Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Week That Changed My Life

My first experience with YPC Erie was the first annual summer camp in 2009. It is literally the week that changed my life. From the welcoming gestures and professionalism of the staff to the
love of singing that the choristers displayed, I knew that I had found my musical home. Seeing and hearing everyone making great music and having a blast while doing it was inspiring! I knew from that week what an incredible organization YPC Erie was becoming.

Fast forward to the second annual summer camp “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”… The excitement of being at the camp was evident not only in how quickly everyone learned and memorized all the songs, lyrics AND movements, but also through the dedication of the campers and staff to create a COMMUNITY of singers. The camp learned of Dr. Bishop’s vision for a group of people who respected and cared for each other regardless of their differences. As a professional youth choral organization that vision continues to be at the heart of who YPC Erie is.

Why should you come to the third annual YPC Erie choir camp? That’s easy. Because you will learn about music and singing, make new friends, perform, be inspired, be motivated and be challenged. Nonetheless, who doesn’t like singing TV show theme songs?! Let it be the week that
changes your life!

Mr. Patrick Rose, Accompanist for YPC Erie Young Men's Chorus

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tell Your Friends!

Choir Camp is just around the corner and I hope you are as excited about it as I am! I’ve been hard at work finding music and making the schedule for the day campers. Let me tell you – this is one week you won’t want to miss! If you are participating in camp as a day camper, each day will represent a different TV channel. All the activities will represent the theme for the day, and we will be creating our very own television channel and composing original theme music for it! It is going to be an awesome week full of music making, new friends, and lots of fun! So make sure you get your registration form in by July 8 and tell your friends too! See you in August!

Ms. Caitlin Henning, YPC Erie Assistant Conductor & Director of Education

The Highlight of the Summer

It is hard to believe our third annual choir camp is almost here! I love the excitement around choir camp: meeting new people, performing new music, and seeing current YPC Erie choristers after a long month of July without any rehearsals. Choir camp planning is part of the fun and I love seeing how the schedule of daily events, performances, and music programming begin to take shape. Camp is a different experience from one year to the next, but is always memorable and is for many the highlight of the summer. Not only is camp an opportunity for the YPC Erie staff to share our knowledge with campers, but for campers to share knowledge with each other AND with staff. It always amazes me how easily non-members and current YPC Erie members come together for the week, bonding through singing music together as well as participating in different activities and experiences together. We learn so much from our campers every year and I look forward to another great YPC Erie choir camp!

Remember to get those registration forms in by July 8!

Dr. Sarah Kahl, YPC Erie Chief of Staff

Monday, June 27, 2011

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

After only two years of hosting our Choir Camp, I feel myself looking forward to it each year now like a kid waiting for Christmas. It's such a unique opportunity - to come together for an entire week, our permanent choristers together with visiting non-members, to share in the experience of making great music and building community. Every year, new campers seem to come with excitement but also a little anxiety, and every year they leave feeling as if their lives have been changed for the better. But one thing they may not realize is that they change us, too. The staff, those people who work tirelessly to make camp the best experience it can be, who spend weeks poring over every detail and planning meticulously for a fun, smooth and productive week, who are the ones expected to show up and impart their knowledge and experience to a hundred young singers who are eager to learn about music and polish their skills: yes, the staff learn from the choristers. We learn how to renew our passion for what we do, how to nurture our friendships, how to stay playful and enjoy life, and how to be an inspiration to others. I look forward to Choir Camp every year not only to inspire, but to be inspired; not only to teach, but to learn.

Last year's campers absolutely blew me away with what they were able to accomplish not just in a week, but in a day! Our theme was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and we learned music from several different mountain regions around the world along with extensive choreography for our performances throughout the week. Although I had not planned to do the full program until the end of the week at our Gala fundraiser, our singers were not only performing the full program by day 3, but performing it from memory, and completely choreographed! Although some were nervous about the moves in particular, and others were simply exhausted because it was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, I was still so impressed with how much the campers clearly loved the music and were willing to rise above the obstacles in their pursuit of excellence. (By the way, on the subject of heat exhaustion, did I mention we will be staying in an air-conditioned dorm this summer?)

