Thursday, July 29, 2010

YPC Takes on Hamamatsu

After a successful concert in Kyoto, we took a bullet train from Kyoto to Hamamatsu. YPC faced a challenge upon arrival in Hamamatsu. Hamamatsu is Japan’s music city: it is home to the Yamaha and Kawai Pianos, the Sazuki violin and many artist have made their mark in this city. Well now it’s YPC’s turn. I along with the rest of my fellow choristers were very nervous about this concert. I really wanted YPC to make its mark on the stage in Japan’s musical Capital. We prepared vigorously at our tech rehearsal and it paid off. The hall wasn’t really designed for us and was an Opera house, but YPC loves a challenge. Not only was it a great performance, but it was our best by far. We were all focused and the concert was a great success. We were all excited afterwards, but we couldn’t celebrate being that we

had a concert the next day. So we officially made our mark in Japan’s musical capital!

- Chris M.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Power of Nuance

Japan is a country of detail. From the ancient conventions of the tea ceremonies to the intricate designs in the hotel elevators, everything in the country has, as my roommate said, “so much thought put into it. Everything has meaning.” This attention to detail and meaning is something we are striving for in our music.

Nuance is the difference between a pretty concert and a beautiful concert. When we perform with meaning and detail, it inspir

es the audience as well as just entertaining. Our latest concert was beautiful because there was thought behind every note and step, and power behind those thoughts.

Japan’s details are what make it beautiful. During our Kanji lesson, we saw how significant each stroke of the pen was in creating a symbol. When my friends were trying on kimonos, I saw

how much effort was put into every fold and clip and bow. There is so much effort put into every small detail of everything, and although the details might seem singularly irrelevant, when they are all put together, the outcome is miraculous.

In America, there is a lot of effort put into quantity. Americans eat more, spend more, waste more. There is so much

stress on the big picture that details are often missed. It is so inspiring to witness a culture where a small amount of something so meticulously cared for is held so sacred.

Our music is filled with detail and thought. It is beautiful to treat each song like a tea ceremony, each chord like a kimono bow. There are more similarities then we notice between the music we sing and the culture we are surrounded by.

- Allie

A Completely Unrelated Piece on Japan and its many Subtleties

From the moment I stepped off the plane I knew I was home. Well, not technically. I’m half-Chinese, but still I feel I share a deep seeded connection with anything Asian. Different cultures? Yes, but I break boundaries. Diversity? More like diversiME. So once my feet graced the earth on the island of Japan I was primed and ready. Adventure time in Japan had begun!

Though this was my second trip to Japan with the YPC, I never took advantage of the blog. There are so many subtleties in Japan that need to be shared! So I need all of you avid readers to know many of my ideas! For instance, the Japanese have, rather smartly, replaced human vendors all over the country with robots: robots called vending machines. And these aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill “I-want-a-fanta” vending machines. No, they are a little more… enticing. Need an umbrella? Umbrella-vend got chu. Need a coffee? Coffee-vend got chu!

Need a hot coffee? HOT-COFFEE VEND GOT CHU! Sound obscure yet? Not even close. These vending machines are EVERYWHERE. From the busiest train stations to the quietest alleys, you’ll find vending robots that will spit you out tea, coke-a-cola, water, cigarettes, beer, ice cream, and even hot noodles! You can even walk into some restaurants and order your food from the automated tellers and the cooks in the kitchen will prepare your food! The machine takes your money and the chef gets your order in a matter of seconds (that is, if you can translate the machine). No need for a waiter!

But Charlie, what about all the Jobs lost, taken by these machines?! Well little John Doe, think of all the jobs made! Kiosks run by people are still very present in Japan, but these vending machines exist and thrive in the middle of nowhere! It actually amazes me that I can wander down a narrow, rural street, put a 1000 yen bill (~ten dollars) into a vending machine located in the shadows, and get my drink and receive exact change! How do the Japanese keep all these machines stocked fully? I’ve never encountered an issue where I could not get my CC Lemon or my Calpico drink! The m

achines are never broken either! At what times do they collect the money?! How is the system run?! How are they so universal? My answer: Ninjas. It’s the only logical explanation.

Another interesting observation of Charlie’s is the incredible amount of rice fields present wherever you go in Japan. Yes, there are fields all over America, but these rice fields are not just on the outskirts of small cities and towns. You’ll have a normal block of houses and then suddenly- BAM! RICE FIELD! Right there. You weren’t expecting it, but now y

ou’ve come to accept it. They are all perfectly rectangular, perfectly aligned, and perfectly all over the place. It’s like duck, duck, goose: House, house, house, house- RICE FIELD! By the train tracks with no discernable house in sight, RICE FIELD! Squished between a concert hall and a shopping mall, RICE FIELD. “Yes it’s a wonderful day outside! I think I’ll enjoy a good game of baseba-“ RICE FIELD. I suppose people need to eat, and maybe as a New Yorker I find fields somewhat foreign on many levels, but you’d have to see the situation yourself to understand. Why do these fields need to be everywhere? Who put them everywhere!? My answer: Rice Ninjas. It’s the only logical explanation.

