Friday, December 16, 2011

Tonight’s Musical Journey | Closing Remarks

Tonight marks a special holiday season with young voices filling our lives and our hearts.  This evening YPC presented Angela Duryea and Carol Smith with the Volunteer of the Year Award and Manhattan Church of Christ with the Community Partner Award.  Thank you to all the volunteers and staff that helped make this event a true success! Until the next blog…signing off…Jaclyn. 

One Self I Sing

Tonight, the Chorale division sang One Self I Sing from Bloom, written by Rufus Wainwright and arranged by Francisco J. Nunez. This piece was commissioned by Stephen Petronio Company for Young People’s Chorus Of New York City.  

YPC Performs a Song by Artistic Director and Founder

The Concert Chorus division performs Cantamos Uno a Uno written by Francisco J. Nunez, Artistic Director and Founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. 

While in the Dominican Republic, select members of YPC performed with the newly formed El Capotillo chorus and performed at the National Theatre in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in October 2011.

Amani | New Division at YPC!

The Young Men’s Division and newly formed Amani division is conducted by recent 2011 MacArthur Fellow, Francisco J. Nunez, Artistic Director and Founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.  Tonight is the New York premier of the Amani division! 

Cantare Lights The Stage!

Elizabeth Nunez, Associate Conductor of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City performs with the Cantare Group, Hanerot Halalu, a Hanukkah song. The chorus’ voices light the stage with these striking staccato lyrics.  

Intermezzo Keeps Us Dancing!

Abreme La Puerta is a traditional Dominican carol, arranged by Francisco J. Nunez, Artistic Director/Founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.  This piece will absolutely bring the joy to you and your family this Holiday Season with a traditional Dominican rhythm to keep you dancing all through the holidays!  Luckily, this song is on Cool Side of Yuletide CD, so you can take it home with you if you like!  Consider giving the gift of music by purchasing the CD in the lobby or online through iTunes! 

Prelude Begins The Show!

Beginning with Let’s Have A Party from Miracle! Young People's Chorus of New York City  commissioned Victoria Bond, Composer/Conductor to create a children’s opera by children for children.  Conducting this exuberant group is Assistant Conductor, Sophia Miller.  The opera reading is this Sunday at the Jewish Community Center at 3:00 pm.  Limited Tickets Available Now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tembandumba Performance in Halstead, Kansas!

Hi! Tembandumba was one of the most exciting songs that we have ever sung. All we can say is when you sing a tough song like this don’t hold back your amazing voice. Let it shine!

Tessa, Shaina, and Ashlee

Tembandumba was a really exciting and unique song. It was incredibly fun to sing because it was a challenge. I would definitely focus on learning the rhythms first, and then tackle the words. Just have lots of fun with it! It has so many opportunities to make each different part stand out. Soloists, on the long talking solos make sure to add different touches to it like with highs and lows so that way it stands out. Have fun!


Playing the bongos was really fun but make sure that you are on the beat.


I am new to Halstead this year, and moving schools is always hard, but even more so as a senior. I really loved my choir at my old school and was super bummed to leave it. When Mr. Chronister informed our choir the first week of school that we were asked to sing Tembandumda, I was excited. It was frustrating at times, but after all the hard work I ended up enjoying performing the song a lot. Our choir is a lot smaller than my old school’s choir, but everyone really worked hard and got into it, which helped a lot. Pronunciation of vowels is very important! So just be positive while learning it and give it your best and it will all turn out great.


From the Choral Director, Ron Chronister

Wow! What an experience to learn, teach, and perform a regional premier piece!!

Being asked to be a Radio Radiance© choir and give a regional premier of Tembandumba by Paquito D’Rivera has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my music education career. I cannot think of a single piece of music that I have programmed in 35 years of teaching that has challenged me and helped me grow as a teacher and conductor more than this one. I cannot think of a single piece that has challenged my choir more, taught us more about singing, given us as much opportunity to ‘own’ the piece, or focused us on a goal quicker than this one.

First, the honor of being asked to be a Radio Radiance© choir by the Francisco Nũńez and the staff of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ was mind blowing. That was soon followed with the realization of the magnitude of the task that we were being asked to do. Fear quickly followed. That lasted until I had the opportunity to begin to study the score. Fear was replaced with wonder as I began to find the creativity, musicality, and uniqueness in the music. Planning rehearsals was a great challenge. New techniques. Unusual harmonies. Challenging rhythms. The old strategies and comfortable ways of teaching were probably not going to work. I needed to be creative myself. I needed to find better ways, more effective methods, and more engaging approaches to bring this music to life.

