Friday, December 21, 2007

BCC Fall Concert!

Fall Concert 2007

This year, for the first time ever, BCC held a fall concert for the general public. It was a enjoyable evening filled with excitment radiating from all of the BCC choirs, as well as from the warm and welcoming audience. In order to represent the real singer perspective, interviews have been conducted with members from various choirs within the BCC, telling of the fall concert experience from many point of views! Read on!

Laura Potter, age 15, represents Premier
What is your favorite aspect of being in BCC?
LP: This is my second year singing in the Boston Children's Chorus. The best part of being a member of the chorus is being around the most talented, encouraging, and inspired people, both staff and fellow singers, that I have ever met. In such a rigorous yet supportive environment, I have been able to grow as a musician and to make friends. The BCC community is singularly unique in this way; we adapt as a group to fit every singer's individual needs, and the product of our work is extraordinary.

BCC: Which selections did your choir perform at the Fall Concert?
LP: At this year's Fall Concert, the Premier Choir performed five pieces. We opened the program with "Lift Thine Eyes" from "Elijah" by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, followed by "Can You Hear" by Jim Papoulis. Then, we sang "In Paradisum", a Gregorian chant and "Eternity" by Michael Bojesen. We then walked out to "Mu ku ki La may", an African melody that we learned on our retreat to New Hampshire at the beginning of the season.

BCC: Were you nervous before the performance?
LP: No, I was not particularly nervous before the performance. There were a song or two in our selections that we, the PC, were concerned might not be as polished as we might have liked, but on the whole we were more excited than worried. I think everybody gets last minute jitters right before going on stage, but as soon as we start to sing everyone feels more comfortable and relaxed.

BCC: What was your favorite part of the performance?
LP: My favorite part of the performance was the effect of our semi-circle formation for the last selection, "Eternity". During the Gregorian chant of "In Paradisum", the PC split into three groups, and two of these groups processed out into the aisles of the audience, creating a long arc of singers, while the other group remained on stage. This piece is, as our conductor and Artistic Director Mr. Trecek-King described to the audience that evening, about reflection, thought, and finding comfort in something as solid and quiet as a stone from the beach. After singing the three verses at the beginning of the piece, the choir converges on one singular note, and slowly, one by one, small groups of singers begin to diverge from this note and sing hauntingly beautiful melodies, reaching a full and glorious climax before returning to that same note in unison at the end. Because the choir was spread throughout the audience as well as the stage, the effect was an enveloping, perpetually sustained, flowing sound that reached the audience from not one but three directions. Our performance of "Eternity" was, therefore, a success and my favorite piece that PC sang that night.

Laura Davis, age 17, gives us the Concert Choir perspective..

BCC: What is your favorite aspect of being in BCC?
LD: I have been in BCC since last year, and I love coming into Boston every week, and I have learned SO much about music, in fact way more than my violin teacher taught me when I took violin for four years.

BCC: Which selections did your choir perform at the Fall Concert?
LD: We sang "Feel Good" composed by L. Craig Tyson
BCC: Were you nervous before the performance?
LD: I wasn't nervous because I'm used to performing, but I was slightly nervous for my choir because sometimes we have trouble paying attention through the whole performance, but it came together quite nicely!

BCC: What was your favorite part of the performance?
LD: Well, I am not sure what the audience would say, but it was really fun to see my supportive friends taking snapshots from the front row as we sang!

Charlotte Del Col represents Villa Victoria
BCC: What is your favorite part of being in the BCC?
CDC: I have been in BCC for two years now, and I really like being with my friends from the choir.

BCC: What pieces did your choir sing at the Fall Concert?
CDC: Let's Sing Altogether, Thank you for the World So Sweet and Seagull.
BCC: Were you nervous before the performance?
CDC: Right before the performance I get a little nervous. Once we start to sing, I'm not nervous.

BCC: What was your favorite moment of the Fall Concert?
CDC:When everyone claps I feel proud. I also like when we take our bows.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Performance at Tufts University!

Guest Writer: Casey Accardi

As soon as I took a first look at the piece, “O Daedalus, Fly Away Home” composed by Trevor Weston, I knew that we were in for a real treat. The Premier Choir of BCC was invited to sing the children’s chorus part of this masterpiece, along with the Tufts University Chamber Choir singing the adult parts, conducted by Andrew Clark. We began rehearsals at once, improving each time we ran a section. The energy within the choir built as we realized just how thrilling of a piece “O Daedalus” was. As the few short weeks passed, it became time for us to finally rehearse with the Tufts Chamber Singers, (who are truly magnificent!) and get the piece up and running. “O Daedalus” tells the story of slaves trying to escape back to Africa by using a beautiful poem written by Robert Hayden. Trevor Weston explained to us the story behind the song and inspired us to perform to a different level as we became aware of what we were singing about.

