CY Sampler – Items of note from Commonwealth Youthchoirs
With 30 singers in Grades 3-8, the founding members of Garden State Girlchoir (GSG) held their first Spring Concert on June 10 at Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill. The concert featured confident singers and soloists, GSG member Lydia on flute, and repertoire that included a few Stephen Schwartz favorites. Not surprisingly, GSG Music Director Lauren Canna noted that “Popular,” from Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked, was very popular with the girls!! Garden State Girlchoir singers will be joining Keystone State Boychoir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir as they celebrate Stephen Schwartz at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, in Verizon Hall on Saturday, June 17, 2017, during An Evening with Stephen Schwartz, #SchwartzEvening. At the spring concert, Commonwealth Youthchoirs’ Artistic Director Steve Fisher announced that next year both Garden State Girlchoir and New Jersey Boychoir will be in residence at Rowan University!
Guest PG percussionist Erin helped accompany several songs and the KSB Grads joined in for the final set. GSG Parents provided a wonderful reception for all involved. Thanks to Lauren Canna, GSG Program Manager, Carli Visconti, and accompanists Christina Luscotova and Natasha Steinmacher for making this inaugural season such a success! A special thank you to Keystone State Boychoir founding member David Huntsinger, who has been regularly helping with rehearsals.
On Thursday, May 4, members of the Graduate and Motet choirs participated in the launch of a collaborative work by composer Tod Machover commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia Voices.
MIT’s Media Lab was at the event, demonstrating the mobile recording app that will help create the piece. Calvin Wamser, a member of the Grad Choir, observed, “Philadelphia Voices is the future of music; it especially interests me because it takes technology that people often say is a waste of time (like cell phones) and combines it with the community building power of music.” Anyone in the city can take part by downloading the Philadelphia Voices app to submit their own recordings of the “voice of Philadelphia.” Learn more here from the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Members from the Philadelphia Orchestra — violinists Yiying Li and Daniel Han, violist Marvin Moon; cellist Gloria dePasquale, and bassist David Fay ― performed works by Machover, and KSB and PG singers took part in improvisatory experiences. “It was an incredible experience to collaborate with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a composer as respected as Tod Machover,” noted KSB singer Matthew Flynn, “Especially when the piece is inspired by my home!”
Keystone State Boychoir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir are proud to be part of the collaboration along with the choir from the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), Sister Cities Girlchoir, and Al Bustan Seeds of Culture and others. A period of discovery will include in-depth discussions, workshops, interactive music sessions, recording “safaris,” and vocal explorations, all of which will inform the final composition.
Sound, voice collection, and community workshops will continue through the fall of 2017. The world premiere of the finished composition takes place April 6-8, 2018, in Philadelphia, followed by its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall on April 10, 2018.
On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, fifty-four years to the day after the Children’s’ Crusade of Birmingham, Alabama, began, hundreds of young singers from Find Your Instrument! Choir, Keystone State Boychoir, and Pennsylvania Girlchoir continued the message of heroism and hope when they performed The Children’s March at Girard College in Philadelphia. In the 1960s, the Children’s Crusade was a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement that exemplified bravery by hundreds of children who used non-violent protest in the face arrests and fire hoses.
The Children’s March was written by two Philadelphia artists: composer Andrew Bleckner and internationally renowned storyteller and librettist Charlotte Blake Alston. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) helped fund this performance of The Children’s March, which was originally commissioned by Singing City in 2013. Many remember news reports and TV footage of the heroic actions of hundreds of children in the face of police dogs, fire hoses and batons which brought national attention to the Civil Rights Movement and helped end segregation in Birmingham. The youngest marcher, who was jailed for a week, was only 9 years old.
Some of the singers performing at Girard College are the same age as the protesters were at the time. “The message of this piece is powerful,” said Steven Fisher, founder and artistic director of Keystone State Boychoir. He added, “We want our singers to know that they matter, that their voices matter, and that by singing together, they have the power to change the world.”
The Children’s March garnered public attention including articles in The Philadelphia Citizen, The Philadelphia Tribune, and coverage by 6ABC.
The Children’s March – Bringing History to Life through Song
Join us for The Children’s March on Tuesday, May 2 at 6:15 pm at Girard College. This dramatic work gives voice to the children and teens who so bravely marched for their rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, and is supported in part by our first ever grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The piece incorporates many Freedom Songs, and participants from Keystone State Boychoir, Pennsylvania Girlchoir, and our Find Your Instrument! choirs will learn about the meaning of these songs from local leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, known as the Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters. In a time of increasing racial tension in our country, it is important for all children, and all of us, to have a deeper understanding of this pivotal moment.
In addition to an evening ticketed performance, there will be a free concert offered to area schools, including our Find Your Instrument! partner schools, during the school day. (Please note that these two concerts are in place of Keystone State Boychoir’s and Pennsylvania Girlchoir’s traditional spring concerts.)
We are proud to have received our first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for this project. As part of the terms of our award, we are required to raise an additional $10,000 to match the NEA grant. You can help. If you would like to sponsor The Children’s March, please go here. Tickets will go on sale April 18.