Brooklyn Youth Chorus Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Multimedia Project SILENT VOICES

Brooklyn Youth Chorus Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Multimedia Project SILENT VOICES

2016-17 Programming Expands the Chorus' Pioneering Role as a Powerful Lead Performer, a Bold Commissioner of New Music and a Producer of Innovative Stage Works

Season Highlights Include:

  • Silent Voices, a Multimedia, Multi-Composer Series Conceived by Brooklyn Youth Chorus Artistic Director Dianne Berkun Menaker; Commissioned by the Chorus, BAM and WQXR, New York City's Classical Radio Station; Produced and Performed by the Chorus; Featuring Music by Jeff Beal ("House of Cards"), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Alicia Hall Moran, Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin), Nico Muhly, Toshi Reagon, Caroline Shaw and Others; Writing by Hilton Als (The New Yorker) and Claudia Rankine (Citizen); Directed by Kristin Marting; Premiering at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in May 2017
  • WQXR 2016-17 Season Artists-in-Residency, Which Includes Three Live Events at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR and Live Webcasts of Silent Voices on WQXR's New-Music Channel, Q2 Music
  • Release of Brooklyn Youth Chorus' First Album, Black Mountain Songs, Featuring Commissioned Music by Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Caroline Shaw, Alexandra Vrebalov, Nico Muhly, Tim Hecker, John King and Jherek Bischoff, March 31, 2017, by New Amsterdam Records; and Album Release Event March 31, 2017, at The Greene Space at WQXR
  • Off-Broadway Run of Paola Prestini's Aging Magician, from Beth Morrison Projects, VisionIntoArt and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Performed by the Chorus, March 3-12, 2017, at the New Victory Theater

The GRAMMY Award®-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus is pleased to announce that Silent Voices, a multimedia, multi-composer stage work conceived, co-commissioned, produced and performed by the Chorus, will be the centerpiece of the Chorus' 25th anniversary season. A year-long series of performances commissioned by the Chorus, BAM and New York City's classical music station WQXR, featuring an extraordinary range of artistic collaborators, Silent Voices culminates in a world premiere at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House in May 2017. The project harnesses the power of young people to be instruments of change, giving voice to those silenced or marginalized by social, cultural or religious circumstances. The season also features several firsts for the Chorus, including the release of its first album, a WQXR Artist Residency and an Off-Broadway debut; and epitomizes the Chorus' role as a powerful lead performer, a seminal force in new music, and as a producer stretching the artistic boundaries of the youth chorus.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus' Founding Artistic Director, Dianne Berkun Menaker, conceived Silent Voices to engage the young singers artistically with the subjects and issues about which they are most passionate. The Chorus has commissioned a diverse group of innovative artists, curated by Berkun Menaker and director Kristin Marting, to interpret rich historical narratives and personal stories in creating music that explores race and identity, gender and sexuality, inequity and social disparity-music that matters.

Commissioned composers, whose contributions span multiple genres of music, include Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal ("House of Cards"), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Alicia Hall Moran, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin), Nico Muhly, Toshi Reagon, Ellen Reid, Kamala Sankaram, Caroline Shaw and Paul Miller/DJ Spooky. Claudia Rankine (Citizen) and Hilton Als (The New Yorker) are providing original writing for the work, which also includes interviews, existing works by contemporary authors (Michelle Alexander) and historical texts. Video projections by Peter Nigrini and photo portraiture by Jay Maisel will be integrated throughout. rag & bone is providing costumes. Helga Davis hosts.

Each Silent Voices choral composition will take on a specific issue: the distribution of power and privilege, gender roles and stereotyping, systemic racism, economic abandonment and sustained inequity. What unifies this musically and topically broad work is the distinctively beautiful sound of the rigorously-trained singers, a GRAMMY Award®-winning chorus of culturally and socioeconomically diverse New York City young people aged 12-18. Brooklyn Youth Chorus' predominantly female Concert Ensemble, a highly acclaimed professional-level performing ensemble, is central to the project, which also features the dynamic Men's Ensemble. The singers' varied experiences and challenges will find expression as they develop their individual voices as the foundation of their identity, while also giving voice to that of other individuals and groups.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus will partner with WQXR's Q2 Music, which will live-stream the Silent Voices concerts. In addition, Q2 Music will produce audio and video editorial features highlighting the creative process of the commissioned composers and the stories of the choristers themselves. All live coverage will be recorded for on-demand streaming at q2music.orgthroughout the season.

