Thursday, June 30, 2011

UK Tour Day 4

By Nikki Lefort, Premier Choir
Nikki has been in BCC for two years. She is fifteen years old. This is her first BCC tour!

Today, June 30th, we made our way to Glasgow, Scotland. Our bus left around 9 AM and arrived at the Kelvingrove Museum by around 11:30. We spent the next hour and a half touring the beautiful museum (that resembled a red stone castle on the outside). It wasn't quite as grand as the MFA, but that's very hard to beat. It was a gorgeous museum filled with interesting exhibits ranging from french impressionist paintings to natural history (many stuffed animals and bones). After that some of us grabbed quick lunch at the cafe before a short rehearsal in the middle of the stunning foyer of the museum. At 1:00 we had an informal concert with James Hunter, a wonderful organist who played songs in between our numbers. We got tons of compliments while roaming the museum for the next hour after the concert.

The view of our performance from the balcony at the Kelvingrove Museum!

We left the museum around 3:30 and took a short ride to the the St. Bride's Episcopal Church. It was a very pretty, very cold stone cathedral. The reverend was very welcoming and happy to have us sing there! We had a workshop with about six students who are apart of the Ignition Depot Arts group. This group has a similar mission as BCC, seeing as they also use music and other arts to bring together different communities. It was really awesome to coordinate a combined rendition of Rolling in the Deep by Adele, merging their version with our own (improvised) BCC harmonies and backup touches. We had dinner and were all super pumped up come concert time because we got to jam backstage with our new friends (a small dance party ensued).

Me (Nikki) all bundled up at St. Brides Episcopal Church. It was EXTREMELY freezing!! 
Our performance was full of music we hadn't sung in a bit or were performing for the first time, yet we managed to pull it together to make a terrific concert. The audience showered us with compliments, one man even telling TK that we truly inspired and effected him and others. By 8:00 we were leaving the chilly but lovely town of Glasgow and headed towards home. I'd say it was a great ride home seeing as I was knocked out until the moment Ben Hires woke me up with the words "stopping for snacks". I was the second person off the bus, with pounds in hand ready to storm the grocery store for the only produce I'd seen in days. Personally, I bought bags of carrots, apples, cauliflower, and strawberries. It was a completely successful stop for a number of us. The store even asked us to sing when they heard the prestigious Boston Children's Chorus was there. Tomorrow, we head out for Washington, England bright and early. Chip chip, cheerio!

Collaborating with Depot Arts. They're awesome!
Also, I'm making a shout out to me mum and dad. Love you both so much and want you to know I'm having a great time and can't wait to see and talk to you guys! :) 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

UK Tour Day 3

By: Emma Kromm, Premier Choir
Emma has been in BCC for four years. She is fifteen years old. 

Hello everyone, from all of us in Edinburgh! We're having a wonderful beginning to our tour, with everything going smoothly, even after our approximately 30 hour long day yesterday.

YME rehearsing in St. Giles Cathedral
Today was Wednesday, the 29th; our third day of tour, although it felt like the second. Yesterday felt like one long, long day, and today was the first day where we began and finished our day in a hotel, making it feel like the first official day of tour. We woke up, still jet lagged but enthusiastic, and had a substantial continental breakfast in the Travelodge we are staying at. By 9:30 we were on the bus, off to rehearse at St. Giles Cathedral. The cathedral was breathtakingly beautiful, and everyone was in awe of the space as soon as we walked in. I heard some people around me exclaiming, "I can't believe we get to sing here!" and I felt just as lucky to have the chance to sing in this extraordinary building. I was wondering how large and ornate buildings built in the middle ages before modern machinery architects were able to create them! We sang songs like Ave Maria, Alleluia, and Lauda Sion which sounded wonderful in the cathedral, like they were meant to be sung in one (which they were!). After the concert we had some more time for an independent lunch and sightseeing around the Royal Mile. 
Some singers outside of St. Giles after our performance!