The day of the performance, there was a flurry of energy within the choir as we prepared to take the stage. We would be performing at the Granoff Music Center at the Tufts University campus. The moment we entered the space, it was clear that it was no ordinary concert hall. It managed to incorporate tremendous acoustics as well a very sleek and classy design. We had the opportunity to not only perform “O Daedalus” but also selections from our own repertoire. We got into formation on stage and began to practice. The moment we began singing, a wonderful energy whizzed through the choir as we realized that the Hall was one in which our sound felt controlled but explosive, a great feeling.

Quickly, it became time for us to take to the stage and perform our individual set. We began with the engaging piece, “Aint-a That Good News” which was such fun to perform in the space because our sound bounced off the walls, giving us the perfect tone. We then did “Lift Thine Eyes” and “We are…”, both old favorites of ours. At last we transitioned into positions to perform my personal favorite “Eternity”, an eight part piece designed to bring back memories to the minds of the audience.

We were then joined by the Tufts Singers on stage as we got ready to perform the piece of the night. We got of to a great start sailed through all the troubling parts of the song. The sounds of the two choirs collaborating was enormous and thrilling to be apart of. At the end of the piece, the audience erupted into applause, and one could tell by the look on the faces of the composer and conductor that it had been a great success. It was fulfilling to be apart of and left us all with a feeling of pride, not to mention, we had a great deal of fun putting the remarkable piece together!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Performance: Partnership with Emmanuel Music!

Guest Writer: Kasey Fahy. Premier Choir

On October 14, 2007 the Boston Children’s chorus had the privilege to sing with Emanuel music at Emmanuel church. This was the second year we were invited to sing a Bach cantata with the choir and it was even better than the first year. Singing with the professional choir at Emmanuel was both fun and rewarding. We were able to learn from the choir as we hope they were able to learn from us. When we were not singing we were able to listen to the enthralling solos and duets by some of Emmanuel music’s finest singers. The gracious members of the church were warm and inviting and a neighborhood choir even made cookies for us, when they found out we would be performing this weekend! The small orchestra we sang with was exquisite, and even with the tight quarters on stage they were extremely professional. Before we sang the cantata the Boston Children’s Chorus sang Lift Thine Eyes to the members of the church. Even with only a small number of Sopranos the song went well. We sang with heart and hopefully our singing warmed the chilly church. After we sang Lift Thine Eyes we walked out to a fabulous solo of In Paradisum by Miriam. This concert was both exciting and enchanting and hopefully we will be invited back to sing for many more years!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Performance: Superintendant Welcome!

Guest Writer: Mia Ferguson
On September the 25th, the premier choir joined with various organizations throughout Boston to welcome our new superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, Dr. Carol R. Johnson. After one rehearsal only, music filled the chapel of Trinity Church in Copley Square. All three performing groups, the Boston Community Choir, the Trinity Choir, and our very own Premier Choir of the Boston Children’s Chorus, performed with passion and energy individually, but when the groups joined in song together, a true unity and power encompassed the room. Not only was this event musically rewarding for us, after all we did learn a new song from Dr. Carol Johnson, it was an opportunity to experience many of our fellow students in our city. Speakers of all ages took the podium, including the Central Treble Choir’s young singer Christina Yee. In spite of her young age, Christina gave an incredible speech that was certainly memorable and exceptionally well delivered and written. Her words echoed throughout the night as the importance of education in both academics and the arts was emphasized. Another benefit of the evening was to see the red jackets of the City Year corps members filling the pews of the chapel. Their spirit and pride definitely fired up our passion and motivation to sing and spread the word about music. We now all have a confidence that Dr. Carol R. Johnson shares our commitment to music and musical education, and know that we’ll have many more brilliant students from the Boston Public School system heading our way to join us in our choirs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

