[The Cleveland Banner] Young People’s Chorus end week at Lee with free concert

SKYE TARSHIS and students in the Young People’s Chorus of New York City sing “Liminality (A Breath of Epiphany)” at Lee University on Thursday night. This song and others in the free program featured on the Pangle Stage used props and choreographed dances designed by choreographer Jacquelyn Bird.

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Gebby 

The Cleveland Banner: July 27, 2019
By Kaitlin Gebby

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City visited the Lee University stage on Thursday night to deliver sounds ranging from ethereal to earth-shattering.

Founded in 1988, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City  reaches over 2,000 children annually in New York City and hundreds more through its new YPC National program, according to a Lee University release. The group spent the last week in residency at Lee, practicing and learning from award-winning composers through exposure to highly experienced musicians.

The free concert in Pangle Hall at Lee University marked the second time the chorus has paid a visit to Cleveland. The first was last year with a concert series for the university’s president.

Since that first visit, YPC founder and artistic director Francisco Núñez said the two institutions have had a “great relationship,” that will keep them coming back. Núñez helped guide the New York City and national ensemble chorus throughout the Thursday night concert. He said this week has been “very special” for the students. The visit to Lee was the first National YPC Studio workshop session, a program designed to bring the talents of the New York-based chorus to areas across the country and globe for those places, like Cleveland, to replicate and enrich their communities.

Ranging from ages 8 to 18 years old, he said the students heard music from talented musicians and instructors throughout the week. In addition, they practiced and performed songs written and composed by Bruce Adolphe and Jim Papoulis, which made the world debut on the Pangle stage at Lee on Thursday.

Adolphe wrote the song “No More Bad Dreams,” which tells the Ojibwe-inspired story of a spider that rewards its elderly caretaker with a web to keep bad dreams at bay. During the performance, the singers used strings to demonstrate the web the spider was spinning that would later become a dreamcatcher. Adolphe is also known for his work with American Public Radio as the Piano Puzzler. The weekly, NPR-broadcasted show features Adolphe performing a classical piece on piano for listeners to call in and guess.

Papoulis, a composer known for “exploring new modes of communication,” according to the YPC program, wrote the song “Whispers.” Papoulis said the song was inspired by how the “exchange of ideas, philosophies and voices … (stay) with us as whispers.” Papoulis has worked with numerous choirs, orchestras and ensembles, and has performed for the Pope with the New York Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic and the London Symphony. A recording of his piece, “Give Us Hope,” is featured at the 9/11 Museum in New York.

“The chance to experience world premieres of pieces by two composers of international renown is a rare opportunity indeed,” Laud Vaught, music resource center coordinator at Lee, said.

The young group of singers demonstrated a diversity of sound equal to that of their backgrounds during their concert. Singers in the chorus come from New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Dominican Republic, Núñez said. “We are able to bring together children of all backgrounds in a way that others want to replicate,” he said. “The children involved (in the national program) are from different programs and different cities, and when they came here something happened to them. They got very inspired, and they got very excited.”

He said the exposure the singers got was valuable to their development and a treat for the audience. Núñez the ultimate goal in offering these concerts to the public is to foster harmony and excellence through the sound of music.

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