SF Girls Chorus Blog


In this week’s Postcard, Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa writes ‘home’ from Florida

Greetings SFGC Friends from Orlando, Florida!

And no, I am not riding rollercoasters here, as tempting as that is. I am here with conductor Eric Jacobsen, who will share the stage with many of our own singers in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center in April with his Brooklyn-based orchestra, The Knights. But this weekend he is leading his “other” orchestra – yes, Eric is the conductor of two orchestras in two totally separate parts of the country! – the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

I’m here because I get to hear Eric conduct the world premiere of a new piece I wrote called “Drama/Self-Pity,” on a concert that otherwise has piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven, played by the inimitable pianist Emanuel Ax.

SFGC AD Lisa Bielawa meets Conductor and SFGC Collaborator Eric Jacobsen’s “other” orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, in rehearsal last night.

SFGC AD Lisa Bielawa meets Conductor and SFGC Collaborator Eric Jacobsen’s “other” orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, in rehearsal last night.

 

You may be wondering, “What’s a brand-new piece with a goofy title doing on a concert with two great Classical piano concertos?” It’s a good question, on the face of it – but it turns out that Eric’s new artistic leadership here (this is his second season as Music Director) is built around these kinds of mash-ups. Listen to him talk about his philosophy of artistic programming in this video the OPO made to introduce their audience to their new Director:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUKhhsvVjjA&t=34s

Which of these four ‘pillars’ of inspiration – Classics; Intimacy; Living Composers; and Heroes – do you feel most passionate about as a listener? Does his speech make you want to come hear this orchestra, and watch him conduct? Who are your “Heroes”? His invitation to bring me and my new piece there is part of the third pillar, of course, and I can feel the excitement among the entire OPO community around the fact that they are helping bring a new piece into the world. Eric’s vision of creating new works in Orlando that can go on into the world fills the community here with pride – in their orchestra but also in their city. What role does a cultural institution play in the life of a city? Is it similar to the role that a sports team plays, for example?

For my part, it’s the life of cities that gave rise to my piece, “Drama/Self-Pity,” in the first place. And I also had my own philosophy about how my piece could cohabit with Mozart and Beethoven on this concert – you can read more about that here in this fun article from Orlando Weekly. Centuries may come between these iconic composers’ music and mine, but things like humor, drama and, yes, self-pity, are timeless. Can you think of any Classical music that could bear this same title? Do you hear Self-Pity in, say, this aria of Mozart’s?

And would you say that Beethoven has a tendency to be a little Dramatic at times too? Listen to Emanuel Ax talk to this young pianist about a passage in one of Beethoven’s piano concertos that he feels is actually meant to be funny – not taken quite so seriously, “…so it sounds really weird!”

Let’s hope we make some really weird sounds together this weekend! It’s been great fun so far, and now I can’t wait to hear it all unfold.

See you all soon!

Yours,

Lisa Bielawa

Samantha Rowell Postcard

Dear SFGC Colleagues and Friends,

As Development Director for the SF Girls Chorus, I handle all of the efforts made to raise the necessary funding for us to do what we do so well. But I am also a lifelong artist, with two degrees in music and theatre, and a certificate in acting from ACT. Like many of our choristers, I grew up performing as a child – I sang, conducted choirs, and wrote a few plays with original music. These days, poetry is my primary form of artistic expression. I sometimes experience a little “writer’s block” and by happy coincidence, the SF Girls Chorus shook loose a major case of it for me recently.

Rewinding a bit…in September, I had the opportunity to fly to Istanbul, Turkey for an amazing collaborative project. I wrote some poems and composer Pieter Snapper set them to music. Peter recently won a 2016 Donizetti Classical Music Award for Best Recording (see picture), and founded various robust programs in Turkey for music composition and sound engineering. Pieter was the first person I felt truly “got” my style and tone, even my most raw, eviscerating work. When we found each other and decided to collaborate, I felt truly heard and understood.

13131674_10154020547946550_3325182550439621220_o-2

Pieter Snapper (sound design) and Emine Serdaroğlu (piano), winning a Donizetti Classical Music Award for their piano and cello album.

Creating poems to be set to music was a different way of working – I had to write FOR something, and with some basic parameters like length and tone. I was a little stuck, frankly, when I began this project. And a little intimidated. Writing for me has always been about expressing something very personal, just for myself. I often try to distill images down into their most elemental form.

