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Brooklyn Youth Chorus Announces 20th Anniversary Season


A Brooklyn Youth Chorus student leads an unusual life, singing with Alicia Keys on Sesame Street one day, and a Mahler symphony with the New York Philharmonic the next.

From age 7-18, the choristers study at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy (BYCA), the only voice-based after-school music academy in New York City. Led by Dianne Berkun, they receive a rigorous music education, unique in its adherence to Berkun and Jeanette LoVetri's trademarked Cross-Choral TrainingTM method, which is based on applied voice science, affecting changes at a physiological level, and promoting long-term vocal health. It is this curriculum that allows BYC students to sing in a variety of styles at an exceptionally high level while both sounding authentic and remaining healthy.

One of the most sought-after children's choruses in the orchestra world, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mariinsky Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and under the batons of Valery Gergiev, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and others. In 2005 BYC won a GRAMMY® Award for the world premiere live recording of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls with the New York Philharmonic.

BYC is also the chorus of choice for such non-classical stars as Elton John, Lou Reed, Barbara Cook, John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Grizzly Bear, among many others.

Under its New Voices initiative, BYC has an increasingly active commissioning program and has so far commissioned 22 new works, including pieces by Pulitzer Prize-winners David Lang and Paul Moravec. In February 2011 BYC presented and co-produced Tell the Way at St. Ann's Warehouse, featuring new commissions by Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Sam Amidon, and Bishi. Recent seasons have seen the chorus performing in music festivals and collaborative projects such as the BAM Next Wave Festival (Kronos Quartet, Wally Cardona and Mark Morris dance companies), Ecstatic Music Festival, 21c Liederabend, and New York City Opera's tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

Continuously growing, the BYCA is at its highest enrollment ever: 360 students at its Cobble Hill headquarters and new Annex facility in Bedford-Stuyvesant, plus hundreds of other children through its growing public schools programs. The BYCA has a distinctive music electives program, offering musicianship classes and private lessons. BYCA's six progressively advanced ensembles include: the Preparatory Division (ages 7-9); Junior Chorus (ages 8-12); Intermediate Chorus (ages 9-15); Senior Chorus (ages 10-17); Young Men's Ensemble (voice change to 21); and the Concert Chorus (ages 11-18).

BYCA students reflect the city's vast economic, racial and ethnic diversity, and BYCA's scholarship program ensures access for all who wish to study.


BYC rolls out its "NEW VOICES" program, creating ambitious and innovative projects with today's most exciting artists & venues:
composers Ricky Ian Gordon, David T. Little, Sarah Kirkland Snider
indie rock icon Bryce Dessner of The National
opera star Harolyn Blackwell
Kronos Quartet
Brooklyn Philharmonic in its comeback year
experimental music mecca Roulette, newly transplanted to Brooklyn

BYC remains the go-to children's chorus for orchestras & ensembles, appearing with
New York Philharmonic • American Symphony Orchestra • Kronos Quartet
while engaging in a series of new music projects, tackling major works throughout the year by
George Crumb • Philip GlassNico Muhly • Paola Prestini

With explosive growth in enrollment, BYC opens new Music Annex in Bed-Stuy
More children than ever to receive BYC's unique Cross-Choral TrainingTM

BYC kids are everywhere, with new uniforms designed by Brooklyn-born Isaac Mizrahi,
singing on Letterman, at Lincoln Center, BAM, Park Avenue Armory, Carnegie Hall


BYC's National Anthem at 9/11 Memorial moves a nation

At 20, the BYC takes it up a notch

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC) is one of the country's leading children's choruses, the ensemble of choice for orchestras and artists such as the New York Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony, composers Philip Glass and John Adams, and rock stars such as Elton John, Lou Reed, and Grizzly Bear. Since Dianne Berkun founded the group in 1992, the BYC has grown from a small children's chorus to an innovative and dynamic music organization housed in its own building in Downtown Brooklyn.

In this 20th year, the BYC picks up the pace with more ambitious collaborative projects and commissions than ever before. With its New Voices program, composers and adventurous venues have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the BYC on large-scale projects that go beyond the scope of the average choral commission.

This season will see the BYC developing new music with Bryce Dessner of The National, a concert reuniting them with renowned soprano Harolyn Blackwell with a BYC commission from Ricky Ian Gordon, tributes to Philip Glass, and integral co-presentations with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in their triumphant return.

The BYC is also expanding, with a new Music Annex in Bed-Stuy, designed to increase access to BYC's singular Cross-Choral TrainingTM method.

"The pure angelic sound is second nature to us, but so is the earthy texture of folk music and spirituals, and the edgier timbres of rock. Our unique training curriculum lets us excel in all genres, enabling us to work with this amazing variety of musicians," says Berkun.

"We are delighted to celebrate this benchmark season with an exciting calendar that is emblematic of BYC's strength, diversity and commitment to breaking the traditional youth chorus mold," says Valerie Lewis, BYC's executive director. "We look forward to celebrating this season with our choristers and arts partners."

