Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Interview with BCC Artistic Director, Anthony Trecek-King


Ileana asks the difficult question: “what is creative social integration?” as she sits down with BCC Artistic Director Anthony Trecek-King who gives his thoughts on the season so far, and how it is through song that BCC singers learn something more: the ability to connect. He also talks about  introducing a jazz element into a future concert.

Trecek-King has just come off from being named a Creative Activist by ArtCorps.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Interview with Taylor Bodman, Brown Brothers Harriman


Taylor S. Bodman is Partner at the investment bank Brown Brothers Harriman. Taylor is also passionate about music, and spent most of his young life immersed in music theory, conducting, composition and music history. He started out singing in a church choir in San Francisco and continued to sing in school in Washington D.C. He speaks here about the experience of music and the delight in having rules, and then breaking them. He shares how the analytical skills developed while learning music helped him in his career.

Ultimately he speaks about how music gave him an openness and versatility that was beneficial to life overall.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Interview with Catherine D'Amato, The Greater Boston Food Bank


Catherine D'Amato is President/ CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank and comes from a strong musical background where she has performed at Fenway, recorded albums and toured. Here she talks to BCC about the value of a musical education and how it helped her career, along with the joy music has brought to her life.

She describes music as an "equalizer" and speaks about specific singing skills she has brought to her career approach, and how she let music play in her life.

Find out more about The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Interview with Khamari Barnes

Khamari Barnes is a member of the Boston Children's Chorus. Here he talks to Kathy Newman about his growth within the chorus, Michael Jackson and other influences on his artistic outlook.

He also has many, many, many followers on Twitter!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tour 2013 Continues!

In Hanoi, BCC took in some wildly contrasting tours. We took a tour of the "Hanoi Hilton" where Senator John McCain spent time.  On a lighter note  we saw a traditional Water Puppet show. While it may be "lighter," it does carry cultural heft as traditional legends and historical tales are transmitted through this enchanting artistic format. It was colorful and elegant, gorgeous and lush. 

The following day, we embarked upon a 2 hour trip the Thuy An Center for Disabled Children.  About 200 local students from Hanoi also were there; they have adopted this center to help the students.  An elaborate program of performances by the disabled children and the volunteers along with BCC entertained everyone.  Many of the students from Hanoi were eager to practice their English on us, and I think some are 'liking' us on Facebook as I type :)  Then we helped deliver food and gifts to all of the children. As always the singers displayed a great dignity and captivated our hosts. 

in the afternoon we visited a very interesting museum - the Museum of Ethnology - which gives information about how the many different ethnic groups in Vietnam live.  There are over 50 different ethnicities in vietnam.  There were wonderful examples of the homes they lived in and still live in today.  That afternoon our students met their host families from Hanoi.

The following day (June 29) the singers all had nice individual experiences with their host families then we all met for lunch at the Seasons Restaurant before going to rehearsal at the beautiful Hanoi Opera House.  As you've read, the concert was sold out again and the audience was very appreciative of the show.  The MCs did a great job of interviewing Marlon, Mr. TK and our youngest singer Amechi.  

An early morning awaited us as we said farewell to Hanoi to head to the airport for Phnom Penh.  The driving is a tricky especially in a bus. We safely arrived in Phnom Penh and met Amanda from ACFEA and our tour guides.  We checked into the Phnom Penh hotel and the singers had the afternoon to swim and rest after visting the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.  You could take photos of the beautiful buildings but not of the inside.  We had a beautiful dinner at the Bopha Restaurant, which was next to a river.  We were able to watch two traditional dancers show us a traditional dance about the growth of the lotus flower.  

Kind Words from a Host Family in Hanoi

Our family had a great time hosting Nafisa Ware and Olivia Duvall in Hanoi, Vietnam. They were true Ambassadors of Culture. We admired their professionalism, the love for music and the seriousness about their job. My kids will surely miss their new friends. 
From Nguyễn Quỳnh Trang

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hanoi Opera House Performance

A spectacular building in Hanoi played host to the Ambassadors of Harmony on June 29, as a large crowd were enthralled by the vibrant songs of BCC.

