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