Silent Voices performances include:

  • National Sawdust, November 20, 2016, 3pm: Silent Voices First Look Concert #1, exploring gender, sexuality and age, with commissioned music by Ellen Reid, Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Kamala Sankaram, Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Jeff Beal. The ensemble WildUp will perform with the Chorus.
  • French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), Florence Gould Hall, as part of PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now 2017, January 14 & 15, 2017, 5pm: Silent Voices First Look Concert #2, focusing on the voices of African-American and immigrant men and women in America today, with commissioned music by Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Toshi Reagon and DJ Spooky. ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) will perform with the Chorus.
  • BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, May 12 & 13, 2017, [insert time]: BAM presents the world premiere of Silent Voices, performed by the Chorus and ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble).

Silent Voices is the most ambitious project in Brooklyn Youth Chorus' 25-year history, in which they have made a name for themselves not only as the go-to chorus for leading orchestras and popular recording artists, but as a vital commissioner of new music and a producer of unique large-scale concert works.

Black Mountain Songs Album

Silent Voices builds upon Brooklyn Youth Chorus' experience producing and performing Black Mountain Songs, a multi-media choral work featuring commissioned music by Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Pultizer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Alexandra Vrebalov, Nico Muhly, Tim Hecker, John King and Jherek Bischoff, with staging and video projections, which premiered at the 2014 BAM Next Wave Festival, winning the Festival's coveted Richard B. Fisher Prize. Reviewing the work at BAM, Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called Black Mountain Songs "exhilarating" and said "thechoral songs at the heart of this work are performed with confidence, energy and tenderness," adding, "the sheer beauty of their singing was captivating." New Amsterdam Records will release Black Mountain Songs as an album-the Chorus' first commercially available recording-on March 31, 2017.

WQXR Residency

Classical 105.9 FM WQXR, New York City's only all-classical radio station, has selected Brooklyn Youth Chorus to be the station's 2016-17 artists-in-residence, following in the footsteps of New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, The Knights and acclaimed soprano Deborah Voigt. The residency includes commissioning funds for Silent Voicesand three concerts that will take place at The Greene Space at WQXR. Each concert will be offered as a live video webcast at wqxr.org and thegreenespace.org and will be available for on-demand viewing afterwards at wqxr.org.

  • Friday, October 21, 2016, 7:30pm: the kickoff of Brooklyn Youth Chorus' WQXR artist residency, celebrating the Chorus at 25 years. The evening will feature the work of composers whose music has shaped the Chorus' artistic development and helped expand the boundaries of choral performance: Bryce Dessner, Caroline Shaw, Richard Reed Parry, Kirk Nurock and Ellis Ludwig-Leone. The Chorus will also perform preview excerpts from Silent Voice.
  • Thursday, December 8, 2016, 7:30pm: Brooklyn Youth Chorus - WQXR Holiday Concert. Brooklyn Youth Chorus shares the joy of the holiday season, performing Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols and works by Daniel Brewbaker and Joel Martin, as well as arrangements of popular carols.
  • Friday, March 31, 2017, 7:30pm: Black Mountain Songs album release celebration. Q2 Music's Helga Davis hosts.

"WQXR is excited to name the Brooklyn Youth Chorus as our next artists-in-residence for the 2016-17 season," said Mikel Ellcessor, Interim General Manager, WQXR. "The residency was created to highlight and amplify musicians' profound commitment to the art and their community, and we believe the Brooklyn Youth Chorus are a true example of this. As an ensemble, they have extended the boundaries and relevance of both choral and contemporary classical music, and as group of individuals, they have fearlessly engaged with today's most pressing conversations. They are a testament to bravery and commitment in music-making, and they share our mission to inspire audiences."

Aging Magician Off-Broadway

This season, Brooklyn Youth Chorus makes its Off-Broadway debut in Aging Magician,an epic new opera-theater work composed by Paola Prestini and produced by Beth Morrison Projects, VisionIntoArt and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, March 3-12, 2017, at the New Victory Theater. Created specifically for the Chorus and Rinde Eckert, Aging Magician tells the story of Harold, an aging clockmaker near the end of his unusual life. Creators Julian Crouch, Rinde Eckert, Paola Prestini and Mark Stewart bring together the worlds of music, theater, puppetry, instrument making and scenic design to paint a poignant allegory on time, youth and the peculiar magic of ordinary life-or, perhaps, the ordinary magic of a peculiar life.