Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bienvenue à Paris!


We’re so excited to be in Paris on our way to Normandy on Monday.

Traveling with YPC is like moving the troops. So many people, so many instruments, and boxes and boxes of everything necessary to make every trip successful.  At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, selected YPC choristers began gathering at the 92nd Street Y to begin the process for their latest trip, this time to France for the Polyfollia Choral Music Showcase.  The check-in process was set up like a bucket brigade. First Sophia checked the choristers’ passports.  Kerry double-checked that every part of each chorister’s uniform had been packed.  All pieces of luggage and every box were weighed to avoid any penalties, and after music binders were passed out and the bus loaded, YPC was on it's way.

The flight from JFK to Paris was picture perfect.  However, we were in for a surprise after we had picked up about half of our luggage.   Oh no!  Luggage handlers and air traffic controllers went on a sudden strike protesting job cuts.  Some of our luggage was still on the plane, and the airport was locked down.

The dispute was resolved fairly quickly, and we arrived at our hotel to another surprise:  waiting to greet us were two former choristers now living and working in Europe:  Dena and Celeste!

Rehearsals for our Normandy concerts are going very well, and we’re all looking forward to sightseeing here in Paris tomorrow.

- Sheldon Ogbourne, Conducting Fellow

Photos by Christopher Hall

Friday, October 19, 2012

YPC Boy's Weekend Retreat

I had a great time at Camp Mason a couple of weeks ago.  It was good to see all my friends in Cantare and the ones that have moved to other divisions.  The bus ride was really fast and we got to camp in no time.  When we arrived, we all went to our cabins and unpacked our stuff.  We went to lunch and started all of the activities.  I really loved the rock climbing.  This time, it was a little challenging because I picked the most difficult climb and I had hiking boots on. I wished I had my sneakers.  It took a little longer, but I made it all the way up and felt like the king of the hill! The other activities I liked were in the low ropes course.  It was neat how everyone helped each other out in the course.  The moving net was tricky but really a lot of fun. Felipe from Intermezzo was the fastest one through it.  My friend Raphael from Young Men gave me tips on canoeing and together we were as fast as a speedboat.  Now I am ready to challenge my Papi to a race! 
The camp was really a lot of fun.  I got to meet other kids from all over the city.  You can stay up to 11pm and get up early to play basketball.  You have time to talk, play and joke around, and get to know everyone so much better before going back to weekly rehearsals.  I can’t wait till next year again.  Thanks YPC!                                                                               
-          Howell John, 11, Cantare

The outdoorsy environment of YMCA Camp Mason was very different from the city environment we are all used to but it was also a key part of what made the trip such a good experience. The secluded spacious environment pushed us to be active. It also allowed us to bond with the younger kids, our peers, and the staff of YPC. We connected over activities like the low ropes course, Capture the Flag, kickball (otherwise known as “Kick it in the Thicket”) and canoeing, which I did for the first time. We also bonded over the campfire as we roasted marshmallows and made our own s'mores, and enjoyed the talent show where we got to showcase our talents from singing to impersonations to card tricks. My personal favorite activity was the Scavenger Hunt. The YPC staff did an amazing job putting together this year’s trip. I am very glad to say that I was there to experience it!
-          Jamil, 16, Young Men

This year's YPC Boys Retreat, September 29 - 30, was held at Camp Mason in New Jersey. When we arrived we split into teams, each team had a color and a flag. We were given strips of fabric of our color to make crazy costumes and decorations for ourselves.
We played many games and the winner would be awarded points for their team. Archery, the Low Ropes, Kick it in the Thicket (also known as kickball) and a great adventurous Scavenger Hunt... these are just a few of the great games we played.
At mealtime there were plenty of fabulous choices- baked ziti, pizza, salad, soup, Peanut Butter and Jelly and other great choices. We roasted marshmallows during the bonfire and just had a blast.
Overall the YPC Boys Retreat was awesome!  It was a great experience and it gave me a chance to meet many new and old choristers. Next year I hope that we can have another one just as fun.
-          Adam, 9, Prelude

Our great and energetic weekend at Camp Mason was full of unity, and good old fashioned American fun. This weekend has brought all the boys in each division closer to their younger and older peers.  We were divided into four teams: the blue team, the green team, the yellow team, and the red team. During our talent show, we were treated to a variety of performances by some of our fellow choristers. The performances ranged from that of the Chinese yoyo called the Diablo, to songs by Adele sung karaoke style, the sweet tune of “Hotel California” being played on acoustic guitar, the staff of YPC singing “Chili Con Carne”, and the older boys singing “This Little Light of Mine” with Francisco and the audience.

