Michael Kerschner / Artistic Director

YNYC Blog

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.

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“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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Sensation

Considered broadly, culture provides evidence that history repeats itself. The wisdom of past generations fade from view and our memory of them lose vitality. The long-term memory of humanity resonates in the things that have been have created. The desires, hardships, calamities, and joys of our ancestors ring in the foundations of the Roman Forum, the cave paintings of Lascaux, the Statue of Liberty, to name just a few. We can think of cultural history as a pendulum that sways from classicism to romanticism. The pendulum freezes on extremes for just a moment. All other times we are gliding through ratios of creative ingenuity and creative contemplation. What is most fascinating is the space in between – the times in history where culture reflects a tipping point. During the era we now call classical (1750-1820), drastic developments in industry, philosophy, and art seemed to reach a boiling point, at which time we see the gradual embrace of a completely different set of values. The romantic era (1800-1850) was a reaction, a rebuttal, a revolution.

The concept of our season, Sensation, is inspired by the first chord of the choral section of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; the schreckensfanfare, or horror fanfare. These are uncertain times. The long American election has been an addition to our personal anxieties, in addition to an unsettled world, in addition to an endangered climate, in addition, in addition. One wonders what solace can be found in choral music. We may revisit some remedies that were embraced in the age of Beethoven and Schiller. Beethoven offers a rebuttal to his own vision of horror with the main theme of the 4th movement, the Ode to Joy. It is daringly folksy, and its brilliance is demonstrated by its ubiquitousness. You may have sung the theme from your church hymnal, and it is the anthem of the European Union. It lives in the minds of millions and millions of people, the whole world over. If you wished to stop the world, and have every person on earth sing a tune in unison, this would be the best choice.

What shall our theme be, after the horror fanfare? Dare we aspire to a song of joy that we could all sing in unison? Can we dream that it will be knowable by all people of the earth? Our concerts this season will not be a mirror to our times, but rather a kaleidoscope through which we can see beautiful possibilities.

These are the consolations of Romanticism. The consolations of nature, awe, spirit, beauty:

Hope, Christmas with YNYC Women’s Ensemble
Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 7:30
Church of St. John Nepomuncene

Happiness, Christmas with YNYC Mixed Ensemble
Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 8:00
Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The consolations of imagination, aesthetic experience, the sublime:

American Gothic, YNYC Mixed Ensemble
Saturday March 25, 2017 at 7:00
Irondale Ensemble Project, Brooklyn
YNYC will present an immersive and highly stylized performance dedicated to the poetry Edgar Allan Poe. Tarik O’Regan’s 2006 masterwork, The Ecstasies Above, will be bookended by two loop-based choral improvisations, involving the audience in a meditation on Poe’s sublime and melancholic texts.

The consolations of folk art, ancient custom, heroism, genius:

Story Time, YNYC Women’s Ensemble and Chamber Singers
Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 7:00
St. Michael’s Church
This dramatic performance will feature stories of humor, fantasy, loss, memory, and fantasy, told by Opera Choruses, Madrigals and Folk Ballads. This concert will feature YNYC’s Competition for Young Composers, this year representing the best new music for Women’s Choirs.

The consolations of originality, artists’ voice, emotion:

Newest Wave, YNYC Mixed Ensemble
Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 7:00
St. John Nepomucene
YNYC’s full range of atmospheric vocals will be on display as a battery of young composers arranges songs by Avant Pop musicians: Sufjan Stevens, Prince, Kate Bush, David Bowie, and others. These will be paired with complementary selection of choral music from the standard repertoire for a unique concert experience.

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YNYC “Multitudes” Program Notes

The following are program notes from YNYC Artistic Director Michael Kerschner for this Saturday, June 4’s YNYC Mixed Ensemble concert “Multitudes.” To purchase your tickets, please visit ynycmultitudes.bpt.me.