September 2007: BCC Open House

Guest Writers: Mia Ferguson and Alexis Tice-Alarcon

As BCC’s new space was revealed to the public on September 10th, 2007, the hallways were filled with people bustling about. It was quite the novelty for BCC singers and guests alike to explore the unique new space. Designed by Bob Adams, the space radiates a feeling of community, where two rehearsals can occur at once. Not only rehearsals occur in this new space though, the staff’s offices are all there, as is a waiting area for parents and students, in addition to a kitchen! And although these things all occur in one space, the magnificent rehearsal rooms are all soundproofed as to not bother other activities. Not only did we discover that the space was soundproof, but also that in the Margaret Stewart Lindsey rehearsal hall there are microphones for proper recording, and a screen for watching a variety of performances and choirs. Various Premier Choir members toured visitors around the new space, pointing out all it had to offer. As the evening moved into the rehearsal hall the singing began. After a brief performance of “In Paradisum” and “Can You Hear?” the program moved on to thank all those that supported the choir and the new space. One of our longstanding supporters, the Margaret Stewart Lindsey Foundation, collaborated with the Boston Children’s Chorus to create our rehearsal hall. In honor of Margaret Stewart Lindsey, a woman who loved music and singing, a beautiful photograph of her as a young woman was revealed on the wall. It will remain there everyday to remind us of the woman whose legacy has given our choir so much. The Open House continued with refreshments for all in the other smaller rehearsal space. As people began to pour out of the space down the stairs to Shawmut Avenue, chorus members were revived and excited to get back to rehearsals in the astounding new space.

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 2007: Premier Retreat!

Guest Writer: Cyrus Dahmubed Premier Choir

This season Mr. TK decided that premier choir will have one over night retreat at the beginning of the season, instead of multiple 9-5 retreats throughout the season. The plan was for everyone to arrive at BCC Central at 7:30 on the morning of Saturday, September 8th. I instantly knew this was going to be a problem. All singers were asked to arrive at 7:30 so that the bus could leave at 7:45. At 7:30 about 10 singers had arrived, at 7:45 about half the singers had arrived. At about 8:00 the staff decided that we should start loading the school bus that was to take us to Kensington, NH where the retreat was to be held at the Kensington Pinnacle Leadership Center. So slowly but surely the group of partially awake singers began to load the bus with all of their luggage which, ranged in size from something not much larger than a purse that a woman might carry to a very elegant party all the way up to a suitcase in which one might fit two to three 5 year old children. After about 25 minutes of loading the bus all the singers that were to come on the retreat had arrived. Ten minutes later the bus departed, loaded to the point where Mr. TK had to jump over 10 feet of suitcases in order to pass the mid-point of the bus. The bus then took a wrong turn. After making a complete circle and ending up back at BCC Central the mumblings in the bus sounded something along the lines of “If we had left on time, we would have been there 5 minutes ago”. But soon everyone’s discomforts were allayed as sugar coated doughnuts and every imaginable flavor of bagel and cream cheese were passed through the bus.

Alas, our destination was finally reached. By the time we reached the center it was nearly 10:00, and the singers were told to take all our belongings to the rehearsal room and to take our seats so that the season could be officially opened. This was done and we began to be placed in our correct seats and to find out what voice part (e.g. Alto 1, Second Soprano etc…) we would be singing this year. There were many happy and a number of rather distraught looking faces when we finally did get to the actual singing. After quite a bit of surprisingly good singing (judging by the faces and exclamations of the staff), a bit of laughing, an ice breaker game and only one or two anecdotal speeches by Mr. TK, lunch was served. During lunch there were copious amounts of bonding, catching up, friendship making and yes, even a little bit of eating. Just before lunch Mr. TK had announced that this year in Premier Choir there would be a choir president, section leaders and music library assistants. The section leaders and library assistants would be selected by Mr. TK, but the president would be nominated and voted for by the singers. So during lunch there was a constant trickle of singers lining up to write down the name of their nominee.

After lunch we all returned to the rehearsal space to continue rehearsing. We rehearsed for about two hours after which Mr. TK announced that the upcoming break was our last chance to nominate singers for the choir presidency. So we had our break and a few more names appeared on the list. When we returned from our break we sang a bit more and Mr. TK told us that it was voting time. He read off the names of all the people who had been nominated and handed everyone a small piece of paper on which to write the name of the person they were voting for. While the votes were being tallied by Ms. Dominguez, Mr. TK informed the choir as to whom he had chosen for section leaders. The list was as follows: Laura Potter to lead the 1st sopranos, Georgia Halliday to lead the 2nd sopranos, Isabel Koyama to lead the 1st altos and Terrell James to lead the 2nd altos. Following a surprisingly short period of applause at the announcement of the last name mentioned, Ms. Dominguez asked to speak with Mr. TK about some problematic affair that had apparently arisen with the presidential ballots (we must have a lot of ex-Floridians in Premier Choir). Mr. TK then retook his place at the conductors stool and with a somewhat solemn air began to explain that it had been a very close election and that this year there would be a president and vice-president, due to the near tie. He said that the vice-presidency would be held by Mia Ferguson (this was followed by one of the largest ranges of emotions that may have ever been displayed by a crowd of Premier Choir size) and that the presidency would be held by Sherylynn Sealy. The applause following this proclamation was uproarious and unanimous. Mr. TK never mentioned who would be the library assistants.

