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Photos by Stephanie Berger
Photos by Stephanie Berger
The Young People's Chorus gathers outside of the Apollo Theater on May 15.

Young performers from schools in Ozone Park and Jamaica Estates took the stage at one of the world’s most legendary venues earlier this month.

Talented students from P.S. 64 and P.S./I.S. 178 were among the 1,000 New York City students who put on a musical showcase at the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem on May 15. All of the children involved in the performance are part of the School Choruses program offered by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC).

Titled “The Tales We Tell,” the dynamic performance celebrated diversity and the many vibrant cultures found in New York City, YPC’s Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez said. Children used their voices to tell musical stories from countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean with professional lighting, costume and instrumental accompaniment backing them up.

Students from P.S. 64 performed a Gospel spiritual as well as “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and “When I Grow Up” from Matilda under the direction of conductor Sonny Willis. Students from P.S./I.S. 178 performed a Swedish folk song and a contemporary piece by Randall Thompson under the direction of Caitlin Dobmeier.

Elizabeth Nunez

Elizabeth Nunez

“They are amazing and we’re so lucky to be partnering with them,” Núñez said. “Our whole team are fantastic musicians, and they just love the students so much. They want them to succeed, and you can see it when they get on stage together.”

Student performances were interspersed with dance, acting and spoken word presentations by The Classical Theatre of Harlem and Elisa Monte Dance.

Young People's Chorus

Núñez said she hopes the experience taught students the great payoff of hard work and dedication.

“They’re surrounding by professionalism, and taught that if you work towards your goals, you can achieve them,” she continued.

Elizabeth Mitchell, principal of P.S. 64, said she was extremely proud of her students for taking the stage.

“I see it as a memory that will have more value to them as they get older and they come to the realization that not all children were granted this opportunity in life,” Mitchell said. “Without YPC, this opportunity would not have been possible for so many children.”

The Young People's Chorus performs Satellite Concert series with kids from public Schools throughout NYC at the Apollo Theater on May 15, 2017, hosted by Elizabeth Nunez. Credit: Stephanie Berger

Most profoundly, the principal continued, the program has endowed a sense of inclusiveness and perseverance in the young performers.

“YPC allows [the students] to transcend their cultural background, their economic status and their academic levels,” Mitchell said. “In YPC, they are not seen as English Language Learners or students with disabilities — they are simply a group with voices united to make beautiful music as they explore musical genres that promote diversity.”

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City was founded in 1988 on a mission of diversity and artistic excellence. Each year, 1,600 children participate in the organization’s after-school, in-school and community programs. To learn more, visit their website.

The Young People's Chorus performs Satellite Concert series with kids from public Schools throughout NYC at the Apollo Theater on May 15, 2017, hosted by Elizabeth Nunez. Credit: Stephanie Berger

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