Michael Kerschner / Artistic Director

YNYC Blog

A Note…
But every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
-Cloudbusting, Kate Bush
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For 12 years, hardly a quiet moment has passed that I don’t think of YNYC. This was true a few weeks ago. I was sitting alone in a dark room in a museum that houses an installation by James Turrell called The Pleiades. To enter, I had to feel my way up an ascending ramp and I found a chair by falling into it. I was aware that there was a railing around the chair, like you would find on a small terrace. The space beyond was impenetrably dark. Nobody told me what to expect, but I assumed it would involve seeing something.
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I wondered if my eyes worked well enough to see what I was supposed to see. You should probably know: a choral conductor’s favorite way of knowing a room is to conduct a group of singers in it. But, bereft of an ensemble and equipped with my less than perfect hearing, I waited for time and my eyes to do what was needed to see the stars that Turrell wanted me to see. Without trust, everything is loss. So, after 15 minutes in The Pleiades, what did I see? An amorphous gray nebula. A vivid cloud, like a loud silence. Was it worth the wait? Process in art is an action of faith, and so the answer is, and always is, yes.
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There, in the stillness of The Pleiades, just a few weeks away from the end of my tenure, I was thinking about our major commission by Shara Warden, another work titled The Pleiades, which we performed in concert along with the tragic oratorio The Little Match Girl Passion. As usual, the singers rallied and pulled off a powerful performance, bringing passion to a concert about compassion.
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I thought about our premier performances of major works by Mohammed Fairouz, one of the most important young composers of our time, and how the technical difficulty of his works was compounded by their political and emotional intensity. Few other ensembles have been brave enough to tackle these works.
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I thought about the conversations we were able to engender, especially around our Christmas concerts, which have been fantastic opportunities to meditate on the difference between an idea of love, and the actions of love.
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I thought of our times working with great orchestras, our commanding performance at the ACDA National Conference, our tour to Washington, our exciting collaborations with visual artists, and our appearances in the Radiolab color episodes. Experiences like these have been expansive for YNYC.
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I thought about the Competition for Young Composers, and how eagerly the organization takes upon itself the challenge of presenting untested works, knowing that the risk is a part of the fun, and that our commitment to young composers is the most vital part of our mission. Making friends with great composers who are taking all of us further.
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We’ve asserted ourselves as a powerful force in new music, and we’ve become bigger and stronger for it. It can feel like we’re out of step with the times because we are in the habit of lending light when the zeitgeist is about throwing shade. Sound illuminates a dark path. Anyhow, I love the sound as metaphor trope, but the consequences of cultural tone deafness are more alarming than a wrong note. So, the metaphor fails, but that’s because what we do here is not merely metaphor. By genre, by name, by spirit, we are a chorus in a community of sanctuary; the sound of humanity in harmony.
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The more things change, the more they remain themselves. It’s been a great honor to stand before these ensembles, and I’ll miss following their extraordinary sound into places that I recognize as home. I took over from the outstanding founding conductor Nathan Davis, and Christopher Mueller was my invaluable friend and assistant for my first 10 seasons. With thanks to our inspired volunteer leadership, a passionate Board of Directors, and our wonderful, dedicated singers, we have grown boldly with vision and creative spirit, achieving prestige without becoming pretentious. We are kind, and grateful. I am grateful. Alex Canovas, YNYC’s new Artistic Director, is going to do marvelous work. He is a star.

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The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus Appoints Alex Canovas as its Next Artistic Director

The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus (YNYC), a nonprofit organization that fosters the art of choral singing and brings new music to life by creating opportunities for young composers, is pleased to announce the appointment of Alex Canovas as its next Artistic Director, effective for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. Canovas, an experienced vocal artist and conductor, was selected following a nearly year-long search process. His appointment was enthusiastically approved by YNYC’s Board of Directors this month.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are pleased to welcome Alex Canovas to the YNYC family as our next Artistic Director and the conductor of both our mixed and women’s ensembles,” said Maeve Montalvo, Secretary of the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. “Alex shares YNYC’s core values through his commitment to collaborative leadership, high-quality vocal technique and socially-conscious programming. This has been a season of change for us and he has already proven his dedication to our musical family. We feel sure that Alex possesses the right skill set, leadership and vision to lead our organization forward.”