- Charlie

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

“The Claw is Your Master: You Must Obey the Claw”

The Japanese are big on gaming: video games, computer games, arcades, and slot machines. I was just informed that recently a man married a video game character. Some even have life-sized pillows in the shape of video game characters in their rooms. So they’re really into it. We saw at least two arcades in the mall near the hotel that we were staying in. They’re loud and exciting. Lights flash as children and adults (and extremely intense teenage gamers) play their games and win their prizes. The most fun game we decided would be one in which you use a claw to win prizes. How thrilling would it be to win a little bear key chain?! And it looked so easy; you just tell the claw where to go. They looked so cute all cramped up together. How adorable. Yeah right.

Not only was it the hardest game to play (one of us did win exactly one large cheese doodle from the same kind of claw-like machine), it seemed to be the most addicting. We were able to walk away from a pogo-stick game when we were told that we were too old. And we were able to walk away from the train game when it wasn’t fun (which only took us about one and a half minutes to realize). But somehow, we kept returning to this one machine. By this time, we had blown 1000 yen (about 10 dollars) on that one machine, each time believing we were one step closer to winning the prized animal key chain. But we didn’t win anything. Yet.

After trying other games, we returned to our key chain machine. We watched another Japanese boy (who was with his mother and had, without any question, been to this arcade before). He had a bag full of prizes, so we knew he would be legitimate. He had a technique. If you position the claw to where you think it should go, you must also check the side of the machine to look at it from a different angle. Ahhhhhhh. The secret was out. We used this technique to our advantage, and, after another 500 yen (5 dollars) worth of tries, my friend finally wins the sought-after keychain. Some celebrating was necessary. We had cracked the code. Sealed the deal. Whatever. Even the little boy whom we had mildly stalked to obtain his secret strategy smiled.

As we leave, a young couple walks up to the machine. They speak Japanese, of course, but I can pretty much assume they were saying something like:

“Oh, honey, would you like one of these key chains? I can try to get one for you,” says the boy.

“Awww. That’s so sweet. And they’re so cute! I would love one!” exclaims the girl.

“OK. Here goes nothing,” the boy replies.

He wins it for her. On the first try. Beginner’s luck.

It’s been an amazing trip so far. Not only have some of us won games in arcades, but we have also had the opportunity to practice meditation in a Buddhist temple, visit a famous tea shop, and participate

in an ancient tea ceremony – among many other things. When we have free time, we can sometimes shop for all of the different trinkets that make Japan unique. And we perform for thousands of people, hoping to warm their hearts and make them feel something. It’s only been a week, but it feels like forever.

- Dani


Hello from Kyoto! After a 2 hour and 20min bullet train ride, we arrived here yesterday. In just about 24 hours we have done and seen so much! Almost directly after we checked into our hotel, the entire group made our way over to a nearby park to have a little workshop about a holiday song Francisco is writing. He wanted to know what the holiday season means to us. Many people came up with the idea that the holidays are more about spending time with people we care about and less about the materialistic world we live in. Just as our conversation began to roll, we saw a bolt of

lightning in the distance. A few seconds later,

under darkening clouds, we heard a thunderclap, and a few of us felt drops

of rain. We decided to leave the park and head back to our hotel before heading out to dinner in small groups.

This morning we boarded a bus for a day full of touring, sightseeing, and experiencing Kyoto. By 10am, we arrived at a Buddhist Zen Temple. Onoyama-san’s close friend, who lives here in Kyoto, is friendly with the Master Buddhist at the temple, and was able to get us time in t

he temple to meditate. Apparently, it is nearly impossible to be able to go inside a temple and meditate with the Master Buddhist, but all 30-some of us were able to go in for free! We had a 15 minute meditation session before taking a small tour around the tiny temple.

After the temple and meditation,

we went to a tea ceremony demonstration, where we were shown how to make green tea, and how to serve it to a guest. A “tea master” performed a demonstration on how to make tea, before allowing us choristers and staff to make tea for one another. There is so much detail and elegance that goes into making

tea. It was great to experience that part of Japanese culture in an area known for making great tea.

We then boarded the bus again, and headed to Onoyama-san’s friends’ tea shop, for lunch, a Japanese culture/language lesson by Onoyama-san, and rehearsal. Our hosts were very gracious and provided us with a delicious lunch which included inori, cucumber rolls,

salad, KFC chicken, noodles, and watermelon. After lunch Onoyama-san spoke to us about what certain parts of culture mean to her, such as language, religion, and love. She told us that to her, love is really the amount of time people spend with someone or something, for life is short, and if one spends a lot of time with someone or something one loves, one must care about it deeply. She told us she was glad we all love music so much because it is something not to be lost. I believe were all really touched by her speech; I know I was almost moved to tears.

The group took a look in the tea shop owned by Onoyama-san’s friends’ before heading back on the bus to go to the hotel.

Tonight we have sectionals, and then dinner on our own. Our third concert is tomorrow night here in Kyoto! I hope we can do as well as we did in Tokyo!

