I sing in a very talented Brooklyn community chorus (the Park Slope Singers, if you must know!) We work hard, rehearsing each Monday evening under the excellent direction of Dusty Francis and our amazing pianist, Travis Horton. They both try their best to teach us proper vocal technique and other intricacies of choral mastery. Dusty encourages us to memorize as much as possible. Both he and Travis try to get us to enunciate clearly, and to add the expressive dimension to the words and music we are singing. We really try. We are better for it. But I have a secret confession to make: when I grow up (vocally) I want to be the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
I have followed them loyally since I first heard them — long before I began writing this blog. My favorite contemporary composers lead me to this incredible group of gifted musicians, because many of them compose music for this chorus. By now, I have seen numerous performances (the most recent of which was The Aging Magician) and I am always left with jaw-dropping admiration. These young vocalists practice everything Dusty and Travis endeavor to teach us. They memorize long pieces of very challenging music. I can understand every word they sing. They embody what they are singing. If you are not in a chorus, you may not understand what a feat this is. I am so impressed every time I hear them.
In Silent Voices, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Friday evening, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus made heard the voices of those who are marginalized. Accompanied by the fantastic International Contemporary Ensemble, the compositions of Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Nico Muhly, Shara Nova, Toshi Reagon, Kamala Sankaram, Caroline Shaw and DJ Spooky brought the words of such rarely heard voices as Pauli Murray to life. Helga Davis hosted this moving, important, evening of virtuosic music — both composed and sung. I felt privileged to be in the house.
As for my chorus? The Park Slope Singers are performing Haydn’s Creation on June 3rd in Park Slope (with Musica Bella Orchestra) and on June 4th in Bay Ridge (with Travis Horton, piano.) Details for both concerts are here!