The afternoon continued with rehearsal, a break, some more rehearsal and to begin the evening, dinner was served. The activities during dinner were much the same as those that took place during lunch. When we returned to rehearsal Ms. Dominguez took the altos upstairs for a little bit of extra work on the song “Can You Hear”. Mean while, Mr. TK did voice matching among the 1st and 2nd sopranos, a rather tedious – and for new singers, nerve racking – experience. Once all each 1st soprano had been paired with all a 2nd soprano, based on the way they sounded with each other, the altos were brought back in so that each alto could be matched with one of the already existing pairs. Since this activity usually only involves 3-4 singers at a time, the other singers were resigned to reading, doing homework, whispering inappropriately and staring aimlessly at random items in the room. Once all the trios (and sometimes, quartets) were formed we continued to rehearse. And thus the first day of rehearsing concluded.

Once we were dismissed from rehearsal we were informed as to who would be sleeping where. All of the boys were to sleep in the incredibly luxurious cabin, with a kitchen, running water, electricity and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Amenities the other cabins did not appear to share. As the center did not have enough beds for all the singers and staff to remain on campus, about 20 singers and 2 or 3 staff members were sent to spend the night in a hotel about ten minutes away from the center. After the group for the hotel had left, the boys had gone to their cabin (which was right across the dirt road from the rehearsal space), and one group of girls had walked the half-mile to their cabin only one group of girls was to be transported by van to their cabin approximately 1 mile away from the rehearsal space. This walk would not have been enjoyable in the dark, through the woods, with luggage, being eaten alive by mosquitoes and heaven only knows what other creatures that could be lurking in the dark woods of New Hampshire. Once everybody had been safely transported to their assigned sleeping quarters, the night went off without a hitch, or so I have been told.

The next morning all singers reported back to the rehearsal space with their luggage for breakfast. Breakfast was followed by rehearsal, a few more somewhat tangential speeches by Mr. TK – including one particularly random one about rain and the kinds of animals he has become accustomed to seeing in his backyard – and lunch. Lunch was followed by the same things as breakfast, except, of course, lunch. Around 3:30 we were informed that we should gather our belongings and begin to load the bus for departure. After the rehearsal space had been cleared of such obstructions as chairs, pianos and music stand a few of the singers decided that it needed a vacuuming. Once this was completed everyone was back on the bus and in just over an hour we were all back at BCC Central and greeted by our families.

All in all, the retreat was full of music learning, singer to singer bonding, singer to staff bonding, and (more so for the staff than the singers) stress. But from what I have heard the retreat could not have been a better way to start BCC’s 5th season, and the things learned and achieved on the retreat were truly in the spirit of BCC and helped to mold the newest (and some of the oldest) Ambassadors of Boston.

And thus is the story of the Premier Choir 2007 Retreat.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

BCC 07-08: Parent Meeting

Guest Writer: Ken Accardi (BCC Parent)

On September 15th, all of the parents of BCC gathered together to start off the season with a Parent Meeting. This is the fifth year of the Boston Children's Chorus and things have really changed. Around four years ago this time the parents of the original 20 chorus members met in a similar way, but on a smaller scale. However, now there are 300 kids in the BCC it was amazing to see what a crowd assembled to kick off the year. The meeting was held in the cafeteria of Roxbury Community College and ended up being a standing room only event. This year there's not just one chorus like the pioneering choir of 2003, but instead there are nine, including four neighborhood choruses (Villa Victoria, West End House, Dorchester House I and Dorchester House II) and five that meet at BCC Central (Treble, Lyric, Concert, Young Men's Voice Class, and Premier). I knew the first time I met Hubie Jones that the man dreamed big dreams and made things happen, but this is amazing everyone. With the unity and diversity in the room, there can be no question that this chorus family will maximize the power of music to create social change.