“I am honored, humbled, and incredibly excited to join YNYC as its next Artistic Director,” said Alex Canovas. “This wonderful family of excellent musicians has made a great impact through its pursuit of passion through the arts, the community it has created for young New Yorkers, and its dedication to premiering new music and supporting young composers. I am thrilled to become a part of it.”

Canovas is currently the Associate Conductor of the critically-acclaimed vocal ensemble, Choral Chameleon. His recent projects include performances at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As an ardent supporter of new music, this summer he will enter his fifth year as Singer-Faculty at Choral Chameleon’s annual Summer Institute. Canovas will also be working as an Associate Conductor on the Mostly Mozart Festival’s mass choral production of John Luther Adams’ ‘In the Name of the Earth’, held in Central Park this August. In addition, Canovas serves as the Director of Music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and as the Operations Manager for the Empire City Men’s Chorus.

As an upstate New York native, Canovas graduated from the Ithaca College School of Music with a B.M. in Vocal Performance. Following graduation, he moved to New York City and served on staff at OPERA America’s National Opera Center. After leaving to pursue performance exclusively, Canovas served as the Assistant Conductor of the Ridgewood, NJ-based ensemble Ars Musica.

Canovas will succeed Michael Kerschner, who has led YNYC since 2006. Under Kerschner’s leadership, YNYC performed at the 2011 American Choral Directors’ National Convention in Chicago, created its women’s ensemble in 2012, and collaborated with visual artists Eyebodega and Marco Brambilla and composers including Caroline Shaw, Mohammed Fairouz, and Shara Worden. Kerschner also oversaw YNYC’s annual Competition for Young Composers, through which YNYC has commissioned and performed over two dozen works by emerging artists. The board and leadership express their unending gratitude for his 12 years of inspired leadership and vision.

Kerschner’s final performance with YNYC will be this coming Saturday, June 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy in New York.

About the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus

YNYC, founded in 2001, was built to provide a fellowship for talented singers in their 20s and 30s who could nurture and develop a close-knit community in New York City. YNYC performs a vast variety of music, from works by classical greats to those of prominent living composers and upholds its mission to bring new music to life through its annual Competition for Young Composers, as well as frequent commissions and collaborations with living artists. YNYC enjoys a grassroots organizational structure that utilizes the skills of its members and volunteers to manage its growth and visibility in the New York City choral scene. Learn more at www.ynyc.org.

For media inquiries, please contact Kierstin Coatney at Kierstin@ynyc.org.

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Meet the Composers: Lydia Jane Pugh

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, YNYC’s Mixed and Women’s Ensembles will perform ‘Only All of Us’ featuring world premiere works for double chorus from our Competition for Young Composers.

We are pleased to introduce our third finalist for YNYC’s 2018 Competition for Young Composers, Lydia Jane Pugh!

Lydia Jane Pugh

Composition for YNYC: Adiraϊ (‘Misplaced’)

 

Lydia (b.1986) studied for a BA in music at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, going on to complete an MA in composition at Leeds College of Music in 2010. Lydia’s first commission was for the the Guernsey Glee singers, which resulted in a performance of ‘The Land Where I was Born’ at the Praga Cantat in Prague 2007. In 2009 her choral work “The Year Suite” was premiered by the Liberation Singers, and she was commissioned by the Guernsey Choral Society for Christmas 2010, a performance which was recorded for broadcast on BBC Guernsey. Lydia has also been a finalist for several competitions, including the ‘National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composer Award’, ‘Australian Boys Choir Choral Composing Competition’. Lydia’s music has also taken her abroad, as she has taken part in the Composers Workshop for the Charlotte New Music Festival, the Lehigh Choral Composers Forum, and most recently the Choral Chameleon Institute in New York, USA. At such events her work has been performed and recored by professional ensembles, including The Princeton Singers, The Great Noise Ensemble and The Choral Chameleon Singers. Lydia also works as a vocal coach, and was recently award both the John Owen-Jones Award and the P.J. Proby Award from The Voice College, along with her Advanced Professional Diploma in Teaching Contemporary Singing.