This is YNYC’s 15th anniversary concert, and we are thrilled to mark this occasion with performances of three World Premieres and the Mozart Requiem! It is a humbling and important thing to connect the traditional to the modern. We all have a desire to express ourselves with our voices, in harmony with the world. This is what the composers have done with their new works tonight. In doing so, they connect to an ancient line, the same line that Mozart contributed to in his life. YNYC has always been rooted in the past- and with eyes peering into the future, we connect the dots.

The Mozart Requiem ranks among the most remarkable achievements of creative and spiritual endeavor. It is a stately and elegant work, written in the final year in the life of a genius. The truth is likely not as scandalous as the play and film Amadeus suggest, but we know one thing for sure; this monolithic masterwork of the Western Classical tradition is shrouded in mystery. The most haunting questions that remain about the Requiem are asked in silence and will never be answered. What would this work have been like if Mozart had finished it himself? If Mozart had lived, and the Requiem was a launching point instead of an ending, how might that have changed music as we know it today? YNYC has commissioned over 40 young composers (through our competition and otherwise), and we are proud to play our part in shaping the future sound of vocal expression. To do so with the choral art form that we all love, in this inspiring city, is a blessing for which we are grateful. YNYC is a little space for beauty and friendship, and we are happy to connect with you as we bring music, and ourselves, to life.

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YNYC Mixed Ensemble presents: Multitudes

The final concert of YNYC’s 15th anniversary season, Multitudes features the finalists in the annual Competition for Young Composers: Connor James Koppin, Dale Trumbore, and Matthew Recio. The evening will culminate in a special performance of Mozart’s Requiem in partnership with YNYC alumni and the esteemed New York Repertory Orchestra. We hope you will join us for this special evening!

YNYC presents: Multitudes
Saturday, June 4 | 7 PM
Saint Peter’s Church | 619 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
Tickets: $15 in advance online, $20 at the door

Click here to purchase your tickets online now!

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YNYC Women’s Ensemble presents: Ties That Bind

The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means “family.” Its connotation suggests an unbreakable bond between people who have made a decision to become a part of each others story; in a larger sense their destiny. It implies the deepest connection of friendship.

In their upcoming May 15 cabaret performance Ties That Bind, the Women’s Ensemble of YNYC will explore this complicated thing called friendship; what makes it both meaningful and hard and why ultimately we think its a wonderful gift.

Featuring a variety of styles and genres including jazz, pop, alternative, and musical theater. Performances include: “Trashin the Camp” from Tarzan, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Count on Me,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and more!

Tickets are available online here. We hope you’ll join us for this incredible night!

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Calling all YNYC alumni! Sing with us on June 4

This is a special message for all YNYC alumni. In honor of our 15th anniversary, we hope you’ll consider singing with us and catching up with the ensemble!

Dear YNYC alumni,

Hello from the current ensemble! This year marks YNYC’s 15th anniversary, and we’ve called this season Connections. We’d like to invite you to connect back with your YNYC family for our final concert of the season on June 4. Whether you sang with us for one season or ten, you are a part of our incredible story. This spring, come connect with us to celebrate this special time!

Sing with us

Full orchestra, 80 voices – are you excited yet? We are thrilled to invite all alumni to sing Mozart’s Requiem with us on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at St. Peter’s Church in midtown. We have scheduled three rehearsals for alums to join: Tuesdays @ 7:30 pm on 4/19 and 5/17, and the dress rehearsal on 5/31 with the New York Repertory Orchestra. Please get in touch if you’re interested, even if you can’t attend all rehearsals.

Connect with us

On Saturday, March 12th, our concert Orbital Family celebrated the growth of our own YNYC family, as all three ensembles performed together for the first time. Wait, what? You didn’t know that YNYC was now three groups – mixed, women’s, and chamber ensembles? Well, now you know! Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our quickly growing group.

Stay [in] tune[d], and stay involved. We hope that you’ll enjoy reconnecting with YNYC this season and beyond! Please email nick@ynyc.org with any questions or to let us know that you’d like to join in the fun. We’ve also got plans in the works for a special alumni event surrounding the concert…you won’t want to miss it.

