer's Bee! I'm Expecting You, a buzzing little song that's delivered with such aplomb.

Guest chorus from New Jersey

Next up: our extended family from New Jersey, YPC's affiliate chorus conducted by a YPC alumna, the ever stately Emma Brondolo. They've only been with us since 2009 and they sent a really wonderful delegation of 18 singers. They're performing Manx Lullaby and I Am a Small Part of the World, by Sally Albrecht and Jay Althouse. OMG, the opening solo is so charming! We are so thrilled to have you guys with us!

BTW, a big thank you to pianist and guest conductor Jon Holden, and to pianist Michael DiGiacinto, and drummer/percussionist John Hadfield. Thanks, guys!


Now it's Brooklyn's turn, PS268 is singing Two Childhood Songs by Randall Thompson, led by conductor Sophia Miller. PS268 has been with our program since 2006 and the program there is supported by a CASA grant from the NY City Council. And well worth it! Their version of Mark Patterson's This Shall Be for Music is simply heartwarming!


PS/IS178Q led by Amy Kotsonis is performing Haida and Blue Skies, and we're off to a good start. The chorus sounds amazing. These guys have been with the program since 2008, virtually newbies, but they sound like they've been singing forever. Go Queens! Great job, Amy!


First performance is Aaron Copland’s Ching-a-Ring Chaw, with all 800 children singing the tutti, led by Francisco. The chorus from PS/IS178Q is already on stage. We begin with a warm-up, very meditative actually, “feel gorgeous,” Francisco tells the kids. Amazingly, the kids do calm down to performance mode. Hmm, Francisco as relaxation guru? Who would have thought?

Francisco is saying the title of the song was meant to be just fun words, and children from 200 years ago have been singing the same tune. And now our children are doing the same thing. Wish the Copland Fund people were here -- they also support our program and they’d agree Copland himself would have been pleased with this performance.

Welcome one and all

Elizabeth and May Wellington, program director from the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer

Satellite and Partner School Director Elizabeth Nunez is welcoming the crew, who manage to pop out of backstage to wave and say hi to the kids. Also our YPC staff, including the indefatigable Kaare Christian and Nancy Bloom, and the rest of the gang. Raucous cheers when the conductors are introduced -- yes, the kids love our conductors like mad and they are all so excited to be here. Some of them have been singing with YPC for 3 years now. Some have been singing for only 5 weeks. And many of them have never been in a concert hall as huge and prestigious as this, and the excitement and energy are really palpable.

George Nemeth, YPC trustee, is introduced. Welcome, George!

Live from the Y: our Satellite Concert is happening!

Three gentlemen: YPC Artistic Director Francisco Nunez, YPC trustee George Nemeth, Travelers' Jim Anderson.

This year’s concert is called Listen to Our Story, and Francisco begins by telling his own.

Francisco’s telling the children how his own mother bought a rinky-dink piano to make sure he would learn music -- and now he and YPC are doing it for all these children.

He’s also welcoming all the guest performers and VIPs with us this morning. Jim Papoulis, legendary songwriter and workshop master. The NY City Council, the DCA, May Wellington from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Jim Anderson of Travelers, who is sponsoring this concert.

Francisco is presenting a plaque to Jim in recognition of Travelers' support for our children, and the infinitely dashing Jim is now saying, “Believe it or not, in spite of all this white hair, I used to be young like you! What you guys do is inspirational. Through music you learn to communicate with each other. You make the world a better place to be.”

Pop quiz from Jim: What does Travelers do? Amazingly, one child responds, You are an insurance company. Jim gives him an A+. Yay!

Live from the Y! Listen to our Story! YPC Satellite Concert 2010!

Just some of the 800 snack boxes we prepared for today's concert. Special kudos to wonder woman Nicole Arbes.

There are 800 – count em! – 800 children from YPC’s 8 Satellite Schools and an affiliate chorus from New Jersey in the Kaufmann Concert Hall today. They’re from Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and New Jersey, and it’s a contest to see who can cheer for their nabe the loudest.

YPC Artistic Director Francisco Nunez is onstage to welcome everyone. “I’m so glad to see so many beautiful faces here today,” he says. Everyone’s cheering and the cheering is so loud you'd think the house was on fire, and Francisco jokes, “The conductors are probably not very happy with you right now!”

We are live blogging this event, so if you're out there following us, send us a message. And yes, really wish you were here!