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Meet the Composers – Casey Rule

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, YNYC’s Mixed and Women’s Ensembles will perform ‘Only All of Us’ featuring world premiere works for double chorus from our Competition for Young Composers.

We are pleased to introduce our next of three finalists for YNYC’s 2018 Competition for Young Composers, Casey Rule! 

Casey Rule

Composition for YNYC: The Rocky Road to Dublin

Casey Rule is a “programmer by day and musician by night”, working as a Wall Street software engineer, leading the technology team for a growing ed-tech start up, serving as the business and technical director of NoteNova Publishing, singing and conducting with the Choral Composer-Conductor Collective, and writing music when he’s not writing code.  Among his awards for composition are the 2012 Singing City Prize for Young Composers, the Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble’s 2014 Composer Search, the 2014 ACDA-PA Choral Composition Competition, the Ithaca College Thirty-Sixth Annual Choral Composition Contest, and The Esoterics 2016 POLYPHONOS Choral Composition Competition.  Rule graduated from Lehigh University where he studied computer science, music composition, and conducting, earning an Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences. 

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Meet the Composers: Ed Frazier Davis

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, YNYC’s Mixed and Women’s Ensembles will perform ‘Only All of Us’ featuring world premiere works for double chorus from our Competition for Young Composers.

We are pleased to introduce our first of three finalists for YNYC’s 2018 Competition for Young Composers, Ed Frazier Davis!  

Ed Frazier Davis

Composition for YNYC: Keep Going

Ed Frazier Davis (b. 1989) is an English-American composer living and working in Kansas City, where he is a doctoral student at UMKC and Composer-in-Residence for the William Baker Choral Foundation. Lauded for its “compelling, […] colourful orchestration” (Musical Toronto), Ed’s music is polystylistic and draws from many eclectic influences, from Medieval song to postminimalism and practically everything in between. His music has been commissioned and performed throughout the world by many renowned performers and organizations, including Access Contemporary Music, the Aspen Music Festival, Bella Voce, The Crossing, soprano Erin Wall, the Lincoln Trio, PLEXUS, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Ultimately, he seeks to write music that breaks established artistic binaries—e.g. traditional vs. modern, accessible vs. unfamiliar—to create art that is fulfilling to as wide an audience as possible. Also an experienced professional singer, he currently serves as bass section leader at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, and in the fall of 2018 will join the Grammy-winning Kansas City Chorale for his first season. He has studied composition with Bruce Polay, Marta Ptaszyńska, Kyong Mee Choi, Stacy Garrop, Gabriel Jackson, Chen Yi, James Mobberley, and Zhou Long. continue reading »

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In memory of Daniel Thompson

On Sunday, March 11, 2018, we lost one of our very dear chorus members and the president of our board, Daniel Thompson. Along with four others, Daniel was the victim of a tragic helicopter accident in New York City.

Daniel touched so many lives over his nearly ten years singing with us in the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, while also helping to lead our organization since 2016. We will forever miss his smile, his leadership, his friendship and his mighty baritone voice.

To celebrate his life, the YNYC community invites you to join us in a memorial service honoring Daniel this Thursday, March 22 from 6-8 p.m. Additional details can be found below.

When: Thursday, March 22nd
Where: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 346 West 20th Street, NY NY 10011
Time: 6-8pm Memorial, 8-9pm Post-Memorial gathering.
All attendees are invited to participate in a memory board. Please bring a letter to Daniel, written memory, or a photo with a remembrance on the back to share.

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Meet the Composers: Grace Ann Lee

This Saturday, April 29, the YNYC Women’s Ensemble will perform ‘Story Time’, featuring stories of humor, fantasy, loss, and memory.  This year, for the first time, the Women’s Ensemble will premiere YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, an international search for submissions from composers aged 18-35. This year’s three finalists represent the best new music for Women’s Choir.