2011-12 Events

September 10
FDNY 10th Anniversary Memorial Service, St. Patrick's Cathedral
The BYC sang in this memorial service honoring the 343 FDNY firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11.

September 11 - Internationally Televised
City of NY's 10th Anniversary 9/11 Commemoration at World Trade Center site.
Click here for related press.

September 21-24
BAM Next Wave Festival with Kronos Quartet
The BYC joined the world-renowned Kronos Quartet to open the BAM Next Wave Festival 2011 with Awakening, a musical meditation on the anniversary of 9/11. The New York Times praised the BYC's performance: "The quartet was joined by the warm-toned, wonderfully unified Brooklyn Youth Chorus."

October 6
Park Avenue Armory Gala Honoring Philip Glass
The BYC performs with Nico Muhly at the Park Avenue Armory Gala, which honors composer Philip Glass during his 75th birthday year. Glass and the BYC have a long history together: the chorus sang on the 2004 soundtrack for the film, Undertow, performed the 2000 North American premiere of Glass's Symphony No. 5 with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Dennis Russell Davies, and the 2008 performance of Powaqqatsi with Glass and his ensemble at Prospect Park's Celebrate Brooklyn Festival. See also the February 26 date on this calendar.

October 12
New Sounds Live with Brooklyn Philharmonic
World Financial Center, Winter Garden
The BYC presents a preview of the March 24 & 25 concerts with the Brooklyn Philharmonic for New Sounds Live at the World Financial Center Winter Garden, hosted by WNYC's John Schaefer. They perform an excerpt of their commission from David T. Little entitled Am I Born, inspired by Francis Guy's evocative 1820 painting "Winter Scene in Brooklyn," currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum. The BYC also performs a song in the great 19th century American tradition of shape note singing.

October 24
New York Public Radio Gala
583 Park Avenue
Along with world-renowned pianist Lang Lang, the BYC leads an exclusive gala for WNYC and WQXR.

November 21
Cosmopolitan Club
The BYC's Concert Chorus and Young Men's Ensemble will be featured in a private event at the beautiful Cosmopolitan Club on the Upper East Side.

December 11
ASPCA Blessing of the Animals
The ASPCA hosts a pet-friendly public event at Christ Church, featuring music by the BYC.

December 15
Winter Garden Holiday Concert with Harolyn Blackwell
World Financial Center, Winter Garden
BYC joins Metropolitan Opera soprano Harolyn Blackwell for a very special free holiday performance at the Winter Garden. This performance will include an evening of custom arrangements of holiday tunes by Joel Martin, and a world premiere work for chorus and soprano from composer Ricky Ian Gordon, commissioned by the BYC for this occasion.

January 28
Workshop in Cross-Choral TrainingTM
Dianne Berkun and Jeanette LoVetri lead their annual workshop on the BYC's unique and patented Cross-Choral TrainingTM method at the BYC Academy at 179 Pacific Street.

February 26
Tune-In Festival with Philip Glass
Park Avenue Armory
The 2012 Tune-In Festival at the Park Avenue Armory-a major new music festival bringing together some of the biggest names in music today-will feature the BYC with Philip Glass in the long-anticipated New York premiere of his Another Look at Harmony.

March 24 & 25
Brooklyn Village: BYC & Brooklyn Philharmonic at the new Roulette Theater
Roulette, Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brooklyn Philharmonic and the new Roulette Theater deliver an homage to their home borough called Brooklyn Village. This dynamic program is a multidisciplinary presentation that offers a whimsical retelling of Brooklyn history in music, text and image, from its early days to a vibrant future. The project will feature two newly commissioned works by composer David T. Little and Sarah Kirkland Snider, inspired by a painting set in 1820 Brooklyn, texts by Walt Whitman and Hart Crane, and carefully selected music with Brooklyn connections from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

April 19
Star-Child with American Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall
The BYC comes to Carnegie Hall to perform alongside the American Symphony Orchestra in a presentation of the inimitable George Crumb's gorgeous Grammy® Award-winning Star-Child.

May 3-5
Bryce Dessner's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival
Brooklyn Academy Of Music
BYC sings a major new work written for them by indie-rock star Bryce Dessner on his Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival at BAM. Here is a video of Dessner and the BYC's collaboration last season, part of Nico Muhly's Tell the Way.

May 9
BYCA Annual Gala
The annual BYCA gala at Liberty Warehouse, Pier 41, Red Hook, Brooklyn.

May 18 & 19
Soundscapes at Roulette
BYCA presents its annual spring concert series at Roulette Theater, featuring all six of its performing choruses plus guest artists.

May 31-June 2
NY Philharmonic presents Carmina Burana
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
BYC performs with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall under Maestro Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos in Carl Orff's celebrated Carmina Burana.

June 26
Paola Prestini
World Financial Center, Winter Garden.
The BYC will perform Paola Prestini's stirring Oceanic Verses, a series of tableaux, each of which depicts a different cultural ritual from small towns on the Adriatic shore.

"Among New York's choral groups, BYC stands alone." - New York Magazine


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