The kids were very excited about the honor of being asked to do this. They approached the rehearsals with eagerness and determination. They sensed the importance of their task. They respected the quality of the literature. They seemed more committed to working through the hard sections (and there are a lot of them) than in some traditional Western European literature that we have done. They quickly found the places they that liked and sang them with gusto! Rehearsals were intense, but kids left humming and with positive attitudes.

The performance was eagerly anticipated by our community, the singers, and me. With the additional newspaper and radio coverage that the honor brought us there was an almost full auditorium for the concert. We programmed this number last. After explaining a little of the background we sang. . . . . . . . . . . It was a HUGE hit!! The kids were really pleased with themselves, the audience kept clapping, the Superintendent was the first person to get to me to shake my hand in congratulation, and parent after parent stopped me to tell me “I love it!” “I’ve never heard anything like this!” “How did you get those kids to do something so hard?”

We have been invited to make a presentation about the honor, process, and product at the next Board of Education meeting and to send a copy of the concert and premier of Tembandumba to the local public radio station to be broadcast. We have given a presentation of this piece to students in our high school and the kids do not want to put it away. They know that we can make it even better and they want to perform this piece for adjudication at our spring festivals.

I whole-heartedly encourage any teacher/director that wants to expand, do something of the highest quality, offer their students an opportunity they may never encounter again, or work on the ‘cutting edge’ to consider doing a Transient Glory composition. If you are asked to be a Radio Radiance© choir say YES! This is a peak experience. One that I will never forget or regret having had!

Ron Chronister, Choral Director
Halstead High School
Halstead, KS

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Encore Performance at the White House

Today was an incredible experience. We all met in Penn Station at 9:30am, and got on the train at around 10:35am. As soon as we got on the train the rehearsing began. When we arrived in DC, we were able to get food in small groups which gave us an opportunity to get to know people in the chorus we wouldn’t normally spend much time with, besides rehearsals and concerts. After eating, we were picked up by two U.S. government vehicles right outside of the Union train station.

Driving through Washington DC was scenic; we were able to see the Washington Monument and the Capital Building, and of course, the White House. The process of getting through the gates to the White House was tedious. They had to check everyone’s passports and make sure we were in the government’s system, then individually get our bags scanned and go through metal detectors. Due to the amount of time it took to go through security, we had 5 minutes to do makeup, hair, put on our uniforms, and warm up. However, we still managed to have two incredible concerts.

During our break we had the privilege to not only meet the President and the First Lady, but to shake hands with them individually and take a picture with them to capture the moment. We went on stage one more time and sang for about an hour in the East Room of the White House. After we finished, we had about five minutes to change. On our way out of the White House, we were taking as many group pictures as possible! Once again we were picked up by the big black vans outside of the White House, and taken to the train station where we took our last group picture and departed.

-Chloe and Sofia, Concert Chorus

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stories from the Dominican Republic

For the exchange with the children’s chorus from Capotillo, I was responsible for a nine-year-old girl named Amandi.  The first time I met her, I tried to communicate the with my beginner’s Spanish (with a French accent, of course).  I tried telling her to breathe with her diaphragm and once she understood my miming, she started to sing correctly.  I also spoke to her mother who told me that she loves to sing and wanted her children to sing in the “Uno a Uno” chorus.

Singing with the Capotillo kids was extremely moving since we sang in both Spanish and English.  At that moment I had never been so proud to sing and to be part of YPC.  After the concert, they started to sing us a song saying “YPC” while clapping rhythms, which was very sweet.

Finally on our day off, we got to play, swim and interact with the kids.  We brought them presents and gave the gifts to them, not expecting gifts in return.  When I gave Amandi her gift, her mother ran up to her and slipped something in her hands.  Amandi then gave me a pair of earrings with the letter “R” for Rose.  I was so moved, every time I would see Amandi, she would give me a big hug and introduce me  to all her friends.  Her mother then came up to me when we were saying our good-byes and told me that Amandi always talked about me, always saying, “my friend Rose.”  She then thanked me for what I have done for her child.  I cannot believe that what seemed to be such little actions would make such a large impact on Amandi’s life.  Never will I forget her smile and her giggle when she told me, “Tu cantas muy bien.”

