Friday, July 24, 2015

YPC Wins Five Gold Medals!

On Saturday morning, every spot in the 1,400-seat Scottish Rite Center auditorium was occupied by the singers and conductors from every participating chorus in the Golden Gate International Children’s and Youth Choral Competition and Festival.  Even so, there was absolute silence.  The competition winners were about to be announced.

Over the past several days, all of the competing boys, girls, and young men and women had made fast friends with each other, taking selfies, and exchanging email addresses at the picnic on Merritt Lake, on the San Francisco bay cruise, and between rehearsals.  

Now, they were all rooting for each other.  As each winner was announced, there were huge cheers, clapping, and stomping.  And that included YPC, who won five gold medals in every competition category:  Historical, Folk, Contemporary, and a new Golden Gate category:  Gospel/Spiritual.

So what did YPC chorus members learn from this unforgettable experience?

“I had an amazing, what you could call, “life-changing” time on YPC’s Golden Gate Festival tour.  I made friends and memories I will never forget.  On tour we met people from Indonesia, Austria, China, and many other places.  Singing with these other children, made me grow not only as an artist, but as a person.  On tour I also grew closer to people in YPC.  Before this tour, I had never seen traditional Indonesian clothing.  Now I have and their clothing is gorgeous.  At the end of the day, I look back at this tour and it wasn’t about us winning; it was about becoming a real family.  And I am glad to call YPC my second family. – Kayla, Cantare

“I had to decide to go on tour with YPC or go with my original plan of going to summer camp. It was a hard decision, but after coming here and meeting everyone, it reassured me that I made the right decision. It was a great experience, becoming closer to everyone at YPC and getting to know more about other countries from the other choirs. – Hannah, Cantare 

“In the 24 hours before the competition, I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my limits.  It is a great lesson for life.”  Isabel, Concert Chorus

Working to be Better than Best

July 17, 2015

In Wednesday’s amazing Spotlight Concert performances by both Cantare and Chorale at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, the choristers gave everything they had in exceptional performances.  But Francisco and Elizabeth reminded them that for the week ahead, every chorus member had to work harder both mentally and physically to make each performance better than the last.  
In the competition finals on Friday at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, Cantare and Chorale stepped up again. So how were they able to take their “best” to the next level?

“To become better, we work off of each other’s energy and try to really connect during practice.  We use each previous performance to propel the upcoming one and remember the great feeling of a successful performance.  To do our best, we need to stop thinking as individuals, but as a chorus.”
Gabby and Hannah - Cantare and Sarea - Concert Chorus

“To become better we have to always keep in mind we are one unit.  We have to make it a habit to listen to each other in rehearsal and tech, so we are always on point.
David, Young Men

“We need to take the feelings we have on stage and release them into our performances.  We need to put our all into our performances.  Working together is the best….
Naya, Cantare 

“Finding the first competition to have been both thrilling and full of emotion, I realize that giving everything I have cannot be a one-time thing.  As a group, we need to keep going.  In order to progress beyond the exhilaration of a particular performance, we must remember those amazing feelings.  It isn’t enough to produce a mechanical performance.  Instead, it is crucial that we persevere, recreating the moment we felt most happy on that stage, and taking it even beyond that.  I believe this is the main thing that will push us even further in our endless willingness to strive for excellence.  With the love and support of our fellow YPC family, I know we will indeed become better…and better.”

Bryanna,   Concert Chorus

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Off To A Great Start!

July 15, 2015
Tuesday was the first big day.  It was when the competitions began. Cantare was scheduled as the first chorus to perform in the whole competition. Right after breakfast at the hotel, two buses loaded with YPC choristers set off for the First Congregational Church in Berkeley where many of the Golden Gate participants were preparing for their own performances.  The Cantare boys and girls were a little apprehensive, but by showtime at 2 p.m., Elizabeth turned their nervousness into a determination and focus that resulted in what Elizabeth told them (and they knew) was the performance of their lives. 
A few hours later, Francisco led the Chorale in their first performance in the competition. The Chorale did their YPC thing, winning loud cheers, but they weren’t finished. YPC may have completed their competition pieces, but they still had more to show.  So they followed up with an extraordinary performance of the West Side Story medley.  At first there was a stunned silence.  Then one by one just about every person in the audience stood to acknowledge what they had just experienced.
Pep talk before performance