Next we departed for Loch Leven, one of Scotland's most famous lochs which doubles as a nature reserve.  We had to hours to explore and take in the beautiful sights of the loch, which included a castle on an island in the middle of the loch where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned -- she had to sneak out dressed as a Lady in Waiting in a boat! Some singers and staff chose to take a boat to that island to look around the castle. Some people walked along the side of the loch where we discovered a really cool playground with some things we had never seen before, including a four-person rope type swing that even Mr. Victoria tried out -- I have never seen him so genuinely happy and excited, he laughed the whole time! Some people made daisy chains and we got to see some sheep, too! 

Me (Emma) and friends at Loch Leven
After a relaxing drive through the gorgeous Scottish countryside we arrived back in Edinburgh where we did some more shopping and ended up at the Renada Hotel for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I am amazed to report that right now, at 9:40pm, it is still light out! I have never seen the sun go down here, I don't think it ever does. Now it's time to go to sleep so that tomorrow we can begin another day well-rested! Goodnight!

The whole gang! 

P.S. Hi Mom and Dad! I love and miss you, and am really sorry I haven't been able to e-mail, there's no free wifi here, keep reading the blog and I'll send you an e-mail as soon as I can! Also, please put more money on my card, if that is possible.  

UK Tour Day 1 (...and 2)

By: Casey Accardi, Premier Choir
Casey has been in BCC for six years. She is 18 years old. 
(Apologies for the lateness of this post, we had some technical difficulties. But everyone is alive and well!) 


Good Morning! Casey Accardi, BCC Blog founder, here! It is my pleasure to give you the scoop on the first day of our UK tour, and I am even more pleased to share that a different BCC singer will be writing a blog post each day while we're here. I hope you enjoy this series of posts -- feel free to use the comment box to say hello, we'll respond!

On June 27th, after plenty of last minute packing, I arrived at Logan Airport in the late afternoon ready to depart on a flight to London with BCC! While I was expecting to see my fellow singers, I was not expecting to see Xana, Liz, and Rabiah, alumnae of the chorus, who came bearing UK themed posters and a lot of BCC spirit. It was so great to see them and have them there to send us off on our trip! 

Liz, Xana, and Rabiah! Best alumni ever!
After saying our goodbyes to friends and family, check in, security, and finding our gate went smoothly. After a bit of a wait we boarded our 7pm flight: a six hour flight to London Heathrow Airport. For the first few hours the flight went wonderfully for me -- I read, socialized with other members of the chorus, flipped through my options on the TV screen implanted in the seat in front of me, etc. However, when the third hour of the flight (10pm Boston time, 3am UK time) rolled around I attempted to get some rest, things stopped going so smoothly! Sleeping on planes is not my forte, and when we landed in London I found that most of my peers were also unsuccessful!

Fettes College!
We had a quick layover in London and were soon on our way to Edinburgh -- this time a much shorter, 50 minute  flight. After landing began part two of what I'd call the longest day ever, meaning it was officially June 28th in Edinburgh, but I hadn't slept the night of the 27th! We boarded our tour bus -- a double decker bus!!! -- and headed off for some sight seeing with our courier David, tour guide, Kirstie, and bus driver, Frank. Kirstie told us everything about everywhere, including Fettes College, an elite private high school in Edinburgh that follows the English schooling system, therefore preparing students to apply to English schools like Oxford and St. Andrews. Fettes College is the school that J. K. Rowling based Hogwarts on, and I must say it looked pretty similar! 