See you in June!

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YNYC presents: Orbital Family

On Saturday, March 12, all three YNYC ensembles (women’s, mixed, and chamber) will join together for “Orbital Family.” Below are program notes from YNYC Artistic Director Michael Kerschner on the concert.

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There is a time of day when the horizon is lit by zodiacal light; the glow of stardust known as false dawn. Not day or night, earth or sky. Neither real nor imaginary, it is a time before the dawn when our dreams turn to flying.

It is YNYC’s 15th anniversary season, and it has been a time of looking back. Our story starts with an idea that young professionals in New York City would crave the deep connection they felt when they have sung in choir. Singers of considerable talent have been flocking to our auditions ever since, not to be featured soloists, but to be part of the machine of harmony.

Most of the time we are an old-fashioned organization that presents choral works in the most beautiful rooms in NYC. We also have a reputation for flexibility and generosity in the realm of new music collaborations. Our biggest risks have all been star-related. From Marco Brambilla’s “Creation,” Ander Mikalson and Caroline Shaw’s “Score for the Big Bang,” and commissioning Shara Worden’s “The Pleiades.” It wasn’t intentional, but serendipity must be at play. My first season with YNYC was 10 years ago, and the final concert was called Dreamers Awake. We performed “Leonardo” at that concert, and it was like a declaration of purpose. Our dreams have served our need to connect through harmony, and it has brought to life new music by composers who are making crucial and influential music.

Orbital Family is a celebration of the YNYC family, and our theme returns to the night sky, the original silver screen upon which stories danced. Our repertoire contains some of these stories. Eric Whitacre’s music, coupled with Charles Anthony Silvesti’s libretto, tells the story of Leonardo’s imaginings in the style of a 16th century madrigal with word painting, chains of suspensions, and plenty of melodrama. The final third of the piece is a minimalistic flying scene. You’ll feel the wind in your hair, and the sweet serenity of floating above Tuscany. Shara Worden uses a similar musical language to touch on both the science and mythology of a fabled constellation. More than anything, it is a touching story about brotherhood and sisterhood. The beautiful “Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda” are in honor of Vena, the personification of a celestial being: a rainbow, the marriage of water and light, the domain of the zodiacal light. Our final piece, Steven Sametz’s “in time of,” brings all of the YNYC family together. The Cummings poem is a beautiful response to the inquiry of the sphinx, telling the story of our lifespan through the desires of flowers, who remind us that the aim of waking is to dream

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YNYC Mixed Ensemble presents: The Triumph of the Sky

On Friday December 4, the YNYC Mixed Ensemble presented their holiday concert: The Triumph of the Sky. Here are the performance’s program notes from Michael Kerschner, Artistic Director.

“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.”
― William Wordsworth

Many thoughts loom large as we ponder the inaugural concert of YNYC’s Season of Connection. We are excited to share with you, in our 15th anniversary season, what connection looks like in our world; an artistic community that seeks to unite young people in the shared effort of seeing into the life of things through the language of song.

Our modern days are frenetically shaped by morning outrages and controversies that fade by nightfall. Empathy, free from politicization, accumulates. It remains a part of us. Beauty and truth linger in a similar way. Sure, our attentions may waver- there are just so many preposterous things to read about and comment on. The things which connect us are the things that are somehow too true to be impacted by the opines of popular culture. We are connected when empathy directs us toward all people, and when we subscribe to ideals that contribute to a world capable of continuous beautification. We are connected when we remember that everyone has a story. And, we are connected by the stories that we all know.

Portrayed in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, our image of the Nativity has been nuanced by centuries of poetry, art, literature, music, and films. Celebrating among families and neighbors, the narrative is rounded out with the inclusion of our experiences. The majority of our repertoire this Christmas season comes from medieval poetry, set to music by contemporary composers. The implications of this sweep of time is stunning; the familiar story can be told in the sonic language of today. The humanity of the Nativity remains the same as it was the first day of its telling. There will be no walls around the manger. No religious test will divide the witnesses. Complicated outcasts can join in among the angels and shepherds, the cows and the sheep. You’ll find your way by looking toward the democratizing sky. The star shows us where to find the miracle of goodwill and peace. The star, visible to all, connects us. This is the triumph of the skies.