Pieter asked me to express a kind of creative desperation arising from inner turmoil and conflict, in the first person. We were also writing for a particular singer – the incredible soprano Juliana Snapper, who happens to be a Girls Chorus Alumna! I couldn’t believe it! Juliana and I grew up and sang together, and she would be recording the songs that my poems would inspire!

14567338_10154526113320138_3710087381378659912_o-3

Samantha Rowell (poet) and Juliana Snapper (soprano)

I sat down to write at my computer in the morning after receiving my first directives from the composer, but felt powerless to respond. I sat staring at a blinking cursor and leaned on the space bar, creating sheaves of blank pages.

That evening, as I dreaded returning home to sit in front of a blank screen some more, I attended an open rehearsal of the Girls Chorus. The premiere ensemble sang one of the pieces they were preparing for their trip to perform for the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial. The piece, Theo Bleckmann’s “Final Answer” sounded like thousands of pecking birds…all of the voices overlapping in such richness and cacophony. It was a beautiful asynchronous conversation in song. Standing there and listening, I was suddenly struck by how similar their voices sounded to my own voice during many conversations and arguments as a child when I sang with (and sometimes disagreed with) my dear friend Juliana Snapper.

And that did it. I was free of my writer’s block. I went home after rehearsal and wrote in a frenzy – a flood of words spilling out on the page.

And it got me thinking about the creative process, and how elusive and fickle the creative impulse can be. What do you do when you are feeling as if you can’t rise to an occasion in your own life? When you are unsure that you can push ahead, and complete a project in front of you, what is your method for relaxing into the work at hand? Are there specific things that you do to get yourself unstuck? And, like I found in my collaboration with Pieter, what does it take for you to feel truly heard and understood?

Yours,

 

Samantha Rowell

An Important Message

Dear SFGC Community,

It has been a tumultuous week in the public life of our country, and as we – the staff of the SFGC – convened yesterday morning to resume our work together, we began to talk about what that work means in the bigger picture. You all are part of this work.

Our role is to inspire, by showing what heights of artistic excellence can be achieved by the very young, and to make the image and voices of young women more visible and audible in our society. We – staff, faculty, and choristers alike – share the joy of mastering a craft, of striving together for the highest level of musical expression, and sharing inspiring performances with diverse audiences. Our singers are artists first, and we are custodians of their artistry, starting from the time they walk into their first rehearsal. A happy by-product of this artistic focus is that we are igniting the ambitions and aspirations of young women within a larger community of advocates.

But this week we’ve been thinking about how our singers are also witnesses to history. They are called upon to be ambassadors of the city and sometimes of the whole country, and it is their achievement that places them in this important ambassadorial role. As a member of the SFGC in the 1980’s, Lisa sang at the Democratic National Convention at which Geraldine Ferraro was on the ticket as Walter Mondale’s running-mate; we greeted Queen Elizabeth on the pier as she stepped off the QE2; we welcomed President Mitterand to City Hall; we sang at the celebration of 300 years of German-American friendship in Krefeld, West Germany. Years later, our singers helped to usher in President Obama at the 2008 inauguration.

These experiences place our young singers in unique proximity to events on the world stage and shape their understanding. Now, as an organization we advocate for this new generation and see how SFGC’s presence in public life is a clarion call to all young women to be visible, to make their voices heard.

Our singers have the opportunity to testify to history.

Let’s celebrate and champion the important work we do together – it has never been more relevant or more fulfilling than at this moment.

We thank you for your continued support.

Best Wishes,

 

Lisa Bielawa, Artistic Director

Shelton Ensley, President, Board of Directors

SF GIRLS CHORUS PRESENTS A HIGHLANDS HOLIDAY AT DAVIES HALL DECEMBER 19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SF GIRLS CHORUS PRESENTS A HIGHLANDS HOLIDAY AT DAVIES HALL
DECEMBER 19

FEATURING NEW MUSIC FOR VOICES AND BAGPIPES BY MATTHEW WELCH PLUS SEASONAL FAVORITES, SING-ALONGS AND HUNDREDS OF COMBINED VOICES OF THE GRAMMY-WINNING CHORUS…AND CELLIST JOSHUA ROMAN!

