In an uplifting demonstration of the power of music to bring communities together, 1,000 children from the citywide School Choruses program of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, were excited to make their debut at Harlem’s landmark Apollo Theater Monday morning, May 15, under the direction of Elizabeth Núñez, YPC’s Associate Artistic Director and Director of the School Choruses Program.
The children – who hail from neighborhoods that include Flatbush and Ozone Park to Hunt’s Point and Harlem – sang stories celebrating many of the vibrant cultures that make New York City the most appealingly diverse city in America, in a program titled “The Tales We Tell.”
Accompanied by a four-piece band of professional musicians, the young singers told stories through song from countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, interspersed with interludes of poetry, rap, music and dance from Ty Jones and Shayshahn MacPherson from The Classical Theatre of Harlem and dancers from Elisa Monte Dance choreographed by Tiffany Rae-Fisher.
But before they began to sing, Ty Jones from The Classical Theatre of Harlem told the children about a longtime Apollo tradition. He introduced them to a section of the trunk from The Tree of Hope, a bygone Harlem landmark that now makes its home at the Apollo.
“Before you step on stage,“ Elizabeth encouraged the children, “be sure you touch The Tree of Hope. “This way you can share in the great tradition of the many great Apollo performers that have come before you.”
Putting the children through their musical paces were their YPC conductors: Caitlin Dobmeier, Gia Gan, Maria Peña, Amber Salladin, and Sonny Willis.
Young People’s Chorus of New York City School Choruses
Children from the Bronx:
PS 69 | Journey Prep (Clason Point)
PS 304 | Early Childhood School (Throg’s Neck)
Children from Brooklyn:
PS 268 | The Emma Lazarus School (Crown Heights)
PS 770 | The New American Academy (East Flatbush)
MS 2 Parkside Preparatory
Children from Manhattan:
PS 75 | The Emily Dickinson School (Upper West Side)
PS 130 | The Hernando DeSoto School (Chinatown)
PS/MS 149 | The Sojourner Truth School (Harlem)
Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change (West Harlem)
PS 198 | The Isadore and Ida Strauss School (Upper East Side)
Children from Queens:
PS 64 | The Joseph Addabbo School (Ozone Park)
PS/IS 178 | The Holliswood School (Jamaica Estates)
The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, founded in 1988 by MacArthur Fellow Francisco J. Núñez on a mission of diversity and artistic excellence, harnesses the power of music to fulfill the potential of children musically, academically, and socially, as well as heightening an awareness of the ability of young people to rise to unforeseen levels of artistry. Each year 1,600 children participate in YPC through its after-school, in-school programs, and community programs. YPC is the recipient of America’s highest honor: a National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award.
Photo credit Stephanie Berger.