We hope you’ll join us again as we celebrate the season with the YNYC Women’s Ensemble on Saturday, December 12 for Christmas Nocturnes. Tickets and additional information are available here: wynycchristmasnocturnes.bpt.me

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Welcome to YNYC’s 15th Season!

Introducing the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus 2015/16 Season:

CONNECTIONS

Celebrating 15 years of exceptionally sung, dramatically presented performances with the Mixed, Women’s, and Chamber Ensembles
Coupling [Saturday, October 24th 2015]
The Women’s Ensemble participates in YNYC’s third collaboration with Ensemble 212 to perform Mahler’s enchanting 3rd Symphony.
The Triumph of the Sky [Saturday, December 5th 2015]
Savor in the sounds and sights of Christmas with YNYC as the Mixed Ensemble performs audience and singer favorites from the past 15 years. Featured composers include Whitacre, Shank, Lauridsen, Hogan, Pärt, Tavener, Essenvalds, as well as carols arranged by our favorite young composers.
Christmas Nocturns [Saturday, December 12th 2015]
Connect with the Women’s Ensemble for a meditative and inviting evening of carols, sung in the warm glow of candlelight.
Orbital Family [March 2016]
YNYC’s three ensembles combine for one magical evening of choral music, including the inaugural performance on the Chamber Singers.
Chamber Singers — The Pleiades, Shara Worden
Women’s Ensemble — Vier Gesang OP. 17, Johannes Brahms
Mixed Ensemble — Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine, Eric Whitacre
Ties That Bind [April 2016]
Join the Women’s Ensemble in a fun, theatrical, and poignant cabaret about friendship with a variety of singing style and genres including jazz, pop, alternative, and musical theater.
Multitudes [May/June 2016]
YNYC Alumni join the ensembles for a performance of the Mozart Requiem. This concert will also feature three new works written for our Mixed Ensemble as part of the Competition for Young Composers.

We have been honored to connect you to passionately performed choral music and exciting new compositions for the last 15 years. Please help us make the next 15 possible by giving to the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus today.

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“I Am…” and “Love Is…”: YNYC Wraps Up 2014/15 Concert Season

The following are program notes from YNYC’s final concerts of the season: “I Am…” (women’s chorus, Sunday May 31) and “Love Is…” (mixed ensemble, Saturday June 6). We hope you’ll join us for this Saturday’s concert (June 6 at 7 PM, 40 E 35th St) to enjoy beautiful music and hear our finalists in the Competition for Young Composers! Tickets are available here: ynycloveis.brownpapertickets.com.

“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…” from The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough

YNYC’s final two concerts (I am, WYNYC May 29, and Love Is, YNYC June 6) illustrate our shared journey to interpret the sublime through culture. Presently impaled by the post-modern thorn tree, we are trapped in the rigidity of thumbs-up/down aesthetics. We are timid in the presence of pain because we have politicized empathy. We’ve assumed a hipster-stance, distant and detached, eyes rolling over earnestness like Tonka Toys.™

We are overdue for a pendulum swing back to Romanticism. Let’s shake it up. Let’s dance about pleasure, march about injustice, and fly about love. Let’s open our eyes to the lessons of the natural world and remember to read the poetry of forgotten people. We all stand before the sublime with awe. We revel in the aliveness we feel as we fall in love. The broken-hearted collapse, and then rebuild, and then repeat the journey again a little more wise than before. If, as Stew suggests, “there is a melody for every malady,” then there is a song for every broken heart, injustice, and inequity. The songs are expressions of emotions to which all humans can relate. It may be the calling of our time; to sing one superlative song in a great, unison chorus.

— Michael Kerschner, Artistic Director, the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus

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