- Nora

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Misguided Adventure

It was the day of YPC’s first concert of the Japan Tour 2010.

YPC was staying at the Hotel Kurashiki and getting ready to depart for Kurashiki Shiminkaikan, the concert hall for the first concert. Since the hall was only about a 10 minute drive, taxis were the chosen mode of transportation. Everyone met in the hotel lobby, took attendance, and headed out to the sidewalk to pile into the taxis, which were ready and waiting, all lined up on the street outside the hotel.

Sophia, Jocelyn, Hadley and Jared all got in one taxi together. They settled back and relaxed, content and ready to enjoy a short cab ride through the streets of Kurashiki.

Now, this taxi was one of the last ones to leave the hotel – third to last, to be exact. But when these two senior choristers, one alum, and one conductor rode through the incredibly narrow street to the stage door of the concert hall, the parking lot was completely empty.

Sophia: “Okay…either we’re REA

LLY late or REALLY early.”

Neither choice made any sense. They could have been late, sure, but theoretically there were still two taxis behind them. And there was really no way they could have made it to the hall before the seven other taxis that left the hotel before them.

Nonetheless, they shrugged, got out of the car, took their backpacks out of the trunk, and went into the building through the stage door – which the security man was holding wide open,

with a smile, emphatically welcoming them!

With Sophia leading the way, they confidently went through another door. Then, a sign, giving them two choices: Up the stairs for the “Practice Rooms,” or through another door for the “Stage.”

Usually at the concert halls, there are signs pointing YPC to their dressing room locations. This hall didn’t have those, so they had to guess. It was the first concert of the tour – maybe things were different this year and they decided to get rid of the signs. They didn’t think too much about it, and Sophia decided: “Well everyone must have put their stuff down first.” So they chose the stairs to the “Practice Rooms.”

They got to the top of the stairs. It was very dimly lit. And there was no sign of anybody.

Sophia: “Shhh. Follow the sound of voices.

Everyone froze. But there was complete silence.


Sophia: “Okay…maybe we should have gone to the stage after all.”

Back down the stairs they went. Through the door marked “Stage.” But it just led to another labyrinth, and Sophia didn’t want to play the guessing game anymore.

So, she turned around and went back to the stage door, motioning to Jocelyn, Hadley, and Jared to follow. She asked the security man, “where did the chorus go?” He did not speak a word of English. She started gesturing to her royal blue YPC polo, saying things like “Many people!” and “Children!” and “All matching shirts!” and waving her arms around frantically and making sounds and gestures of singing.

The security man, completely confused but maintaining a big, happy smile on his face, sort of gestured “wait” and he went through the door to the stage. Instead of waiting, though, the YPC-ers followed. Another man joined them, who also didn’t speak a word of English. Finally, Hadley said, “STAGE, wa doko desuka?!” But the two men continued to look at them quizzically.

Finally, Sophia called Naoko-san (the translator traveling with YPC for the entire month).

Sophia: “Naoko! Where IS everybody?”

Naoko-san: “Sophia! We are just pulling into the parking lot now!”

Sophia: “WHAT?! I’m already at the concert hall. How did we beat you? I think my taxi driver took a shortcut! Is everyone else just coming now, too? I’ll go outside and wait for you!”

Naoko-san: “Don’t worry! We are just coming in the driveway in our taxi.”

Sophia walked outside to a parking lot that was still completely empty, with not one car coming up the driveway.

Sophia: “Naoko, I don’t see you!”

Naoko-san: “Where are you?”

Sophia: “I’m at the stage door! I’m right here! Waving my arms! Do you see me? Wher

e are you coming from?” Sophia nearly fell over trying to look in every direction at once to find any sign of a vehicle.

Naoko: “I’m here! We’re here! We’re getting out of the car!”

Sophia: “WHAT?! I don’t get it! Are you at a different entrance? There’s nobody here!”

Sophia felt like she was in the twilight zone. She was just outside the stage door, looking at an empty parking lot, and Naoko was telling her she was getting out of the car right at the stage door. Something wasn’t right.

Meanwhile, the taxi driver (who was miraculously still in the parking lot, leaning against his car) saw the four emerge from the building, and immediately opened his trunk. He gestured toward the trunk and kept repeating, “Please! Please! Please!”

Jared: “Um…..I think he wants us to get back in the car...”

Sophia: (still on the phone with Naoko) “Uhhhmmm…..”

Naoko-san: “Ummm…..Sophia? Your taxi driver is being re-directed right now. Just get back in the car and everything is going to be okay.”

Sophia: “Okay………..”

So they put their stuff back in the trunk and got back in the car. With Sophia in the front seat, and Jocelyn, Hadley, and Jared in the back, the taxi driver drove away from the hall. Sophia turned around and looked back. The other three looked back at her. Everyone was very confused.

Sophia was still holding the phone up to her ear.

Sophia: “Naoko?”

Naoko: “It’s okay Sophia. I think your driver just went to the wrong concert hall. But it’s very close. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll see you very soon.”

Sophia: (worried about how late they must be) “Okay…but please tell Francisco what happened!”

