YPC 2014 Gala Review
David Patrick Columbia's NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY
Your Link to Society
Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
When I left the Met, I grabbed a cab to take me over to Jazz @ Lincoln Center in the Time Warner Building, where the Young People’s Chorus of New York City/Francisco J. Nunez Artistic Director/Founder was presenting a gala evening “Celebrating the Next 25 Years” featuring theYoung People’s Chorus of New York City, with Ashley Brown,Delfeayo Marsalis and the New York Pops.
This was new for me. I’d “heard of” the Young People’s Chorus. I had this idea that it was a chorale group of young people and children from the city’s schools. The evening was also a fundraiser and at the dinner after the performance, they honored Robert E. Moritz U.S Chairman and Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and theHumanitarian Award was given to J. B. Harrison.
I arrived midway through the first performance which featured Delfeayo Marsalis along with the children who looked to be about the same age. In that part of the program there were several dozen on stage. I saw immediately that this was not just some group of young school kids singing in the choir. This was first rate, smart, clean, directed and compelling. The kids were really good, they moved like pros (kids’ version of pro), and like really good kids, they were into their performance. Their performance was clearly professionally directed, and impressive.
Watching it I was thinking how much fun it must be for the kids. And how much work had gone into the perfection of their performance; and what a good thing that was for everyone, including the future of these children. This was real power. This is where true hope and joy preside by nature’s way.
The program, with performances ever changing along with age groups, was sophisticated and diversified but entirely accessible to any music lover. The eldest must have been young teenagers and the youngest,possiblyfive and six years old. All the performers were costumed/dressed for their part of the program. The composer/lyricists ranged from Aaron Copland to the Gershwins, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, Strouse and Charnin, Van Morrison,Dave Brubeck, Steve Wonder and several others.
With the exception of Mr. Marsalis and Ms. Brown, allof the songs were performed bythe different age groups in large numbers, and precisely choreographed. Everywhereyou look you see achievement and accomplishment for all involved and mostimportantly for these children. Elizabeth Nunez who is associate conductor of the YPC, serves as vocal coach for the choristers in all six YPC divisions. She is also director of the YPC Satellite School Program which every year brings YPC’s choral program to 900 children in New York City Public Schools. She was on stage last night conducting the choristers inPaul Desmond, Dave Brubeck and Iola Brubeck’s “Take Five”.
Founder Nunez’ idea was to make the YPC multiculturalas a model for an inclusive society that is being replicated globally. That’s what we were watching last night and it was joyous and fun and deeply moving. I was reminded of the SAB dinner that I was not at for that is also an organization which through the use of the arts is preparing young people for the opportunity for a better life. These are not ideals. These are realities. Children mainly lack the tools to do it for themselves.
The Young People’s Chorus definitely has provided their choristers with those tools. It was not only a thrill to see, but it was fun and beautiful music. The performance ran about ninety minutes. It seemed like there were hundreds of children and young people entering and exiting for the more than fourteen numbers. Precision of movement, choreography was everywhere, the work of Jacquelyn Bird, who is the director/choreographer. In the past eight years the multi-talented Ms. Bird has choreographed numerous performances of the Young People’s Chorus, including tours of the Dominican Republic China, Japan, France and at Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary celebration.
Francisco Nunez, the YPC’s founder and artistic director, is also a conductor, composer and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. He is a frequent speaker on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity among children in today’s society. Mr. Nunez is a genius, and you can witness it yourself when you see a Young People’s Chorus performance. Again, Hope and Joy abound not only in the children performing but in the audience watching. The next time you get a chance to see the Young People’s Chorus, take your children, your grandmother, and your best friend and go. Everyone will love it and some will get it too.