This tour to the Dominican Republic was such a learning experience.  Being able to interact with others through music is something I would never learn in school.  YPC has taught me invaluable life lessons through such amazing trips.  I am so happy to be part of an organization that helps “Uno a Uno” - One by One -  through music.  Thank you YPC.
- Rose, Concert Chorus

I had a lot of fun performing and interacting with the Capotillo kids this week.  I learned about our differences and in doing so found that although we are from different parts of the world, we have a lot in common.  The apparent poverty that many of the kids live in put a lot into perspective.  It made me feel bad that I could never have had so many advantages in my life if I had been born in a different country.  I have gained a new appreciation for the blessings I have in my life.
- Blaize, Young Men’s Chorus

One of the best things about this trip was meeting the kids from Capotillo.  Even though I speak a tiny bit of Spanish and the kids spoke even less English, we still managed to communicate and have a good time.  When they came to the resort, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.  They were all so happy playing in the water.  I realized how like us they are.  They were just as excited as we were to be spending a day at a resort.  Meeting and singing with these kids was a truly unique experience.
- Vera, Concert Chorus

I cannot believe how fast this trip went by…Hello, Nick here with another blog, this time, from the Dominican Republic!  I’m glad to say this is by far on of the most fun trips I’ve taken with YPC EVER!  Being here has been nothing but amazing.  El Teatro Nacional is on of the most beautiful concert halls I have every seen and the concert “Oye Mi Voz” could not have been any better!  I had chills during the Brazilian piece, “Tres Cantos Nativos” and almost cried during “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.  Besides being around fantastic friends, the kids from the Capotillo Children ‘s Chorus were so sweet and sincere.  Meeting them changed a part of my life as I see how children from such hard living conditions can be so happy and make the best out of everything.  This has been a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad to have been part of such and amazing trip.
- Nick, Young Men’s Chorus

When I first cam to DR, I was expecting to come out and just perform like always, but it became so much more than that.  The day I met the Capotillo children changed everything for me.  They were so eager to sing, so eager to learn and looking at them on stage singing “Cantamos Uno a Uno” with so much hope in their eyes asking everyone to listen made me sing with that much more spirit.  I wanted to help make their request heard.  This experience really changed me for the better and opened my eyes.  I had a wonderful time.
- Ada, Concert Chorus

When we first landed at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic I was so excited and ready for the concert. It was HOT, but that didn’t stop us from anything.   DR was amazing and the resort we stayed at was just phenomenal. 

Capotillo children’s chorus that was going to join us to sing songs together.  They were adorable and very eager to sing which changed me.  I really wanted to give the best of me to help them learn how to sing and dance.  My favorite memory with the was singing “Cantamos Uno a Uno.”  It was so sweet singing with them.  That was a great day because we performed a wonderful concert at the big hall and I was proud of YPC and the Capotillo children.  I felt like we inspired many people.

 The next day was just to have fun at the beach with the children from Capotillo.  I felt great when we gave gifts like harmonicas to them.  We also played with them and kept singing songs like “Oye” and “Sesere Eeye.”  It was so sweet.  We finally had to say goodbye to “our kids.”  I felt like they were part of my family.  For dinner we had a great time dressing up.  We had King Tut, and I was a Chinese box.  Then we headed out to the beach where we showed our merengue skills and dances.

I loved the trip.  I got to use the Spanish I learned.  The beach was beautiful with turquoise water and light waves.  I had a blast and I felt like we inspired the DR to keep music going on.  I will always remember this experience and can’t wait to come back!
- Christine, Concert Chorus

Thursday, October 27, 2011

YPC in the Dominican Republic!

Yesterday, YPC arrived in the Dominican Republic for the Oye Mi Voz Tour in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 

Here is the latest photo of the choristers at rehearsal!

Peter & Vanessa's Dominican Republic Trip

First, a little background about why we are making this trip.

Several years ago, a mutual friend introduced Francisco to José Santana. As Ambassador to the President of the Dominican Republic and Executive Director of the International Advisory Commission of Science and Technology (CIACT), José oversees a wide variety of projects, including Uno a Uno, which works to fight poverty by providing young people with educational opportunities. In the course of many conversations, Francisco and Jose came up with the idea of inspiring the Dominican Republic to create a diverse chorus that would bring children of varied backgrounds together, as YPC does in New York City.

The upcoming YPC concert in Santo Domingo, in addition to being an unforgettable experience for YPC choristers, will provide inspiration for the Uno a Uno program by demonstrating the artistic excellence that a young people’s chorus can achieve. It is drawing a great deal of attention in the Dominican Republic and will be a powerful publicity and recruiting tool for the local program.

To ensure that Uno a Uno is able to sustain and expand its work, Vanessa and I were invited to teach a two-day class on fundraising in Santo Domingo, specifically focusing on how to raise money from foundations. Having seen for ourselves the amazing results YPC has produced in its work with New York City children, we were thrilled to be offered this opportunity to support Uno a Uno’s efforts.

Wednesday, October 19:

After a turbulent takeoff from stormy NYC, our flight is uneventful. First impressions of DR: from the window, it looks like Southern California, where I used to live; once outside the plane, I find that it’s a lot more humid. Also, everyone is speaking Spanish, a language of which I have minimal command. This is why Vanessa and I were sent as a team: I have many years of fundraising experience; Vanessa is fluent in Spanish.