Naoko: “Don’t worry! See you soon!”

After another 7-minute drive (through gorgeous countryside, by the way), the four made it to the concert hall, where Naoko-san, Nicole, and the entire backstage staff were all awaiting their arrival. They were met with applause, hugs, and laughs about the mishap, as the taxi driver apologized for his mistake in going to the wrong concert hall. They hurried to the stage to join the rehearsal and chalked up the experience to gaining a fun story to tell!

- Sophia

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tokyo to Kyoto

It was great to finally see Tokyo outside the small area near our hotel. We first went to a temple and marketplace where we walked around for quite some time. The shrine was beautiful and very special to see. The marketplace had some awesome traditional Japanese things that were great to be able to buy and look at. Then we made our way over to the Imperial Palace. The heat was ridiculous and we were all already tired by that point. However, the palace was gorgeous. Then finally we went to Shibuya (the biggest shopping area of Tokyo.) It was extremely crowded and crazy; it reminded me very much of Times Square. We were able eto go and shop to our heart’s co

ntent and then we finally took the train back to the Tokyo Dome Hotel. I finished the night off with some delicious sushi and went to bed anxious to go to Kyoto!

- Nichole

On a Bullet Train: Kyoto here we come!!!

I just had lunch with Jamal, Stephan and Owen on the bullet train on the way to Kyoto! We get the honor of going back to where the group of ’05 went to perform at the acoustically sound Kyoto Concert Hall. It was so amazing to see a bullet train for the first time, it glistened like the moon in the middle of December…lol…no but it was really a sight.

This morning was amazing - I’m waiting for someone to pinch me because I can’t believe I’m walking up in Japan again. We’re going lightning speed on the bullet train now. I really hope that our next three concerts match Tokyo’s and exceed it. The Tokyo concert was amazing - as we sang our last note and clapped with our hands up and our faces to the beaming lights I took a moment to hear the cheers and look around at the standing ovations. It was a feeling like no other and after the show when I spoke to Isaac we both had great feelings about being performers and it solidified that this is what we wanted to do!!

- Monica

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Thoughts on Tokyo!

YPC has done it again! The biggest concert of the tour, Tokyo, was last night, and it was our second concert of the trip. That meant that, unlike last year, we only had one full concert to prepare and perfect the show before Japan’s most influential and important musicians heard us. But after a day of zen, rehearsals, and mental preparation, we gave our most fantastic show yet!

This year’s concert is unique in that it mixes many serious and “slow” songs with gospel songs and even pieces that feature “choral rap.” The first half of our show, though, is mostly serious. We sing many songs, including “Song of Ezekiel,” a Transient Glory® piece from 2005, “Vere Languores,” one of the most well-known classical songs, and “Natsu No Omoide,” which is a traditional Japanese piece. Then we literally create a rainstorm on

stage while singing/chanting tribal Brazilian and, later on, rap in Spanish. It’s an interesting mix of music, to say the least. And ending the first half, we sing “Tegami,” a “J-pop” song that was our encore last year. Hopefully, they recognize at least some of the words we’re singing.

The second half is geared more towards the audience. We start out with “Furusato,” another traditional Japanese song that the audiences love to hear. We even kneel, according to traditional Japanese customs. (This always gets appreciation from the crowd.) Then another J-pop song, “Yell,” which has become as popular among the chorus this year as “Tegami” was last year, meaning that it’s impossible to sing one line of the song without the whole group breaking out into song. I think the Japanese get very confused when they see a group

of Americans walk along the streets of Tokyo singing, in Japanese no less. After a few more serious pieces, the concert changes character as we begin our gospel set, including songs like “Take Me To the Water,” an old YPC classic at this point, “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Music Down In My Soul.” All the songs feature intense choreography and our YPC spirit that always brings the house down.

We also have three encores prepared: John Lennon’s “Imagine,” “New York, New York,” and “Oye.” We had to pull out all of them to satisfy the Tokyo crowd. After we finished the concert, everyone was incredibly pumped and hyper. We were amazed at how well we did, and it took a very long time for everyone to finally settle down enough to get sleep at all. With 12 concerts to go, we are positive that we can perform just as well at each concert, and personally, I’m excited to repeat our performance for all of our audiences.

- Lizz

Today is only day eight, even though it feels like it’s been years since we arrived in the Narita airport in Tokyo. We’ve been having a phenomenal time so far. At least for myself and for the YPC Japan Tour veterans, it’s a bizarre feeling to be back in Japan because it feels

like no time has passed since we were last here. It’s a strange feeing to realize that a whole year has actually passed.

We had our big Tokyo concert two nights ago, which we were all incredibly nervous for, and I can’t even put into words how spectacular it was and how on top of the world we all felt getting off of that stage. Although there was a lot of pre-concert stress, I am so amazed at the way in which every single one of us rose to the occasion and mustered up all of our energy and passion and put it into making the concert wonderful, and therefore, adding an incredible amount of positive energy to the trip. I think that the coolest thing for me was getting to see the kids who are new to the trip experience the magic for the first time. The minute we stepped off of the stage, a group of choristers came running up to me, gave me a huge hug,

and said with sparks in their eyes, “this is what its supposed to be like isn’t it!? We finally understand why you all marveled over this experience the way you did for the past year. That felt AMAZING, I didn’t even know it was possible to feel this way after a concert.”

