It is the beginning of 2014, and we are starting the second half of our season. We get so busy during the year that we rarely have time for a proper reflection of our most recent past. For this month’s blog, I’d like to take a stroll down memory lane and list some of the many triumphs from our 2012-2013 season.
The 2013-14 Young New Yorkers’ Chorus season featured six world premiere performances, four of which were YNYC commissions. New work is almost always adventurous; our ensemble faces the unknown of new work as a matter of our identity. YNYC has become the go-to ensemble for adventurous collaborations in New York City, and in addition to an already ambitious concert season, YNYC participated in two significant world premieres. First was Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s arrangement of a piece titled Big Bang, a conceptual sound sculpture conceived by artist Ander Mikalson, which YNYC performed at the Gala for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Art and Sculpture. Second was a performance of a new work by Christopher Cerrone for the occasion of the East Coast premiere of Marco Brambilla’s film, Creation 3D. This piece was composed to stand alone as an A Cappella choral work, and/or be performed over Prokofiev’s Cinderella’s Waltz. This was a three hour performance in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral with the singers surrounding the audience (wearing 3D glasses), with an enormous screen projecting the film. This was a wildly effective endeavor, and an opportunity to perform for a new audience that included luminaries of the visual art and popular music sphere.
The season was themed the Season of Women. The fall of 2012 was a politically charged time in which women became a part of the election narrative, and it was an emotional experience using new and exploratory works to provide a fresh context for this dialogue. YNYC utilized the concert season to explore three aspects of being a woman: motherhood, guardians of beauty, and warriors for justice. We performed prominent and emerging women composers such as Joan Szymko, Meredith Monk, Caroline Shaw, Carol Barnett, and Cecilia McDowall. Three composers: Jocelyn Hagen, Joshua Fishbein, and Colin Britt, were commissioned as part of our 9th Competition for Young Composers, and each of their works addressed the Season of Women with poignant texts and colorful harmonic language.
Our largest commission to date, the 5 movement, 20 minute work The Pleiades was composed by Shara Worden. Shara’s text was inspired by the colorful mythologies behind the constellation, and the architecture of the music was inspired by a large circular sculpture in Texas. Shara Worden, international indie rock musician, has composed music for a variety of classical ensembles. Her intoxicating vocal performances at the Ecstatic Music Festival in NYC inspired our commission. The piece was an affecting prelude to our performance of David Lang’s choral version of his Pulitzer Prize winning The Little Match Girl Passion.
YNYC’s 2012-2013 season was one that pushed the boundaries of what the voice can do, extended the arena in which choral music could be experienced, and expanded our efforts to communicate essential ideas to a world hungry for the benevolent wisdom of the choral art. We can’t wait to offer you all that and more in 2014.