Finally, we are pleased to introduce you to our third finalist for YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, Grace Ann Lee!  Here is Grace’s Story:

Grace Ann Lee

Two Butterflies went out at Noon

Grace Ann Lee (b. 1996) is an aspiring composer who most recently had her work WORDS, WIDE NIGHT performed in May 2016 by the students in Eastman School of Music (as the winner of the Society of Chamber music in Rochester composition competition). She is a member of the 2014 and 2015 YoungArts National Foundation in composition, and is also one of the winners in NAfME All-National competition for composers, Second Degree “The Other Composition Competition” 2012 and 2014 NYSSMA Honors Composers Competition, Persis Vehar Composition Competition. Her works have been premiered by the Women’s Works by the Women in Music, and in Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Grace Ann started her musical career by studying the piano at age 4 and expanded her studies in music through cello and Hae-Geum (Traditional Korean Folk-Instrument). She also was an active member in numerous orchestras, children’s choirs, and studied music theory and jazz. She continues to incorporate her diverse musical learning in her works as a composer. Grace Ann began studying composition at age 17 with Dr. Stephen Shewan, and is currently studying composition in Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under the instruction of Professor Aaron Travers.

Grace Ann’s Story

What is your most treasured possession?

My relationships with all the valuable people in my life.

If you could do anything else besides composing, what would it be?

If I hadn’t become a composer, I would have become a cellist. I was very serious about playing the cello until my senior year of high school.

I think I could have also been successful with a career in voiceovers for cartoons. I can sound like a 5-year old super bubbly child or a 50-year old way-too-serious narrator lady. My roommates always compliment me on how much character I have in my voice!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Esther from the Bible. Not only was she beautiful and wise but she had a vision in her life. I hope to live a life full of meaning and purpose, as Esther did.

Please join us at 6pm in the Recital Hall (upstairs) for a pre-concert talk back with our finalists and YNYC’s artistic leadership! The Q&A/Talk back is free with the purchase of your ticket! Concert will start at 7pm.

YNYC Women’s Ensemble Presents: Story Time

Saturday, April 29th | Talk back/Q&A 6pm | Concert 7pm

St. Michael’s Church | NY, NY
Tickets: http://wynycstorytime.bpt.me

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Meet the Composers: Andrey Stolyarov

This Saturday, April 29, the YNYC Women’s Ensemble will perform ‘Story Time’, featuring stories of humor, fantasy, loss, and memory.  This year, for the first time, the Women’s Ensemble will premiere YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, an international search for submissions from composers aged 18-35. This year’s three finalists represent the best new music for Women’s Choir.

We are pleased to introduce you to our second of three finalists for YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, Andrey Stolyarov!  Here is Andrey’s Story:

Andrey Stolyarov

Found

Andrey Stolyarov is a Russian-born American composer, conductor, singer, and educator. Most recently, his work Out of the depths for mixed choir, treble choir, organ, and orchestra won the 2016 John Kuzma Young Composers Award. His piece Ebb & Flow won first prize at the 2014 ISAM Festival Joseph Dorfman International Composition Competition in Ochsenhausen, Germany. Additionally, Andrey was a finalist in the 2016 and 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould competitions, the 2014 Khorikos ensemble’s ORTUS competition, an honorable mention in the 2015 American Prize choral division, and a semifinalist in the 2015 American Prize chamber division. Andrey is currently pursuing doctoral studies in music composition at The Hartt School in West Hartford, CT. Andrey is Co-director of The Hartford New Music Festival, Director of Music at West Avon Congregational Church in Avon, CT, Artistic Director of NoteNova Publishing, and is a graduate music theory teaching fellow at The Hartt School. Previously, he was the director of the Composer’s Ensemble Chorus at The Hartt School, and Composer-in-Residence at The Unitarian Society of Hartford. He is an active professional singer, currently performing with CONCORA and the Hartford Chorale. Andrey is published under Darushkii Publishing and NoteNova Publishing.

Andrey’s Story

What is your most treasured possession?

My wedding ring!

If you could do anything else besides composing, what would it be?