That’s when I realized that that’s what this tour does to you: it makes you want to work as hard as you possibly can in order to feel something that, before you finally reach it, seems totally unattainable. Performing ends up meaning something completely different after having this experience, which is hard to explain without simply saying that it changes you. I feel so lucky that I have a chance to do it all over again.

Other than the performing, we are all getting a chance to see some very cool sights and are finally finding the balance between hard, hard work and getting to experience Japanese culture. I guess I forgot what a culture shock it is being here, and found myself surprised all over again to see Japanese people stare at us as we walk down the street, ask to take pictures with us, and try to practice their English with us. I am again seeing the faces of the audience light up and again hearing them “ooh” and “aah” when one of our speakers announce that we are all between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Most of all, I am remembering what a cool feeling it is to communicate with the audience while we perform and see it touch them in such a different way than I’ve ever seen a YPC performance touch an audience. Overall, we’re off to a great start and are all looking forward to what is to come! Shout out to Sydney, my number one roommate.

- Hadley

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tokyo Concert

Well since the trip has begun, the level of artistry has gotten bigger. I believe that by the end of this trip everyone will have changed in positive ways. Last year as I read the blogs I heard a lot of interesting things and I was extremely excited about the chorus having an amazing time. The excitement that I had Thursday night was amazing, no one let anything that we were going through get in the way of having a fantastic time. I was extremely proud of myself because I know that I was having trouble with

my voice and I had to be on strict vocal rest. I actually didn’t mind because nothing was more important then getting my voice back to do something I love and adore. There were a lot of things I had to worry about for the trip, a lot of thinking about where to stand, what note to sing and how fast to change. Francisco helped as much as he possibly could. I am very proud and pleased to be a part of the Young People’s Chorus Of New York City™, it’s great how we are bringing diversity to another country. I am the youngest on the trip and everyone shows they care and want to help me grow as a person - I feel extremely loved. I Love YPC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And extremely thankful for Min-On Concert Association!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Llangollen: Final Words from the Conductor

We returned from Wales after a journey almost 24 hours long and were immediately thrown into preparations for YPC’s 28 day tour of Japan. I have been overwhelmed by the emails, cards, and facebook messages about our time at the Eisteddfod, telling me how inspiring it was, how memorable, how special. I, too, am inspired by the spirit of joy, enthusiasm, and kindness exemplified by our YPC choristers. It is so beautiful to be surrounded by such a diverse group of people who truly enjoy each other’s company and genuinely care about the well-being of their fellow singers.

I could not be happier with our performances. Each day we worked harder than the next and the product was remarkable. Our repertoire was exciting, fun, and an expression of who we are. Many people have asked why we are no longer listed as performers in the Folk Showcase category on the Eisteddfod website. After performing, we requested to be removed from the competition portion in the folk showcase category since it seemed our program did not fit in the specifications of the category. The Eisteddfod staff wasn’t sure how this new category would work out for them either. The day before the competition, we saw another act in the Folk Showcase category and we questioned our place in the category with the Eisteddfod office and they said, yes
please perform. After the performance it seemed the judges did not understand the urban nature of our performance and didn’t consider our arrangements “folk.” The judging was wonderful, but as the category is new, our “thing” didn’t fit. So we all agreed to be expunged. The thing about America is that we have many versions of folk and in fact, each neighborhood in this city knows its own traditions, and so does each member of YPC. We performed two spirituals with an urban flavor filled with heart and soul and we will forever have the fulfillment of that performance in our memories. I’d like to thank everyone for following our journey. We felt your support along the way and came back enlightened and proud. I look forward to more inspiring stories from Japan and another exciting season in the fall!

All my best,
Elizabeth Núñez

First Concert tonight in Kurashiki!

The YPC has been hard at work rehearsing over the past couple of days in preparation for the first concert tonight in Kurashiki. The choristers had a six hour tech rehearsal in Okayama yesterday, and were able to get used to the size of the stage and hall, and practice on the special wooden risers that will be used at every concert.

We also had our first taste of Japanese food that is served before most of our concerts: salad, fruit, rice triangles (filled with fish, shrimp or chicken usually), cookies, and lots of water! The food is always very good, and many choristers who returned from last year were eager to have some of these favorites again. We then went to an Italian restaurant for dinner for great pizza and pasta, and many Japanese treats including frosty fruit drinks and ice cream.

After sectionals and rehearsal this morning, the choristers ventured out for lunch, and then have been resting before tonight's tech rehearsal and concert. There is a mixture of excitement, anticipation, nervousness, and hope that all our Japanese lyrics will be understood and pronounced well!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


So far Tokyo has been a very unique place. All the restaurants are really tiny, and every street is crowded, especially the area around the Tokyo Dome. From our hotel window, we could see all the people exit the Tokyo Dome from last night’s rock concert, and it was like a sea of people. Surprisingly, it’s been pretty easy to get around without knowing Japanese, but products without pictures are sort of a hit or miss buy. Luckily, we have Haru.