But enough of my words...Nguyet Minh Le was an audience member and said thus: "

YOU GUYS BLEW MY MIND TONIGHT ♥ ♥ ♥ :"i had just wonderful and unforgetable moments ! ! ! hearing you guys gives me the inspiration and...feelings that i can not express by words!!!! "

Not a bad job in expression, in fairness :) In addition to the old favorites such as "Rock My Soul" and "We Sing" that were sang with great gusto, the folk song from Vietnam was a big, big hit. It's especially poignant that "We Sing" was first performed in public on Boston City Hall Plaza in September and has traveled all the way to Hanoi Opera House.

The theater itself was a thing of beauty- a French neoclassic style building with a wonderful acoustic value. It's truly an honor for BCC's young singers to perform in such a space. Hats off to everyone for making this happen!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26: Tour

Our hosts, Tran Nhan Tong academy, organized a very special viewing of the very new show A O.  A O show is a new kind of art performance commonly acknowledged globally as "new circus".  It was a wonderful acrobatic show revealing some traditions of Vietnam through music and movement as well as connecting the audience to the modern Vietnam.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  

We had another wonderful lunch and then had a rehearsal in the HCM Opera House.  Mr. TK, Mr. Hires, Emma Kromm and Branden Miles were interviewed by Ho Chi Minh TV  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh_City_Television) about the special concert and what our experiences have been in Vietnam so far as well as why we wanted to come here to perform.  

The evening's concert was well attended and very well received, especially when we sang a Vietnamese Folk Song.  They also requested we sing Up to the Mountain since many knew we sang it at the Interfaith Service in April.  It was a wonderful evening of crossing boundaries and connecting with new friends.  Sadly we leave Ho Chi Minh in the morning for Hanoi, but we are excited to continue our Southeast Asia adventure!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Impressions: Tour 2013

Our travels on China Eastern went very well with everyone either watching Diary of the Wimpy Kid or getting many hours of shut eye.  Other than a 2 hour delay in Shanghai we had very easy travel.  The delay meant, however, we arrived at the Liberty Central Hotel at 3am and had to be up at 8:30am for breakfast and sight-seeing!

Our hotel, Liberty Central Hotel, is in the heart of District 5 and downtown Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.  Though today the city is called Ho Chi Minh many people still call it Saigon.  We met our guides Ti and Man, who met us at the airport though we were too sleeply to notice and our ACFEA tour guide Robert Latimer from Australia again.  They took us to the Reunification Hall where South Vietnam surrendered to the Viet Cong, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the French built Post Office building, a Chinese pagoda, a Chinese market place and the Siagon Central Market.  There is a very large Chinese population in Vietnam and a China Town larger than San Francisco's.  The most interesting and impactful stop of the day was the War Remnants Museum which gave a very particular view of the American or Vietnam War especially through photo journalism of photos from photographers from Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and the US.  The horrors of US torture, use of Agent Orange, and the escalation of the US involvement are all portrayed very honestly.  As they say, there are 3 sides to history, the winning, the losing and the truth. Before dinner the chorus had a debrief on the very (chilling) images and information.  Many of the singers picked up on the fact that the presentation was very one sided but at the same time took away the horror of war.

However, today, Tuesday, we extended the mission of BCC of breaking down barriers using music when we visited the Organization for the Support and Education of Disadvantaged Children.  For over 39 years, two men have been giving children affected by Agent Orange and other very poor orphans the opportunity to gain an education and explore learning traditional Vietnamese music.  We were given a very nice performance of many traditional instruments by students who were blind and had other physical disabilities as well as some very spirited young marital artists.  BCC had a chance to share some of their music and get to play some of the special Vietnamese instruments.

In the afternoon, we all had the once in a life opportunity to learn about how the Viet-Cong survived the war by living in very deep tunnels dug in the ground.  Many of the singers bravely went into some very tight dirt holes in the ground and crawled 30 to 60 meters under the ground.  