Before I began my undergraduate degree in music I wanted to pursue a degree in astronomy or astrophysics, so that would be it for me! Other options would be something to do with animals, or maybe something in politics.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Galileo Galilei – a brilliant mind, unrelenting skeptic, and a goliath in science. And the cherry on top – an accomplished musician!

Please join us at 6pm in the Recital Hall (upstairs) for a pre-concert talk back with our finalists and YNYC’s artistic leadership! The Q&A/Talk back is free with the purchase of your ticket! Concert will start at 7pm.

YNYC Women’s Ensemble Presents: Story Time

Saturday, April 29th | Talk back/Q&A 6pm | Concert 7pm

St. Michael’s Church | NY, NY
Tickets: http://wynycstorytime.bpt.me

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Meet the Composers: Alexander Campkin

This Saturday, April 29, the YNYC Women’s Ensemble will perform ‘Story Time’, featuring stories of humor, fantasy, loss, and memory.  This year, for the first time, the Women’s Ensemble will premiere YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, an international search for submissions from composers aged 18-35. This year’s three finalists represent the best new music for Women’s Choir.

We are pleased to introduce you to our first of three finalists for YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, Alexander Campkin!   Here is Alexander’s Story:

Alexander Campkin

Unwatch’d

Described as ‘fresh and attractive’ by Gramophone, Alexander Campkin’s music has attracted the attentions of some of the top ensembles. His work has been performed or broadcast in over thirty countries and features on 15 CDs, one of which was Classic FM Christmas CD of the Year. Alexander has received over sixty commissions from organisations including The Royal Opera House, The London Mozart Players, The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Aldeburgh Music, The BBC Performing Arts Fund, The Swedish Arts Council, Ampersandance Contemporary Dance Company, New London Children’s Choir, The Theatinerkirche Vokalkapelle Munich, The Fulham Camerata Choir and Orchestra and Neresheim Abbey in Germany. He has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for services to music. Alexander was born in 1984 and studied at Oxford University, the Royal Academy of Music and the University for Performing Arts in Vienna.

Alexander’s Story

What is your most treasured possession?

Lever for tuning my piano.

If you could do anything else besides composing, what would it be?

Conducting.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Stravinsky.

Please join us at 6pm in the Recital Hall (upstairs) for a pre-concert talk back with our finalists and YNYC’s artistic leadership! The Q&A/Talk back is free with the purchase of your ticket! Concert will start at 7pm.

YNYC Women’s Ensemble Presents: Story Time

Saturday, April 29th | Talk back/Q&A 6pm | Concert 7pm 

St. Michael’s Church | NY, NY
Tickets: http://wynycstorytime.bpt.me

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YNYC Mixed Ensemble presents: Happiness

The following are program notes from YNYC Artistic Director Michael Kerschner for this Saturday, December 17’s YNYC Mixed Ensemble concert “Happiness.” To purchase your tickets, please visit ynychappiness.bpt.me.

ynyc-christmas2-2016-fb-square-v3

“Truly to sing, that is a different breath.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

The collective noise of 2016 has amplified the ugliest voices of our time. Beautiful sentiments have been hushed, and while the strong and brave continue to use the language of possibility, they are heard through a disagreeable filter.

I find myself marveling at the beauty of the expressed sentiments of Christmas, and I despair that they are out of reach: humility, charity, and joy are as far away from us as a distant star. It is aggravating when the symbols of the season are defended without regard for the meanings they contain.

Meaning is YNYC’s currency, and it informs our dedication to loveliness. It is the calling of our time that all voices go forth and wrap the pursuit of happiness in beauty. We are meant to journey to the star ourselves, together– to take part in the great pilgrimage.

The harmony we desire is difficult to attain when we fail to remember that it contains both dissonance and consonance. Perhaps it is the season to be in unison. When others say that the perfect unison is unattainable, we remember that this is also the season to believe. When happiness belongs to all, it dominates the sound waves. Dissonance has an instinct to resolve, and so do we.

Warmly,
Michael Kerschner
Artistic Director, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus

“Independence is happiness.” – Susan B. Anthony

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