            The activities were things that most of us don’t normally do, such as canoeing, archery, and rock climbing. While canoeing, we worked in pairs to paddle the boat. In the woods, we took part in a low ropes course which included things such as swinging from one platform to another using a rope. Rock climbing was an all-around YPC team effort, in which teammates, chaperones, and camp’s staff cheered climbing choristers on, with camp staff holding the rope on the ground as we climbed away to get to the top. Two activities that we all really enjoyed were kickball and capture the flag because it took the whole team to make a strategy and carry it out. The green team learned Francisco’s secret techniques and strategies to win, while the blue team had Johnny to help them with his skill and speed. One of the best events was the campfire, where we bonded around the fire while making and eating s’mores.

                The Scavenger Hunt was a main event where the teams ran all around the camp to find clues and answer questions on what we have learned during YPC rehearsals. The part during the scavenger hunt that I really liked was when the older kids ran back for the younger kids since they were getting tired, also when the older kids carried the younger kids on their backs and held them on their shoulders. This trip also taught us responsibility because we had to keep our cabins tidy, clean up after ourselves during meals, and not litter around the camp. Lastly, I would like to give a special thanks to the YPC staff, the parent chaperones, and to the Camp Mason staff.                                                                                
-  Cameron, 15, Young Men

The camping trip was fun in so many ways. It was great to be with all of the friends I’ve already made from YPC.  One of the best parts about the retreat was to make new friends with the boys and young men in the chorus. It was a congenial atmosphere with all of the age groups. There were great meals, some fun rehearsals, and lots of activities. My favorite activity was probably archery because I was so good that I got to use the compound bow. Everyone got split into 4 teams - red, green, blue and yellow. I was on the yellow team and we won Kickball, Capture the Flag, and the Scavenger Hunt. The camping trip changed the way I look at coming to rehearsal on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Now I know everyone and feel that I can call everyone my friends.
-          Lucas, 13, Amani

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

YPC Girl's Weekend Retreat

Camp Jewell was so much fun!  The camp has a big, long, fast, green slide!  There’s a mini farm with sheep, llamas, and goats. There are ducks, chickens, roosters too and a giant pig that’s very grumpy!  Also, you might not notice them but there are cute bunnies hopping all around. In my cabin, Cabin Three, there was a couch and a fire place and it was so close to the lake. Canoeing was also very fun. Make sure you don’t tip over! Look for YPC updates all the time. Blog ya later! 
 – Alliyah, 10, Intermezzo
This was actually my second Camp Jewell trip!  As soon as we found out our room assignments, the race was on to claim a bed! After that was resolved, we were to head over to Centennial Hall for rehearsal. I mean, what’s a YPC retreat without rehearsal? Once we went over a few songs, we also learned some music theory (which actually got everyone really engaged and excited.)
            Rock climbing, archery, field games, kayaking, and a gigantic slide were all a part of our activity choices. But the game that got everyone pumped and very competitive was the “Scavenger Hunt.” Our team (The Green Team) had a lot of team spirit and won 3rd place! The best part of that weekend for me was the bonfire which followed the talent show. Singing together with everyone surrounding the fire was the greatest bonding experience of the entire trip and it reminded me of why I love YPC. 

