By Rich Bockmann
The boys and girls of a northeast Queens choir provided a stately welcome last week when they performed the South Korean and American national anthems during a ceremony honoring South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
The youngsters of The Korean Channel Boys and Girls Choir, which is affiliated with the College Point television station The Korean Channel, come from all over northeast Queens and western Nassau County and travel to Great Neck, L.I., once a week where they practice traditional songs.
A total of 28 children, ranging from the second- to the seventh-grades, made the trip to Manhattan Sept. 20 where they sang “Aeguka” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s presentation of the 2011 World Statesman Award to Lee.
The president was honored for his leadership in furthering democracy, freedom, peace and human rights.
Conductor Edward Yang said he was honored the choir was asked to perform at the ceremony and believed it was a great experience for the young members.
“Maybe it will be very good momentum for the children,” he said, adding that Lee is an admirable role model. “Some of our members will get a vision or dream to be president.”
Emily and Andy Ham, sister and brother from Fresh Meadows, both said they made an effort to learn about Lee and his accomplishments after they learned they would be a part of the ceremony.
“I felt very grateful to be chosen and to get the chance to sing in front of a lot of people,” said 12-year old Emily. “I saw some things on the news about [Lee]. He is a really good president and people really like him.”
Yang said the choir’s next big performance will be its annual holiday concert, which will be broadcast by the television station on Channels 76 and 531 for Time Warner customers and Cablevision Channels 118 and 950.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965, and since then it has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders promotes peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution.
“President Lee has dedicated himself to world peace and democracy and building bridges worldwide through economic and trade ties, concern for the environment, and respect for different cultures and civilizations,” Schneier said.
Prior to being elected president in 2007, Lee had been the mayor of the capital Seoul, where he restored a stream in the center of the city that was hidden under concrete for decades. The restoration has been hailed as a model for big city ecological restoration.
Past recipients of the World Statesman Award include British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.