My view from a bench at Edinburgh Castle... yes I took a quick nap.
After getting Lunch independently (many of my fellow chorus members ate at The Elephant Cafe, the coffee shop in which J.K. Rowling began writing the novel) we proceeded to Edinburgh Castle for our last sight-seeing stop of the day. Although I am pretty sure I fell asleep standing up more than once, it was an awesome sight to see! We then headed to the Travelodge and checked into our rooms, only to leave less than an hour later for dinner and rehearsal. At this point I'd been awake for nearly 30 hours so I apologize for the lack of detail! We ate dinner at the Three Sisters (a three course meal!) and our first rehearsal in the UK, although we were quite tired, sounded pretty good! I'm hoping our performance on the 29th at St. Giles goes wonderfully. 

P.S. I caught up with my friend and fellow chorus member, Gabi, about our trip here, because it was her first time on an airplane! She says, "It was like a roller coaster! I had fun! The food was good!" -- I'd say that's a pretty good review! Lets hope our trip home is just as lovely.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What We're Up To: TOUR!!!



This is the last blog post you will read before our Premier Choir and Young Men's Ensemble singers take over the blog entirely for about two weeks with their pictures, news and musings from tour. Tonight, 59 singers and 12 adults will board a British Airways flight to the United Kingdom for BCC's 4th international cultural exchange tour. The itinerary is available on our website. We hope you will support our community by following along on the journey! There are 3 ways you can do that: 
  1. Read our blog (you're one step ahead - keep it up!). A different singer will post to the blog each day! They will be excited to share their photos and thoughts on their day, and how it relates to their experience at BCC as a whole. We encourage you to comment on their postings - it's the best way of communicating with them while they are away. 
  2. Follow us on Twitter.  For all you tweeps, our handle is @BCChorus. Please use the hashtag #BCCtour for your tweets! If you're not on Twitter yet, it might be a good time to get "attwicted!"
  3. Find us on Facebook. We hope you will visit our page before the end of the tour on July 8th. During the tour, we are trying to raise the equivalent of one student's scholarship for the trip. You can find information about that Fundraising Project on our page, on the Support BCC tab. If a financial contribution is not possible at this time, we hope you will Join Our Cause, and share the information with your network of Facebook friends.
Thank you for the rich and vibrant community you've helped us to create here at BCC. We look forward to growing our reputation around the world with your support!







Friday, June 17, 2011

What BCC Means to Me - One Part of My Normal Life

By: Precious Perez, Central Intermediate
Precious has been in BCC for two years.  She is 13 years old.

It was a Thursday rehearsal when I presented a video of a day in my life with a visual impairment to Central Intermediate.  I was quite nervous, unsure of whether or not it would be beneficial, or would make a difference in the way the rest of the choir thought of me.

My video presentation entitled Precious Perez: A Day In the Life contained scenes of walking outside using my cane, adapted card games, and other significant and valuable information that would guide the rest of the choir and staff to better understand my disability, capability, and accommodations which allow me to live a perfectly normal and regular life.  Everyone was welcoming and honest, and I felt that my goal was achieved, that my goal of feeling that I am part of the choir as opposed to feeling special or different, which I am not.

All I am is visually impaired, and all that means is that my eyes do not work, but that does not keep me from doing the things that everyone else does and more, and as this presentation and its outcome show, all everyone needs is a little bit of education to surpass the assumption and misconception, and to expand their horizons with truth and reality.


video
Editor's Note: Because of technical problems, we are not able to share Precious' video presentation here, as she would have liked. However, we do have some footage of the follow-up Q&A that she had with her fellow singers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What We're Up To: The David Howse Edition

If there is one thing that you should know about David Howse, it’s that he doesn’t like to dwell on the accolades he receives. Instead, he looks for the next opportunity to raise the profile of BCC through public recognition. While the staff appreciates his humility, we are proud of his leadership success and would like to share two examples in this post!

First, David was interviewed on Magic 106.7 this past weekend for their show Boston Life. The host of the show read David’s recent Boston Globe article and was inspired to talk to him further. He spoke about the history of the chorus, his involvement in it, and our upcoming tour to the UK, among other things. You can hear the full interview here, on our website.