San Francisco, CA, November 7, 2016—More than 350 voices of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus and acclaimed Chorus School will take the stage of Davies Symphony Hall Monday, December 19, at 7:30 pm for A Highlands Holiday. Curated by SF Girls Chorus Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and conducted by Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the evening will feature the world premiere of Salute on the Birth of Rory Mor for large chorus and bagpipes by Matthew Welch, James MacMillan’s New-Made for A King and Nova! Nova! Ave fix et Eva, Britten’s Missa Brevis, Kurt Erickson’s “We Three Kings” (world premiere), John Tavener’s “The Child Lived from Carnival of the Animals, and a host of holiday music by Holst, Purcell, Rutter and traditional English carols and sing-alongs bringing the community together with a joyful program that looks ahead to the 2017 summer tour to the British Isles. Tickets are priced $30-$60 and may be purchased at www.sfgirlschorus.org .

The UK has brought us some of the most beloved Christmas music of all eras, but it also boasts some of the most innovative choral composers in the present day. This is a chance for our audiences to hear the elegant heraldry of the English Baroque master Henry Purcell alongside the masterful Benjamin Britten, born a century ago, and the pioneering contemporary composer James MacMillan, whose Scottish-Irish influenced music for voices is captivating a whole new musical generation. Matthew Welch leads a rousing team of local pipers for a truly unique festive sound, and both Welch and Bay Area composer Kurt Erickson receive world premiere performances.

About Matthew Welch
The music of Matthew Tobin Welch (b.1976), Composer/Multi-instrumentalist, stems from a multi-faceted foundation. As a virtuoso of the Highland Bagpipe, he studied traditional music with Gold Medalist masters such as Colin MacLellan, Jack Lee, Angus MacLellan and Andrew Wright. Matthew also was a member of the four – time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winning with them in 1999 and 2001.

Mr. Welch holds two degrees in Music Composition, a BFA from Simon Fraser University (1999), and an MA from Wesleyan University (2001), having studied with noted composers such as Barry Truax, Rodney Sharman, Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. After locating to New York City in 2001, he has worked with a host of other artists such as John Zorn, Julia Wolfe, Zeena Parkins, and Ikue Mori. The eclectic breadth of his interests in Scottish bagpipe music, Balinese gamelan, minimalism, improvisation and rock converge in compositional amalgams ranging from traditional-like bagpipe tunes to electronic pieces, improvisation strategies and fully notated works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestra and non-western instruments. Since 2002, Mr. Welch has been running and composing for his own eclectic ensemble, Blarvuster, and he has recorded for the Tzadik, Mode, Cantaloupe, Leo, Porter, Muud, Avian, Newsonic and Parallactic record labels.

TICKETS AND INFO: $30-$60  www.sfgirlschorus.org .

MEDIA CONTACT:
Scott Horton Communications
510-735-9200
Bluescott260@hotmail.com

Announcing The 2016-17 Season

JOURNEYS EARTHLY AND DIVINE

Join us for the San Francisco Girls Chorus 2016-2017 Season!
Subscriptions and single tickets to our concerts can be purchased through City Box Office at 415-392-4400 or by visiting http://www.cityboxoffice.com/SFGC.

Coming off the groundbreaking performance at the NY PHILHARMONIC BIENNIAL at Lincoln Center in June, the San Francisco Girls Chorus presents a season that celebrates the artistic breadth of our young singers, who show audiences at every performance that young women’s voices can give utterance to the whole range of human experience.

This season, we explore the vagaries and foibles of love, the deep solemnity of spiritual devotion, the ecstasy of the natural world and the excitement of joining together with others to make joyful noise in community. We welcome new friends to share the stage with us, including rising star mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, bagpiper/composer Matthew Welch, and the esteemed Trinity Youth Chorus from Manhattan in their West Coast debut.

This season, we explore the vagaries and foibles of love, the deep solemnity of spiritual devotion, the ecstasy of the natural world and the excitement of joining together with others to make joyful noise in community. Our season looks to the British Isles and its generations of music traditions, in anticipation of our summer tour to England and Scotland. The variety of styles and musical languages that have come from this part of the world is redoubtable. A rich tapestry to explore – come join us!

Check out the full season schedule 

Welcoming The Ellerhein Girls Choir

ellerhein

Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls Choir and the San Francisco Girls Chorus during their collaboration on the Nordic tour in June 2015.

We are so proud that our young singers and Music Director Valerie have been invited to partner with a growing list of superb collaborators this past year, forging new territory for them and for the organization as a whole. Within these individual collaborations is an ever-growing awareness that the SFGC is emerging as an international leader among girls choruses from all over the world.