Annette Rubin kicked off the meeting with a great welcome and review of the growth described above, and she introduced the staff, including now two program coordinators, an assistant artistic director, a business manager, two marketing managers, three teaching fellows, and three accompanists - wow! Her last introduction was Anthony Trecek-King who spoke with passion on so many subjects. First it came through clearly how much Mr T-K loves the kids and how he now feels at home within the chorus. But then he spoke about the mission for this year and how we're just beginning to tap the potential of the chorus. He is committed to pushing the kids hard to do the best they can do, and among other things he spoke about how he wants our kids to be ambassadors of music in their schools. In fact, he said that he wants schools throughout greater Boston to see kids in their BCC shirts and know that they are role models, great students, and great community members, in addition to being great singers. Next was the always hilarious David Howse. David spoke about all aspects of operations, communications, and logistics of the chorus. Most notably he spoke about the demand for our choirs to perform and shared that sometimes he gets five requests in a single day. The final speakers were two lovely mothers from parents organization who encouraged all parents to realize the importance of participation in the chorus family.

At the commence of the Parent Meeting, everyone (parents and choristers!) were invited to engage in a make-your-own sundae buffet, which was greatly enjoyed by all.

We're off to a great start of a great year!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Performance: 4th of July with the Boston Pops on the Esplanade!

Guest Writer: Casey Accardi

On the 4th of July, 2007, the Boston Children's Chorus had the joy of performing with the Boston Pops on the Esplanade on television in honor of the 4th of July Holiday. Early in the program we sang John Williams "Dry Your Tears Afrika" and Jill Galina's "American Pride." to both a live audience as well and millions of home viewers. Then, later on, when the television coverage became national, we joined the nation in a patriotic sing-a-long.

For me personally, this performance was the highlight of my season as a singer in BCC. When we found out that we would be singing for this event, I believe the feeling across the BCC family was one of mutual glee. It was such a huge opportunity for us as a choir, which was a great motivation to really perform the best that we possibly could.One of the pieces we sang ("Dry Your Tears Afrika") most of us were already familiar with because we had been singing it for a good part of the season, specifically for performances we did with the Boston Pops in May and June. The other piece we sang was one that we learned especially for the event, "American Pride." The second we ran through this piece, I knew it would be a great one for us to really perform and have fun with.

July 2nd through 4th were some fun, exciting, and busy times for us! On July 2th, the Concert Choir (myself included) returned home from our fantastic tour to Mexico. Then, on July 3rd, we met with select singers from many of the other BCC choirs to run our two pieces we'd be performing as a whole group at Symphony Hall. We were then loaded into Police escorted (that was exciting!) buses and transported to the Esplanade where we did some work on placement on stage and a sound check. While we were there, we got to see some of the other acts rehearse, like the Blue Man Group and the Pops Search Winner, Maria Perry... there was so much talent in one place!

Later on that evening, we returned to the Esplanade to film the dress rehearsal for the actual performance. The reason this is filmed is so if the weather is terrible on the 4th, the dress rehearsal can be televised. The dress rehearsal went really well, but I think we all hoped the weather would be good the next day so we could come back and do it live for the actual Holiday!

When it was finally the 4th of July, the future looked grim because most weather forecasts said there would be a storm later that evening (exactly when we'd be performing!) but like true performers would say, "the show must go on!" so we all arrived for our 6:30 call, ready to perform! We arrived at the Esplanade, did a few warm-ups, but mostly focused on conserving for our voices for the big event! When it finally became 8:30, we got into places and focused on the task at hand. I think everyone was a little nervous, but mostly pumped up to take the stage.

It was raining pretty hard outside, but we worked with it, as did the energetic live audience that was filled with great enthusiasm. As the final moment came, we quickly got into places on the steps of the Esplanade, put our "showfaces" on, and gave the performance our all! I would have to say that the performance was a great success, I could feel the energy onstage through every phrase, and we were all having a ton of fun! At the commence of our first set of music, there was thundering applause from the oval, and that's when I think we all realized how grateful we were to have this opportunity.

Once we got backstage, we all tried to relax and get ready for the next part of the program where we would help lead the patriotic sing-a-long. Everyone tried to calm down and get "in the zone" even though we were all so thrilled with the performing we'd just done.Our cue to get ready for the sing-a-long was John Mellencamp's fantastic performance of "Our Country." Everyone was once again quite pumped up as we scurried into place to the beat of the wonderful patriotic song.

Once we got on stage, all of our faces lit up as we performed a medley of classic American songs. To really understand the amazing experience of standing on a stage with a such a supportive chorus, backed up by one of the best orchestras in the country, with the knowledge that there were millions of people watching, is one that you really have to experience yourself. The feeling is one of pure thrill as you hit that last note with a nation singing along with you.
Performing for this amazing event is truly a milestone for the BCC and I am really glad to have been apart of it. It is certainly something I will never forget!