Second, David has been handpicked to be part of National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. This two-year initiative will bring together 100 global cultural leaders to address key issues of competition, investment and relevance.

Russell Willis Taylor, the CEO of National Arts Strategies, said the following about the program, “Our cultural institutions are at a crossroads, in which their relevance and even the role of the arts in civil society are being questioned. The Chief Executive Program will create a leadership community to reframe issues and develop new opportunities for individual institutions and create meaningful models for the field at large; and helping a set of outstanding individuals re-imagine what cultural institutions will be and how they can contribute to civil society.”

Clearly, David is honored to have a stake in shaping the conversation about arts and culture in our society. Also, as a very young and still relatively small organization, BCC stands to gain a lot from the exposure that this opportunity will provide. We look forward to sharing more about this program when it begins in the fall.

David’s reputation as a community builder and a progressive thinker is quickly cementing his future as a key leader in the cultural sector. We are so gratified to have him as our Executive Director!

We encourage you to Get Vocal! Support BCC’s efforts, or congratulate David by commenting below! If you are reading this post on our website, please visit bostonchildrenschorus.blogspot.com to make a comment.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What We're Up To: Building a Mentorship Program


One of the things that we see an opportunity to improve at BCC is the mentoring aspect of our youth development program. We hope that our readers know that we do A LOT more than sing here at BCC – if you need a reminder of what our mission is exactly, check it out on our website.

Edward Clapp
Over the summer, we are going to be working with Harvard Doctoral candidate Edward Clapp to launch an Omni-Directional Mentorship program (more on what that means later). It will be active starting at the beginning of next season. Over the past few months, Clapp has held one-on-one conversations with singers, parents, staff, and board members about how we relate to one another at BCC and how we can improve our interactions. He presented his initial findings this week in a discussion-oriented session at BCC Central, open to the same broad range of people.

He pointed out that when we typically think about mentorship, we imagine a top-down relationship (i.e. from a more experienced person to a less-experienced person). Omni-directional membership is different because it considers other directions, like bottom-up and lateral (i.e. peer) relationships. An organization that effectively uses omni-directional membership creates a web of learning, where “all leaders are learners, and all learners are leaders.”

Clapp presents his thoughts on the
points of "resonance"

and "dissonance" at BCC
In developing this program with BCC, Clapp is using a very appropriate metaphor – the voice! He asked attendees to think about how they “hear voice” and “have voice” within the organization, as well as the areas in which the very broad BCC community has “resonance” (i.e. agreement) and “dissonance” (i.e. disagreement). The greater the resonance within the organization, the more likely we are to have “harmony,” which Clapp defined as a powerful expression of the mission, vision, and/or purpose of the organization.
Singers, parents, staff
and board offered ideas.
The group in attendance talked about a lot of ways that we could foster relationships within and across stakeholder groups. Singers expressed a strong interest in getting to know the board, newer parents wanted an opportunity to interact with older parents, parents were interested in experiencing what singers are learning in rehearsal.

However the program takes shape this fall, all of us can count on being asked to be involved, including our audience, funders, and alumni! Clapp is intent on enhancing our community through knowledge sharing and “curiosity about the other.” We hope you’ll come along with us on this journey, because our community has something to learn from your voice!

Why not start Getting Vocal now? Leave a comment about your role in BCC’s community, the ways you would like to see it grow or change, and your suggestions about how we should get there! If you are reading this post on our website, please visit the blog at bostonchildrenschorus.blogspot.com to make your comment. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What We're Up To: Season Finale Concert

By: Maddie Mechem, Concert Choir

Maddie has been in BCC for 4 years. She is 15 years old.

   On May 22nd, BCC performed its last concert of the season. This is the concert where everyone shows off what they learned during the year, and says goodbye to the departing seniors, which is like saying goodbye to family. In Concert Choir, we had to say goodbye to Vanessa Zamy, who will attend Stanford, and Amanda Yee, who is going to UMASS Lowell.