One of the very finest of these – among the most renowned choruses of any kind, in the world – is the Ellerhein Girls Choir from Tallinn, Estonia founded in 1951.  This group generously hosted our singers on our Nordic tour, with a respectful awareness that two very fine world-class musical ensembles were coming together and forging a new, powerful community. Among our long-term goals at the SFGC is to build an international community of girls choruses , and the arrival of Ellerhein in our community is an indication that this vision is starting to become a reality.

We would like to invite you to a special free performance of the Ellerhein Girls Choir on July 22nd at 7 PM here at the Kanbar Center and home of San Francisco Girls Chorus (44 Page Street, San Francisco) This is a special and unique opportunity since they will depart the next morning to join our girls at the Summer Music Camp in Healdsburg. Please help us show these young women that the San Francisco Bay Area is proud to have another world-class girls choir here among us! This relationship will certainly serve to create more opportunities for our own girls.

We are looking forward to seeing all of them again, and will be thrilled to be able to welcome them surrounded by the greater SFGC community, powerful advocates of this new vision for young women through artistic excellence.

We are also pleased to announce the hiring of the Interim Executive Director of SFGC, Beth Schecter, whom we will introduce at the performance.  Beth comes to us with the experience of helping many other nonprofits through leadership transitions and we are excited she is with us for the next several months. There will be a small reception after the performance so we hope you can join us for a lovely evening.

 

Lisa Bielawa                                                 Beth Schecter

Artistic Director                                          Interim Executive Director

Welcoming Interim Executive Director, Beth Schecter

beth_schecter_small

 

Dear Friends of the San Francisco Girls Chorus,

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce Beth Schecter as Interim Executive Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. We are confident Beth will provide exceptional leadership during this time of transition following the departure of Melanie Smith,who will begin a new position with San Francisco Performances next month.

Beth holds a Master of Public Health in school and community health education and a Master of Business Administration in organizational leadership. She comes to the Chorus with considerable experience specializing in executive transitions and will oversee staff operations and partner with the Board of Directors and artistic leadership on organizational planning. Beth has over 20 years of executive management experience as an executive director of four health and social service organizations in the Bay Area and her interim expertise has spanned nine health, social service and cultural organizations. Beth has served on two theater company boards and is currently a member of the Counterpulse board in San Francisco.

We are confident that Beth, working with our staff and board, will maintain consistency and excellence in Chorus operations and programs while the Executive Committee continues its search for a permanent Executive Director.

Please join me and the entire Board of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in welcoming Beth. We look forward to building upon the past year of premieres, cherished traditions,  and bold new horizons and hope you will join us for another incredible upcoming season.

Sincerely,
Shelton Ensley
President, Board of Directors, San Francisco Girls Chorus

The Story Behind the NY Phil Biennial

This week’s postcard is from Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa, who shares the story behind the NY Phil Biennial and the Chorus’ closure of the 2015-16 season. Postcards from the Chorus will resume in a few months following a summer break.


Dear SF Girls Chorus Families, Friends, and Colleagues,

Lisa Bielawa, Artistic Director, Photograph by Liz Linder

Lisa Bielawa, Artistic Director, Photograph by Liz Linder

On February 13, 2013, Valérie’s and my appointments as Music Director and Artistic Director were announced in the press. That very morning, I sent an email to select colleagues in the music field—composers, performers, venues, potential collaborators. It said, “if you are getting this email, it’s because you are a musician or artist who is special in my world. Just wanted to drop you a note with some really fun news, and a gentle invitation to let it into your imagination…I feel so lucky that it is now my job to begin exploring new partnerships from within this amazing organization. And of course—I wanted to reach out to this handful of you, before the ink is dry on this announcement, to tell you that, in my thinking about future ideas, you and your work came to mind—I hope this can be a catalyst!”

Among those I contacted were composers Philip Glass, Theo Bleckmann, and Aaron Jay Kernis, and the brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, founders and co-artistic directors of The Knights. Over the following year I kept them in the loop, sending them recordings of Valérie’s very first performances with the premier ensemble. Ideas began to percolate—how about a choral-orchestral piece by Aaron Jay Kernis, for example, for The Knights and SF Girls Chorus to premiere together? By November of that year we were already putting together program ideas. Then, in March of 2014, I got a call from Knights conductor Eric Jacobsen: the New York Philharmonic had invited them to pitch a program idea for the 2016 Biennial Festival at Lincoln Center, a city-wide festival dedicated to new music by living composers, and their VP Ed Yim loved the idea of a big program of premieres featuring orchestra and two youth choruses, SFGC and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, both with a reputation for innovation and excellence. We were on our way!