- - Chris H.

Every once in a while, I’ll experience a brief wave of déjà vu back in the States; an odd feeling of “I’ve definitely done this before.” However, returning to Japan on

another Min-On tour in 2010 after going last year has been extraordinarily familiar. When we passed through customs, we were greeted by our guides from last year: our interpreter Naoko-san and our coordinator Toyama-san. After that, we were bused to our hotel, and we were reunited with the President of Min-On, Kobayashi-san and the Vice President, Anakoji-san. We were then read the ceremonial welcome letter from

Min-On Founder Daisaku Ikeda. The spirit of Min-On is behind YPC, and the pressure to succeed is upon us. I don’t think that the trip this year is going to be exactly like last year’s, feeling that first rush of nostalgia was what really started this trip for me, and I’m sure it brought back memories of last year’s tour for many others on this trip as well.

- Will

Tomorrow brings us back to Okayama for our first tech rehearsal. We flew into Okayama from

Tokyo today, and were able to drive through the city, visit one of the parks next to a beautiful Japanese Castle, and then enjoyed a delicious Japanese buffet! It was actually quite amazing how adventurous everyone was being with the food, and many choristers tried new things - in some cases they weren't even sure what they were eating! We are staying in Kurashiki which is an hour away, and will drive to the tech rehearsal tomorrow, have dinner in Okayama in the evening, then back to Kurashiki for sleep before our first performance on the 20th!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

YPC Arrives Safely in Tokyo!!

After about 21 hours of traveling, YPC arrived safely in Tokyo. The flight was uneventful, and most choristers managed to sleep at least a few hours over the course of the 13 hour flight. Excited with anticipation, many found it difficult to sleep right away, especially still being on NYC time. When we touched down in Tokyo there was applause as we were not only happy to arrive safely, but more than ready to get off the plane!

At the airport we reunited with many of our friends from last year's tour, and there was much hugging and catching up while we waited for everyone to get their luggage and load the bus. We are thrilled to be back with Min-On this year, and were greeted by a few members of their staff - both familiar faces and those that we will get to know over the next month. We were also joined once again by YPC board member Onoyama-san, who is always so helpful to the children and staff, and is especially working with us on our Japanese for our concerts! We're so excited to have both our guide and translator back from last year - Toyama-san and Naoko-san.

We arrived at the Tokyo Dome Hotel where we will be staying for a good portion of our trip, though only for one night this time around. We had a wonderful reception with more members of the Min-On staff with a fantastic welcome by their President. The choristers put their uniforms into the road boxes that will travel with us over the course of the next month as they had to start driving tonight to get everything to our first concert l
ocation in time.

After that it was dinner in chaperone groups - the first official Japanese meal! The choristers said they were excited, though by the time dinner ended jet lag was really kicking in and they were a little lethargic. We then had a short rehearsal in a very unique location: the wedding chapel at our hotel. It was the only open space that was available for tonight, and definitely goes on the list of unique rehearsal spaces that YPC has used. Last week was a parking lot, tonight a wedding chapel... I can't wait to see what's next!

Tomorrow we depart for our first concert destination in Kurashiki - we board a bus in the afternoon, take a flight to Okayama, then another bus to our hotel. We'll have more rehearsal, and then have our first tech rehearsal the following day.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon, and for now we say Konbanwa!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Final Thoughts

This trip to Wales was truly unforgettable. I am a senior in concert chorus and I’m going to college in about two months. I had a blast hanging out with Cantare and getting to know everyone on this trip! The trip was especially great for me because I had a chance to give back. I had been where they are only a few years ago! I knew how it felt to be in their place.

In 2008 when I was in Concert Chorus I had a chance to go with YPC on a trip to Austria for the World Choir Olympics. We went to Graz and Salzburg and stayed in different hotels. It was an amazing experience competing with different choirs from all around the world. All the choirs were so amazing and I met some great people that I still talk to today. This trip reminded me of Austria a lot because we were competing with different choirs from all over the world and talking to people from all around the world.

I know the feeling of winning and losing. Sometimes you win and sometimes you loose. The point is to try your best and work your very hardest. If you come off a stage feeling amazing then you know that no matter what you did your best and you worked hard and that’s what counts and that is what is most important. In the last competition we came off that stage feeling great, we did it. I was so proud of everyone and I felt great. I am going to miss YPC so much because it is so special to me. Being in the chorus is a life changing experience – there are so many things you learn beyond singing and I am so grateful for being a part of something so great.

- Andrea

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thank you YPC!

This trip is so fun. Sharing rooms with friends is the best. Victoria P. and I staying up all night talking about life and how it’s going. The dance party was the best last night. We were dancing, singing, and calling people to dance. The competitions were awesome. We played a game called “Run, Run, Run My Baby” with China, South Africa, Wales, Australia, Poland, Holland. We all harmonized and it sounded so nice. This trip really made me feel good. I actually talked to people and stopped being anti-social. Thank You YPC!!