Outdoor Cantare rehearsal in Berkeley

Historical Competition at First Congregational Church of Berkeley 
YPC Chorale in Competition
YPC Cantare's spotlight concert at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley
Choirs from around the world in the Historical Competition
Afterwards, all of the YPC choristers enjoyed watching and cheering their new friends from so many other countries in their own performances, just as they had done for YPC.
There is much more to come--two big spotlight performances today and more competition performances later in the week.  So what do the choristers think so far?
“Both during our set and while watching others in today’s competition, I learned that true success is not defined by how well the judges rate you.  True success is feeling the spirit of the music, feeling the energy of those around you, and feeling the support of one’s peers.  No matter how we placed, YPC won in our hearts.  In that same way, so did every other choir that competed today.  The medals are just a formality.”  Daniel – Young Men
“Participating in today’s competition made the hours we spent rehearsing, studying our parts, and learning our dance moves feel completely worth it.  From performing with YPC, I have learned what it feels like to really commit to singing together as one voice. Listening to the other choirs left me feeling inspired.  It was so amazing to experience music and people from around the world, and I am so excited for the rest of the festival.”   Keerti, Concert Chorus

“Watching the competition and participating, as well, has had a huge impact on my perspective of the world, different cultures, and the way that they express themselves through music.  Music is a binding element for children and people from around the globe.  We gather together to learn all different kinds of vocal techniques used in areas such as Indonesia, Estonia, and Finland to add to their style of music.  Personally, I have grown as a musician by being exposed to such talent. I learned that working together is more of an achievement than succeeding individually, something I will remember for my upcoming years in YPC.”   Julia, Cantare

Photos by Nancy Bloom

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Arrival in California!

Here we are in beautiful California.  It has been a blur of activity, with lots of singing and experiencing new sights… and we want to bottle the weather and bring it back to New York—sunny and low 70’s.  Yesterday we started the day by walking to the Scottish Rite Center, where all of the participating choruses converged.  Robert Geary, artistic director of the Golden Gate International Children’s Youth Choral Festival, welcomed all of us and emphasized that the festival was created in 1991 not only for choruses from around the world to compete, but most importantly to sing together and make friends.  And yesterday we all made a great start.

Robert Geary addresses choristers
After learning several songs that we all will be singing together at the closing ceremonies, we had a picnic lunch and got to meet each other.

Cantare at the picnic lunch on the shores of Lake Merritt
YPC Chorale

Some of the choristers talked about the most interesting person they met yesterday and their memories of that first day.  Here are some of their answers:
“I met Maria from Finland as we were standing in line for the opening ceremonies last night.  She explained the different costumes and uniforms they were wearing—each girl wore a traditional dress from a different part of Finland, usually from where their families come from.”Miki - Concert Chorus
“During our first tutti rehearsal, where we met the other choristers for the first time, I sat next to Jakob from the Austrian choir.  I ended up sitting with him during our picnic lunch, and he taught me a few German phrases.  Now I can say “Hello, How are you” in German!” Galen - Young Men’s Chorus
“Yesterday was our first full day in California.  Of course it wouldn’t be a real YPC tour without lots of rehearsals.  We started off the day with a tutti rehearsal at the Scottish Rite Center.  After meeting choristers from Estonia and right here in California and singing four songs all together, we headed to a picnic lunch.  Just as we were finishing our sandwiches, a HUGE game of “Run, Run My Baby” started. Members of every chorus played, and we had so much fun.  I think my favorite part of the day was seeing all the choirs from around the world come together, not only to make beautiful music, but to connect and have fun too.” Laura - Concert Chorus

Playing "Run, Run My Baby", a dancing game, all together

“At rehearsal we saw and heard many interesting choirs from so many parts of the world.  Personally, I got to meet two girls from Finland and two girls from the Piedmont California choir.  It was such a great experience to learn about the daily lives of people in the other choruses and how music became an impacting factor in their lives mentally and physically. This is such a wonderful opportunity for me.” - Scarlett - Cantare Chorus
Chorale performs in Opening Ceremony

Cantare performs in Opening Ceremony

Photos by Nancy Bloom and Christopher Hall