Composers Gabriel Kahane and Phillip Glass following the NY Phil Biennial Festival concert with SF Girls Chorus, The Knights, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, June 9, 2016. Photo courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

 

We began gathering new works written expressly for us last season, including those by Philip Glass and Carla Kihlstedt. We proposed these to the NY Philharmonic, they got more excited—they added a program for the choruses alone, without orchestra.

Commissions are planned way in advance, since of course we composers need time to write them! And this event included multiple commissions: each chorus commissioned one choral-orchestral work and one a cappella work (for SFGC, these were the Aaron Jay Kernis piece Remembering the Sea, reprised for our SF audiences this past Sunday with instrumental sextet), and Theo Bleckmann’s Final Answer. The choruses joined together to co-commission a work for all 80 voices, Gabriel Kahane’s Back of the Choir. And The Knights commissioned me (!!) to compose a large-scale work for Absolutely Everyone. By one year ago, all of us composers were hard at work, emailing Valérie with questions about the girls’ voices (range, balance, agility). I kept sending recordings to the other composers as Valérie’s work with the girls deepened and as our repertoire of new music grew.

February was deadline season for all of us composers. We touched base with each other on the phone—“How is it going?” “How long is your piece?” “How many parts are you using?”

Valérie and the girls began work on the pieces as the scores came in, starting as early as Summer Camp in August 2015 with some of the pieces. Theo Bleckmann visited camp to get the sound of the girls in his ears.

SF Girls Chorus and Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe at San Francisco International Airport before taking off to New York. Photograph by Elaine Robertson.

SF Girls Chorus and Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe at San Francisco International Airport before taking off to New York. Photograph by Elaine Robertson.

Then last week in New York, we all came together for what was a magical week of collaboration. Composers met singers, orchestra players met choral conductors, the choruses met each other! I attended all rehearsals and assisted while Valérie and Brooklyn Youth Chorus conductor Dianne Berkun-Menaker worked together and separately, with composers who tweaked and coached. We put hours of virtuoso music together in four days of intensive rehearsal, punctuated by the gasps of absolutely delighted composers (me included!).

Lisa Bielawa, Valerie Sainte-Agathe, SF Girls Chorus, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus rehearsing Bielawa’s My Outstretched Hand, which made its world premiere at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre June 9, 2016. Photo by Elaine Robertson.

It has been a beautiful journey, and watching the composers and our own singers move through the culminating week of this complex collaboration, three years in the making, was fulfilling beyond measure for everyone involved, including the robust and excited audience.

Hear about the entire New York trip from three choristers at each phase of the exhilarating week: Gabby writes us a Poem from NYC, Rachel shares about leading up to Lincoln Center, and Calla recounts the climax of the trip with the performance.

Aaron Jay Kernis and Valerie Sainte-Agathe in rehearsal. Photograph by Lisa Bielawa.

Aaron Jay Kernis and Valerie Sainte-Agathe in rehearsal. Photograph by Lisa Bielawa.

SF Girls Chorus in rehearsal with The Knights. Photograph by Elaine Robertson.

SF Girls Chorus in rehearsal with The Knights. Photograph by Elaine Robertson.

Aaron Jay Kernis (left). Photograph courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

Aaron Jay Kernis (left) with Eric Jacobsen (right) following the NY Phil Biennial concert. Photograph courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the words of Aaron Jay Kernis, our first-ever choral-orchestral commissionee, “The girls have an absolutely pristine sound, and their silences were complete, unified. Their performance was elegant and commanding, a total experience.”

And from Colin & Eric Jacbosen, “It was one of those rare occasions where everyone in the room enters a similar state.” I couldn’t agree more. Thank you all for supporting this ambitious and deeply meaningful adventure.

 

SF Girls Chorus in concert with The Knights and Brooklyn Youth Chorus at the NY Phil 2016 Biennial Festival. Photograph courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

SF Girls Chorus in concert with The Knights and Brooklyn Youth Chorus at the NY Phil 2016 Biennial Festival. Photograph courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

 

With this note we sign off on the Postcards season. My colleagues and I at the San Francisco Girls Chorus look forward to sending you Postcards again, next season!