- Inessa

The last day we get to have fun. I will miss this place. This opportunity allows us to

get to know each other. We had some good times and bad times. But we all stay together. We all love each other and had a great time. I loved when we all had parties, dinner and lunch we all together. Although we didn't come in first, we are still winners and we tried our best. The most important thing is loving and caring for each other. Love you Wales, Llangollen wales and thanks bye.

- Divine

This trip has been so much fun!!! I have talked to people I never talked to before and my already existing friendships have grown stronger. The sights are amazing and the people here are so nice. I’ve met people from Hong Kong, Poland, California, Seattle, Holland, Australia, and South Africa. They were all so cool! I learned a lot about how they live which is surprisingly not that different from us. Another part of the trip I loved was the competitions. Even though we didn’t place in the top 3, we still did our best and had fun and did it New York style!! We played “Run, Run, Run, My Baby” and it became so popular!! Little kids were even singing it in Welsh! Also, the food here was really good. The lunch and dinner on the grounds was questionable, but the crepes and the fish and chips were delicious. The dance party was so fun and I’m going to miss everyone here. Overall, this trip has been fabulous!! I loved it and although I want to see my family, I‘m sad we have to leave tomorrow. Thank you YPC for such an amazing trip!!

-Rebecca H.

It’s funny to me that a week ago we had just arrived in London, jetlagged and unaware of all that would soon happen to us. Over the course of this trip, it’s been a constant source of joy to me to see all of us as a unified family. I have to keep this short, but what’s important is that even when we don’t get the results that we want, we are there for each other, to experience world cultures and become one family of musicians and people. To make all of these friendships with choristers from around the world has shown me that music breaks all barriers. Thanks YPC!

- Melissa

Friday, July 9, 2010

A New Rehearsal Space?

YPC is in final preparations for their last competition today at 3:15 p.m. Llangollen time (10:15 EST!) and were fortunate to find some generous Welsh people who loaned us their parking lot for a few hours to rehearse! The final competition is the Folk Showcase, and will be a combination of dancing and singing, all choreographed by Jacqueline Bird. The other groups in the categories are both choruses and folk dance ensembles, and it will be interesting to see what the other competition is like. Be sure to tune in to Llangollen t.v. to watch YPC live about 10:15 a.m. EST!

Friends. We are just completely surrounded by amazing new friends. We seem to be popular among the numerous amounts of choirs, who have all been so wonderful to know and meet. It was Vera’s idea (just wanted to let people know), we created a HUGE game of “Run Run Run My Baby” and at least 40 people came, made up of mostly kids from different choirs. They seemed to love the game and we overheard them dancing to it around the rest of the festival. Jamie even heard them translate it into Welsh! We love saying hi and high-fiving all the little kids from around the world as we walk through the beautiful and exciting streets of Llangollen.

- Erin

Wales is a ton of fun. Yesterday, we started a big game of “Run Run Run My Baby.” We got people from like, 4 other countries and later that day, Jamie saw some kids playing in WELSH! All those kids always say that they love “The New Yorkers!” Those little kids are amazing and fun to talk to. Also, The British School of Amsterdam were so nice to us! They even gave us their school mascot! Elizabeth asked them why they gave it to us and they said, “Because you are the best!” Overall, the trip has been extremely fun and I have had a blast!

- Greg

Preparing for the Last Competition

I am having so much fun despite the early mornings, and no sleep. Yesterday was a good and bad day. We thought we rocked it on the junior chorus category but the judges didn’t think so. They placed us eighth. The most important thing was that Elizabeth was very proud of us. Hopefully we make her proud again in the folk category!

- Kalia

The feeling of being here is a mix of chaotic emotions, long rehearsals, and meeting new friends from around the world. We did amazing in the senior children’s choir category, coming in 5th place (or technically 6th because of the 4th place tie breaker). We had a concert that night, but that didn’t go very well… The junior children’s choir category was disappointing, despite us doing great, we just needed to put on an English accent to win. Today is the folk show competition, and no one knows what to expect.

I mentioned before that we met a bunch of cool kids. The British School of Amsterdam has a choir, and they seem to have become our choir’s best friends. Also a few of us

have met more kids from other places, like Australia. If YPC could win in anything here, it would be for being the friendliest choir here.

The words of “Run Run Run My Baby” have been the most popular on the Llangollen grounds. After playing it twice yesterday, we hear little welsh kids screaming, “The New Yorkers!” and Jamie heard them translate it in Welsh.

Overall this has been a great experience (soon to be topped off with a horse drawn boat ride), but hopefully we will place!

- Ariana

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Junior Children's Choir Competition!

Watch YPC LIVE on Llangollen t.v. on Friday, July 9 at 10:15 a.m. EST!