– Nia, 17, Concert Chorus


Camp Jewell was honestly the best trip I have ever taken. This year had so many different adventurous tasks and obstacles. At Camp Jewell we were placed in teams. The teams were yellow, purple, orange, green, blue, and red. I was on the Yellow Team. Each team got a flag and this year, instead of getting stars, we got buttons for team challenges. My team had 23 buttons at the end of this fantastic weekend!
First we did a few activities in Centennial Hall then we went off to do the weekend’s challenges. We went to archery, the slide, rock climbing, to the mini farm, etc. It was very cold there so every 10 minutes everybody went to the hot cocoa machine.
Soon it was time to audition for the talent show. I auditioned and then I got in. My sister got me ready by doing my make-up, making sure I was dressed well and then we were off. I was wearing a pretty black and gold dress with black shoes, a silver black and gold bracelet and a golden headband with a poufy black and gold hair clip. Everyone in the talent show was amazing!  Finally, it was my turn. I sang "Pulled” from the Addams Family Musical. After the talent show we had a camp fire and made s’mores. It was really cold and I was very tired so I went back to the cabin. I set up my sleeping bag on the top bunk. After we got back to the cabin, all the girls started talking about how much fun we had while the other girls in the next room were playing tag. After that, I finally went to bed.
The next day I woke up, got dressed and went jogging. I went to get some more hot cocoa too. My friend Elizabeth went to the slide and then back to our cabin and get our stuff to the mini garage. After some more activities, we had a rehearsal where we sang a few songs and then it was time for the Scavenger Hunt. For me, that was the craziest part. Our team had to go to this island where we needed to get a clue. When we arrived at the island, someone stepped on a bee nest and a lot of people got stung so more than four members of my team had to quit the Scavenger Hunt. The Yellow Team started with twelve girls and by the end of the Scavenger Hunt only four girls were still standing. After that, we went on the bus. It was a fantastic weekend!

 – Irena, 10, Intermezzo

Camp Jewell this year was a wonderful experience. It was great to get to know incoming Concert Choristers and also to talk to the younger girls in other divisions. The positivity shared by everyone who came made the weekend lighthearted and fun.
Choristers in different divisions do not get to see each other often except for when we sing together in annual concerts. During this weekend, each older girl sat next to a younger one and we introduced ourselves. I enjoyed this because I remembered how I idolized the older kids when I was little. Now, as an upperclassman, I see how the Prelude and Intermezzo children look up to me. We learned new songs together, spoke Spanish with Johnny Rabe, and had music theory lessons with Francisco. Both younger and older girls were very eager to participate.
We were later broken up into teams for activities and competitions where we got to make up cheers and try to earn buttons to pin onto our flag. Everyone had a lot of fun during archery, kickball, and rock climbing; we even got to see Sheldon and Sophia make it to the top of the rock wall!
All who participated in the talent show provided a night of hilarious skits and beautiful music. After a closing campfire and burnt marshmallows (at least on my part), we returned to our cabins for the night. I loved talking to all the Concert Chorus and Cantare girls. We bonded through shared stories about funny performances and things that happened on tour. 
In all, the girls’ retreat to Camp Jewell was a great success. Everyone got along well with each other and made new friendships that will continue in rehearsals and concerts. 

– Caroline, 16, Concert Chorus

This was my third trip to YPC “camp” since my granddaughter joined YPC.  I couldn’t wait to be with the girls in the beautiful fresh air and see Stanley the pig at the farm, and even take a turn on the big slide.  But then as the girls of mixed divisions gathered in their assigned teams and started the activities, I remembered the best part of being at Camp Jewell—the unconditional support of every girl for each other.
This is what makes YPC so unique. That incredible support makes every girl fearless.  They can try anything and know they will always be encouraged and never belittled, whether it’s trying to master that tricky rhythm or getting to the top—or even the middle—of the rock climbing wall.
On this particular trip, there was one moment that, for me, summed up the magic of a YPC camp weekend.  It was close to 11 p.m. on Saturday night.  One side of the cabin was quiet.  The lights were out and although I could still hear girls whispering and murmuring, it was clear they were nodding off.  The other side of the cabin, however, was the total opposite, so Sergeant Chaperone knocked on the door intending to suggest that it was getting late, and maybe they should think about settling in. 
But when I opened the door, I was met with a remarkable sight.  There was our chaperone chorister Vera sitting on the floor with her back to the bunk.  Sitting cross-legged around her, staring up in adoration and soaking up her every word, were all these Prelude and Intermezzo choristers.  It’s something I’ll not soon forget….and neither will any of those little girls. 

- Angela Duryea, YPC Staff and Grandparent Chaperone