Many best wishes,

Lisa

 

 

Alumnae Spotlight: Kristen Faith Oei, ‘97

Kristen_alumnaeLast week, the SF Girls Chorus traveled to my new hometown, New York City, to take the stage at Lincoln Center in a performance for the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial Festival. This opportunity was only offered to one non-New York based company – and it doesn’t surprise me that this was the SF Girls Chorus. This honor is a testament to how respected, valued, and recognized the Chorus has become through its dedication to artistic excellence.

Hearing the Chorus reminded me of how grateful I am to have grown up as a chorister. Today, I am fortunate to have a career in which I perform on Broadway, the culmination of my lifelong endeavors. As I take the stage on Broadway in The King and I, I think back to when I joined the Chorus as a shy 6-year-old. The training I received at SF Girls Chorus enabled me to perform in Fame – The Musical, Elton John’s Aida, West Side Story, We Will Rock You, Wicked, and Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark.

All of my chorus experiences led to my being in the entertainment industry, performing and living in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and now, New York.

The skills I learned through the Chorus are responsible for my success as a performing artist. Through the professional training I received and the friendships I formed, I increased my musicianship and artistry as a performer, learning how to be flexible and how to think fast according to the demands of a performance. As the dance captain in Wicked, I applied my leadership skills as I was responsible for the appearance of the show as well as for maintaining the quality of each performance. Most of all, being in the Chorus opened my heart through music and gave me joy to be in a community which shared a like-minded passion.

All that the Chorus does is made possible with contributions from all of us – from you. Please join me in making a generous gift now to the SF Girls Chorus for the spring annual fund. This will help ensure that the Chorus continues to make this amazing opportunity available to future generations of girls, and to future Broadway stars!

With sincere thanks,

Kristen Faith Oei, ‘97

Performing in NY at Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center

Dear SF Girls Chorus Family and Friends,

Our performance ensemble is now back in San Francisco, and our Chorus year is winding down to a close. I am excited to share some of my favorite moments of our recent New York trip with you.

New York was my first official SF Girls Chorus tour and it was an exciting and new experience. I got to to stay with two different host families, the first with a girl from the Trinity Wall Street Church chorus, and the second with a Brooklyn Youth Chorus board member. They were both very kind and wonderful hosts. My Brooklyn Youth Chorus host took us to the Brooklyn Promenade to see the moon over Manhattan skyline on our first night in Brooklyn. It was an enchanting experience.

Upon arriving in New York, it had taken a while to realize, “Yes, I am in New York City!” It was the same with the concert on June 9. It was really only when we started rehearsals that day that I realized, “I’m doing this. In less than six hours I will be on stage, performing at Lincoln Center!”

Rehearsing Aaron Jay Kernis' work with The Knights at the Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center

Rehearsing Aaron Jay Kernis’ work with The Knights at the Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center. Photograph by Elaine Robertson.

As we ran through all our cues for the last time, and I desperately scrambled for a place in my brain to remember them, I thought about how fortunate I was to be able to be in such an amazing group with such supportive people.

And then, we were done rehearsing. As we walked on stage, I heard the audience of almost 1400 people cheering. The three songs we sang in the first section went by in a blur. But after we performed each piece, the composers cam onstage to thank us and bow. It was wonderful seeing the people whose music we had just performed so happy because of our performance.

One piece that especially stood out to me was by Aaron Kernis, Remembering the Sea. The piece is about terrorism, and it was a very emotional piece for many people, myself included. By the third movement, which is partially in French, I was tearing up. I noted that conductor Eric Jacobsen and The Knights seemed very emotional as well. It was hard for me to believe that just one song could unite a professional orchestra and a girls choir.

SF Girls Chorus in concert with The Knights and Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center for the NY Phil Biennial Festival, June 9, 2016. Photographs courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer

SF Girls Chorus in concert with The Knights and Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center for the NY Phil Biennial Festival, June 9, 2016. Photographs courtesy New York Philharmonic, Chris Lee Photographer.

image

Two members of the SF Girls Chorus signing the performer’s wall backstage at the Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center. Photograph by Virginia Peden.

image (1)

The performer’s wall backstage at the Rose Theatre, Lincoln Center. Photograph by Virginia Peden.

At the end of the performance, after we left the stage and got high-fives from the conductors and other performers, we got to sign the special performer’s wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someday, I can’t wait to come back and show my family and friends my name and remember the exceptional performance I took part in.

Call Kra-Caskey

« Previous PageNext Page »