So far it has been very humid and lived up to our expectations that we were going to sweat!  luckily the bus is airconditioned and fully stocked with water and these little wet napkins we use to refresh ourselves.  Driving in the bus is the most exciting thing as there are 10 million people in Saigon and 4 million motor bikes.  There are no driving rules!  Everything works organically.  Ocassionally our bus gives a big toot on the horn to work motor bikes to not come too close.  Though today at the orphanage another truck hit one of our buses and quite the argument ensued.  Our bus driver somehow confiscated the other driver's license so that he would come back with some $$ to pay for damage.  Cash is king here; no insurance.  Also, we've all got use to using Vietnamese Dong and many of us are millionaires as 500,000 dong is about $25 USD.  But the US dollar is widely accepted and one doesn't even need to change money to buy anything. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tour 2013 Blog with Regular Updates

Tour 2013 Blog with Regular Updates

The singers are on their way to Southeast Asia! We will be documenting their progress here an also on the Southend Patch blog. Here they are leaving and looking wide awake at an early hour as they trundle towards JFK for a flight that will take them to Shanghai for a short layover, and then onto Ho Chi Minh...and then the experiences will just come rolling in! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Post MLK

So many voices...special guests...singers...media. BCC's annual tribute concert is built upon VOICE. Get Vocal. Join Us. The one voice that we all stop to listen to ironically is the man standing in front of the screen waving his arms around- something exuberantly, sometimes mournfully. No, not our artistic director...it's the weatherman. He gave us an off-green light as a light snow was to be the only thing standing between BCC and a lively night of song. It merely dusted outside but inside Jordan the energy whipped up to construct a memorable occasion.

I could waffle on, dusting off my thesaurus looking for 50 different ways to say "SUPERB" so why not hand it over to some kind folks who emailed. Here's what they said:

"The concert was absolutely amazing and the best one I have been to. Please tell everyone kudos and thank you for a wonderful job, so well done. You should have all been singing at the Inauguration! I enjoyed the concert so much. "

"We LOVED the concert!  So much more than we expected.  All the kids looked they were really having a great time.  Thanks so much for making us ambassadors for the day!  Would love to see more of BCC in future concerts"

"Was a great concert, so glad I brought folks who had not yet been to a BCC concert. They were left speechless! Stay warm!"

"There is nothing to say except it was wonderful and what an outstanding tribute to Dr. King.  The young people in the chorus have had such an opportunity and so many more await them."  

"An extraordinary evening, yet again . Sing. Sing. Sing"

"I cried and I didn't care. The songs warmed my soul so much that I didn't notice the snow outside."


Friday, January 11, 2013


A milestone date arrives on BCC's rich horizon on January 21st, 2013. The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and the mission of BCC have been linked since the birth of this organization, and this year celebrating 10 Years of Harmony brings BCC to a point of reflection and celebration. Melinda Doolittle and Cindy Blackman Santana are the 2 guests this year, and the chorus is sounding in the finest of form. A great day lies in wait.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

...the family that's in it

Nancy Chomitz
Jenn Cox

Nancy and Jenn are 2 BCC Alums adding to the very nostalgic buzz in BCC Central on an unusually balmy Thursday in January. Walking through the BCC doors to sing again with the chorus, Nancy and Jenn take a break from their respective schools at UMass Amherst and  University of Southern California. 

"Feels awsome to be back. It's something that I miss so much, and it's great to be back and fit right in," says Jenn. "I thought it would feel weird but it feels like home again."

"I'm missing music pretty badly," according to Nancy. "I missed the music auditions this year, as they were in the first week of school but I'm going to try out next year for sure." All the way in Southern California, Jenn experienced the same awkward audition timing "being in the exact same boat" in dealing with a new school that first week." This temporary absence of a singing schedule has impact on Nancy: "I need to get into singing. I need that sort of family back. I-need-to-be-singing.I feel a little incomplete."

On changes she has noticed, Nancy talks of the branding change: "I like the new logo," she says, as her eye scours the room looking for updated merchandise. "It's really pretty," says Jenn. "I miss the old one but this one is really, really cool."