It’s really beautiful here in Wales! Every morning we pass a tall hill, which has ancient ruins on it! Yesterday was fantastic and we were the best we could be. In fact many of us were crying because we performed so well! Today the 13 and under kids are performing at 9 o’clock in the morning and right now it’s 8:18 in the morning and some of them haven’t left yet. Every chorister is going to watch them perform and although we would really like to scream and yell for them we aren’t allowed to do anything more then a polite clap! We’re all having a great time socializing with all the different children from foreign countries. Yesterday we talked to people fromSri Lanka who were extremely nice, they sang a song for us as we were leaving to perform in the concert. We are all enjoying ourselves immensely and we miss you all!


Throughout our rehearsing Elizabeth has told us many stories about what happens to people after they give their all in a performance. She says that people break down, start shaking, and cry hysterically. Before yesterday, Wednesday July 7th, I didn’t understand why someone wo

uld do that. When one does their all I would think they would be immensely happy, but not to the breaking point that Elizabeth says people are. My mind was changed yesterday. We all have put our all into all of the songs but I was especially attached to three songs: Panta Rhei, Picaflor, and An Der Shonen Blau en Donau. Yesterday we performed the first two of those songs. Right before I entered the stage I was the most nervous I had ever been for a perform

ance. I got on the stage and halfway through the first song my knees started knocking together. I could barely stand but I couldn’t give up. The rest of the performance I concentrated on not falling down. The last clap happened and our hands were up. I was beaming with pride. We had done it. I walked offstage. My eyes started watering and I couldn’t breathe. I looked around. Everyone’s eyes were wet; people were out of breath; we had done it.


Senior Children's Choir Competition!

Well today is the second day of competition and it is the 13 and under group. Yesterday we got in fifth place in the senior competition!! I am very nervous about what is going to happen today. It is going to be a challenge because there are really talented groups in the competition. Well I had fun during competition yesterday and I hope that today we will have the same heart and energy that we had yesterday. I hope we knock the judges off their feet.

- Ange

OMG!! I think we did such an amazing job! Although we didn’t have the energy during most of the rehearsals, we really turned it on! I felt the vibe coming off of everyone on stage, which is why we all had the same level of amazing energy!! Although we had a few slip-ups, I still feel like we did our best! As soon as we got of stage, I started shaking and crying, the adrenaline was so inten

se! There are so many great choirs here as well, the wardrobe is so beautiful, and colorful! It was such a cool experience to be able to talk to people all around the globe, at once. They’re so friendly, and a now I know Americans aren’t the only people who imitate other cultures. I heard a few British people imitating the “American accent”! Although I really wanted to win, I really wanted to congratulate the choir that won, we weren’t able to hear you all, but you obviously did a great job! And just a little side note, Altos specifically got a compliment, which was our own personal accomplishment! We were really proud of ourselves.

- Nia

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watch YPC's Performance from today, and tune in tomorrow at 4:15 a.m. EST to Llangollen t.v.!

Tune in to Llangollen tv - - to watch the YPC's performance from this morning in the Senior Children's Choir Competition. The choristers awoke bright and early, had a good breakfast, and held a short warm-up in our new favorite rehearsal location - the pub next to our hotel! They have been most gracious in accommodating us and clearing out space in the restaurant since our hotel has no meeting rooms to rehearse. Then our wonderful chaperones Shannon, Nancy and Virginia taped out the risers onto the pavement next to our hotel so the choristers could practice walking on and off stage and fine tune their formations. The coaches (don't ever call them buses here!) picked up the children and brought them to the festival grounds.

We had the opportunity to watch several of the other choirs that were competing, and they were amazing! There were ensembles from Sri Lanka, Australia, and even some fellow Americans from Seattle and California.

YPC was the very last performance in the category, and what a great way to end the afternoon of competition! The first piece, "Picaflor Esmeralda," was very expressive and was one of the best performances of that piece that they have done. So many aspects of the piece locked in, and it really painted the picture of the hummingbird, and the imagery really came through. Jim Papoulis' "Panta Rhei" was powerful and energetic, and truly emoted the "in flux" atmosphere of the piece.

After sitting in suspense through the comments of every single choir in the category, they finally announced everyone's score. YPC placed 5th out of 21 choirs in the Senior Children's Choir Category!

Tune in Thursday, July 8 at 4:15 a.m. EST to watch YPC compete in the Junior Children's Choir Competition on Llangollen t.v. -

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Watch YPC live on Llangollen t.v.! 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 7!

The choristers from YPC are currently sleeping and resting up for their first competition on Wednesday in the Senior Children's Choirs competition. We arrived in Llangollen this afternoon and went directly to the Eisteddfod festival grounds to march in the Parade of Choirs that went through the entire town of Llangollen. It is an absolutely beautiful small town over a river, and literally the entire town turned out for the parade - it was packed!! The choristers marched through proudly wearing their YPC t-shirts and waving American flags, and discovered that even as far away as Wales, they love New York! YPC treated the spectators with their great rendition of "New York, New York" as they walked through the town, and many locals joined in and sang as well.

The choristers were able to explore the festival grounds after the parade, and met chorus members from all over the world - they've already made friends with children from China, Australia, England, and of course Wales!

YPC is ready and excited for their performance tomorrow, and we hope you'll tune in to Llangollen t.v. to watch their performa
nce Wednesday, July 7 at 9:15 a.m. EST at!