José Santana meets us at the airport. We have met before, briefly, at the YPC office in New York. He now begins to reveal himself as host extraordinaire and more—an instant friend. He takes us to our hotel on the Malécon, a broad esplanade along the Caribbean.

First night out: dinner at the Plaza España, in the Colonial Zone. A vegetarian, I eat yucca-stuffed gnocchi in Roquefort sauce (delicious!) while admiring the fortress where Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego, lived while he was in charge of the new colony in the early 1500s. We also see the nearby Basilica Catedral Santa Maria de la Encarnación, the first cathedral built in the Americas.

Thursday, October 20:

We drive about 30 minutes to the campus of the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), where we will teach our class. Sitting in the front passenger seat, I have ample opportunity to observe Dominican driving protocol. In Santo Domingo, the word “pave” (literally “stop”) seems to mean something along the lines of, “You might want to consider slowing down a little … or not.” Mysterious signals involving horn blasts and flashing headlights inform drivers of each other’s intentions. Still, it all works somehow, and we arrive in one piece.

In addition to José, there are nine students in the class. Several speak some English, others none. Vanessa and I have been worried about how effective our bilingual team-teaching approach will be. We have prepared a PowerPoint presentation and brought some handouts. Vanessa helps me make myself understood, and I surprise myself by being able to follow a fair amount of what is said in Spanish. On this first morning, we cover topics including what a grant-making foundation is, what types of foundations exist, what types of grants they make, and what steps to take before writing a grant proposal. After lunch on the campus, we start to analyze the components of a typical proposal.

One of the students, Luis, is a biology professor and recent immigrant from Cuba. The class is being held in his lab. He speaks no English but somehow manages to explain the DNA testing equipment to me during a break. Another student, Miedzarhi, is shy about speaking English but I can see from her reactions that she follows everything I say before Vanessa translates it. Cándido, also from Cuba (and a Ph.D. expert in renewable energy) speaks fairly well, while Clarissa speaks with a hint of Cockney, having lived some years in London. Rafael speaks good English but responds so intensely to one of our topics (how to create a logic model of your project) that he draws the entire class into an animated discussion in Spanish that I can hardly follow at all.

By the end of the first day’s class, Vanessa and I are relieved at how well things have gone so far, but we are also exhausted. Vanessa says she has developed a new-found respect for her own professors. We make it an early night.

Friday, October 21

The second day of class goes well. In the morning, we finish our examination of the components of a grant proposal and give the class a short writing exercise. We also talk about how to contact a foundation, how to follow up on a proposal, what to do after getting a grant, and what to do after a rejection. The afternoon focuses on research—topics like how to find foundations that might be interested in your project and how to learn about their grant-making history. We are pleased to find that our planning and pacing have worked out well and we have covered all the topics we had in mind just as our time—and everyone’s energy—starts to run out late on a Friday afternoon.

We catch our breath back at the hotel and join José and several of our students, some with spouses, at another outdoor restaurant in the Colonial Zone, this one just around the corner from the house where Hernán Cortés lived while planning the invasion of Mexico in the early 1500s. I participate in the conversation as best I can, but sometimes I just sit back and enjoy the sound of meringue pouring onto the street from inside the restaurant.

Saturday, October 22

A day at the beach. We drive east, back past the airport, to the hotel where the choristers will be staying next week. With day passes, we are entitled to use the hotel’s private beach. The water is calm and warm, but just cool enough to be slightly refreshing. We are lucky with the weather. The humidity has dropped considerably since our arrival. Vanessa notices that some people have pulled their lounge chairs into the shallow water, so she decides to give it a try. I alternate between napping and reading a fictionalized account of Dominican history by Mario Vargas Llosa.

In the evening, José takes us to a nightclub where we hear a Cuban singer perform songs that everyone else in the room knows by heart. The audience sings along with every song. One audience member comes on stage and sings a couple of numbers—and makes a very good job of it! There is a lot of banter between the singer and the audience that I can’t follow at all, but when José mentions YPC, the singer has clearly heard of us. The upcoming concert has been heavily promoted in Santo Domingo, with flyers, posters, and TV ads.

Sunday, October 23

We were up way too late to have to get up this early! Still, we get to the airport in plenty of time. We read and sleep during the flight. The flight home, at about three hours, is almost an hour shorter than the flight down. Tail winds, I suppose. Getting though Immigration and Customs seems to take longer than it should, as does the cab ride home. I get home exhausted but feeling great about the work I’ve done and the friends I’ve made. I hope the material we taught will help CIACT replicate YPC’s work in the DR. I am only sorry that I can’t be in Santo Domingo for next week’s big concert—I know it’s going to be great!