Queens kids prepare for exciting performance at famed Apollo Theater

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Photo courtesy of Sonny Willis

Students from schools in Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park are getting ready for a big performance at one of the country’s most historic venues.

Over 100 kids from P.S. 178, P.S. 90 and P.S. 64 will take the stage at The Apollo Theater on May 17 as part of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s (YPC) annual showcase. The students will join young learners from 18 schools throughout five boroughs.

The Queens kids have been working since October in preparation for the performance, according to YPC School Choruses program coordinator Sonny Willis. The conductor worked with students at P.S. 178 and 64 after school and during the school day and taught them how to read and write music, perform with healthy vocal techniques and collaborate with their peers.

“There’s a really great level of excitement [among students],” Willis said. “For many of them, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on such a legendary stage.”

Willis conducts at last year's event (Photo by Stephanie Berger)
Willis conducts at last year’s event (Photo by Stephanie Berger)

Titled “Red Light, Green Light,” the concert program explores the sounds of growing up in New York City. Students will perform a mashup of playground chants, rhymes and multicultural pop culture songs while incorporating choreography work.

“We wanted to feature pieces that reflect the diversity of New York City,” Willis said. “We’ve really added a lot of movement this year, and that’s really enhanced the program.”

During practices and in-school performances leading up to the showcase, students are treated “not as kids, but as artists,” Willis noted. Kids are taught about posture, breathing techniques, how to navigate a score and other musical concepts.

“There’s a really special connection with the music and how it’s relevant for them,” he continued. “They can learn about so many different aspects of our society and culture through music and learn about themselves and how to contribute to a larger group.”

PS 178 rehearses
PS 178 rehearses

Tickets to the performance, which begins at 10:45 a.m., are $15 each and available via the Apollo Theater Box Office or online via Ticketmaster.

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City was founded in 1988 and offers over 1,700 children access to after-school, in-school and community programs.