BCC prepared Jenn to embrace diversity as she first walked into USC with its 17,000 undergrads. "My high school itself was kinda diverse but not like BCC, which was a great introduction to the real world in terms of different cultures. I have a suite-mate from China, one from Thailand, one from Canada."

"For UMass it is very odd as it has 24,000 undergrads but it's not as diverse as you'd expect and you're like 'where is everyone!' and that took getting used to, but BCC prepared me in being a better socializer," says Nancy "BCC was a great way to meet people and to build social skills. Everyone starts with college asking 'what's going on?' and I'm able to approach people and say 'let's be friends right now!' and it works."

BCC helped developed confidence in that you can talk to anyone," adds Jenn. "It was a tough semester in USC. I was in with seniors in one class but I learned to ask questions and that was important."

(at this point in the conversation Gabrielle Brutus walks in to say 'hi' to her long lost buddies)

Dorm life is treating Nancy and Jenn exceedingly well. Nancy met her room-mate in her summer orientation, and Jenn is delighted also with her dorm suite. "They're all great. I was a little bit nervous at first because I hadn't actually met any of them, and my room-mate was from China- making me nervous about language differences but being in BCC made me overcome that quickly." Jenn was adopted from China and didn't know a lot about it. "She's been telling me a lot and it's been great," says Jenn.

The 2 BCC alums are in buoyant spirits as they head off to sing (what else!) with the chorus. There is genuine warmth in the turbo-charged manic chatter around BCC Central as everyone tries to catch up.

"I wish my school was closer to BCC," says Jenn. "I miss the family of it."

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Gabrielle Brutus & Olivia Geneus

"The songs give me goosebumps," says Olivia Geneus just before she plunges into the first rehearsal back from the Holidays. It's Thursday and it is COLD.

It's Olivia's first MLK Concert with PC. Gabrielle has done 3 or 4 MLK concerts. The level of song memorization has ramped up, and that brings a bit of pressure. "Focus at rehearsals gets it done," according to Gabrielle. "The theme of the concert tells a lot like don't judge a book by its cover...you never know somebody until you actually get to know them."

"A Change Is Gonna Come" resonates with the two singers as it provides a connection to the spirit of the civil rights movement. It also drives the singers to want to know more of the era where MLK demanded we focus on humanity and unity.  "It sounds so good when the Young Men's Ensemble are here and you get the melodies going. When everyone sings together, it really works," says Olivia.

The special guests do add a "buzz" to the special evening. On November 4th, everyone enjoyed Patrick Chung's enthused participation in the season-opener. But at the end of the day it's the hard work of knowing your music, revising everything, knowing your notes, everything; and then to ask questions if you're confused. It requires...content of characater.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Hola BCC family! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Now after such a relaxing break, BCC in heading into the busiest weeks of the season; the rehearsals leading up to MLK! We'll be having words from our singers about MLK and how they feel about the History behind it, and how their futures have opened up in the spirit of Martin Luther King by being able to have the opportunity to follow the future they want.
Here's a word from our singer from Young Men's Ensemble; a wonderful and talented young man who has quite a bit to offer the world! Expanding his musical horizons, Khamari Barnes has originals published for many to see; check out his facebook page at www.facebook.com/khamaribarnes!

"BCC has been one of the best tools I’ve ever encountered in my life. Tool as in life tools. BCC has taught me so much I thought I already knew about music, but did not. I can honestly say that BCC and its staff are the reason that I am the person I am today.

Musically, I only knew the foundation. I started in Dorchester Intermediate Choir where I was behooved by the amount of information that I would have to learn in order to be a professional musician. Though the hours of rehearsal were pretty consuming, the experience is unlike anything you experience else-where.

Since my start of BCC, I have graduated thorough the system to YME. YME is even more time consuming, but the pay off is amazing. After traveling the world with my best friends, I have realized a lot about myself, and about my friends. BCC has given me the opportunity to go places I would have never gone other wise.

Outside of BCC, using the tools I’ve been provided to write some of my own music!"

~Khamari Barnes
Young Men's Ensemble