Members of CU
   There is always a lot to do before the final concert, since we have to look and sound our best. In years past, we have based the concert on a theme, like musicals (2008-09) or movies (2009-10), but this year, we had no theme, just a lot of great music.

   Concert Choir and Choral Union started off the concert with The Storm is Passing Over, a gospel piece that was really fun to sing despite the difficulties of clapping and singing at the same time. CU then performed Windy Nights and Ojos Azules, the latter of which was extremely pretty, and done a capella.

 We followed up with We Will, Rise Up My Love (which is a text from the Song of Solomon, and was also done a capella), and This is the Day, in which Olayeni and Oladunni Oladipo did a fantastic solo. After this, CC went up to the balcony to watch the rest of the show.
Training choirs with Ms. I
    The Training Choirs followed us. They sang Siyahamba, O Desayo, and Ching a Ring Chaw (and Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’), and they did a great job on all three. Then came the Intermediate Choirs, who sang Ma Navu (Hebrew text), How Can I Keep From Singing? (American folk hymn), and Everlasting Melody, all of which were performed very well, especially Ma Navu, which was intense, but pretty at the same time.
 
    After Everlasting Melody, all the choirs sang together for A Place In This World, a very pretty piece written by BCC’s Composer-in-Residence, Bill Banfield. I love this song, because it has a really sweet message, that “everyone has a place in the world.”

Ella plays cuatro during
La Paloma
After this piece, YME took the stage for Despertar (“to wake up”), a fantastic song about someone who sees the sun rise, and is amazed by everything around him. Then PC came on and performed La Paloma (“the dove”), which is a pretty and attention-grabbing piece, with Ella Williams on the cuatro, which looks like a ukulele, but sounds more like a guitar. Both pieces had originally been performed at the April 9th concert with Maria Guinand. After La Paloma, PC and YME sang Alleluia, which was another pretty song, and Mr. T-K acknowledged the graduating seniors and their families. PC began to sing If I had a Dream, which was performed at the MLK concert with Kyle and Christopher Massey. They sang it for about 30 seconds, then stopped to laughter and applause, and everyone was smiling. PC and YME then sang another piece from the April 9th concert, Salseo, which seems like a fun piece to sing, and sounds great.

    As the finale, CC, who had been waiting patiently for about half an hour, came up on stage. PC and YME were behind us on the risers, and everyone else was in front of us. CC was going to be the call for Sahayta, a multi-lingual call-and-response song, which we had been performing for around two months. For this concert we had several people, me included, who volunteered to go up to a microphone, and give the definition of one of the words from the song. The words varied in difficulty from “Peace and Joy” (spoken by Nancy Chomitz) to “!Uba !Uoba” (Alexander Lee-Papastavros). The reason this last word was the most difficult is because the “!” is a tongue click. My word was “Shalom,” meaning “peace.” This song contained words in Swahili (washirika), Amharic (ngoyila), Arabic (salaam, selam), Filipino (bayanihan, aawitankita, halo halo), Damara (!uba!uoba), Hebrew (shalom), English (peace and joy), Hindi (ektaa), Sanskrit (sahayta), and Spanish (unidad), as well as a two-part clapping pattern. This piece was fun to do, and we must have carried it off pretty well, since we got a standing ovation for it.

Final Song of the Season!
This was a great concert, and although I wish it was not the last, it was fun to have been a part of it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Outside Our Walls: A Composer-in-Training!

By: Abby Nordan, Central Training Choir
Abby has been in BCC for two years. She is 8 years old.

Editor's Note: In the spirit of the holiday earlier this week, we would like to share the great work of one of our youngest singers. By the time she reaches Premier Choir, we hope she's composing for us!

Every year, my school has a Memorial Day assembly. After last year's assembly, I wrote this song, which was sung this year at the assembly by the 5th graders at my school. I wrote the melody and words, and my music teacher made up the piano accompaniment.