The week of August 8-13, we will host the 3rd Annual Summer Choir Camp on the beautiful campus of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Although embracing challenge is a part of the YPC Erie identity, we tend to choose a slightly lighthearted theme every year to give ourselves a break from the heavier repertoire we learn during the rest of the year. This year's theme will focus on music of television dating back from the 1970s to today. I am having so much fun selecting the music and planning the schedule of rehearsals, performances, and activities for the week Over the next few weeks, some of our staff members, as well as some of last year's returning counselors, will be sharing their thoughts on our blog about why they are looking forward to this year's YPC Erie Choir Camp. We hear choristers talking about camp all year long, and we thought it was important to let you know that WE get excited about it, too!

Remember that the registration deadline is July 8 and you can download the camp brochure at Scholarships are available.

I can't wait to see you all in August! Are we there yet?!

Dr. B

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tour Reflections from Choristers and Staff

This is the first performance tour that the Young People’s Chorus of Erie has been on and I am so happy I was here to be a part of it. Every performance continued to get better and better which represents the true growth of this organization. We have combined hard work with fun to make an even better sound. I have seen so many things across Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. that I might have not had the opportunity to see without YPC Erie. I have made a lifetime of friends and there is nothing that could compare to the experiences YPC has to offer.

-Emilie Toperzer, 14

On the trip back to Erie I had a chance to reflect on all of my experiences with YPC Erie. This was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, I was extremely sad that this was the last time that I would be a YPC Erie chorister. I’ve graduated and have to move on. I sang my last YPC Erie concert and spent the last night with some of my best friends. On the other hand I know that this isn’t goodbye. We found out that the three audition tapes that we recorded in May for the World Choir Games had been reviewed, and that Concert Chorus, Young Men’s Chorus, and Chorale were all accepted! I am able to come back next year and participate in the choir games. My YPC Erie life will never fade though. I love Dr. Bishop and the choir members way too much to just forget about it. As I reflect on how far this organization has come, I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I am so proud that I have helped it become what it is today. I have learned so much from this whole experience, such as how to be expressive, how be a mature adult and how to work with others in a professional manner. This choir has bonded as friends and as a family. We have learned important life lessons through hard work. Most importantly we have learned how to turn hard work into fun. I will never forget this organization, and how it has helped me grow and find my love for music.

Meredith Supinski, 18

On the bus ride home from tour, I sat reflecting on the amazing experience that I had just shared with the YPC staff and the other choristers. This tour has helped me to overcome an obstacle that in one way or another we have been struggling with since day one, expression. Without expression the music has no meaning; it is simply just notes and rhythms, but when you add expression through your body and face it turns the music into a story people can connect with. Connecting emotionally with the audience is not the only way that the choir has grown; we have also grown in terms of tone production, intonation and much more. Just because the tour is over does not mean that our hard stops. YPC Erie choristers will go into a theoretic “break” in July. I am sure, however, that Dr. B and the other staff never truly stops working for us. They help make these amazing opportunities possible.

We now will be working toward a new goal. We found out that all three choruses: Concert Chorus, Young Men’s Chorus, and Chorale, have been accepted to the 2012 World Choir Games. Everyone has their own ideas of what this chorus is and why we operate the way we do, but, when it comes down to it, it is really just about making beautiful music together. Whether we are on the steps of the Capitol, at Carnegie Hall, or on the stage at the World Choir Games, all that really matters is the music. This tour has helped me to realize that this is truly all that matters.

Hannah Becker, 16

This tour was amazing. We started out very strong and continued to improve at each performance. We really grew during this trip both musically and vocally. At State College we improved greatly because there were mirrors in the practice room. The mirrors helped us realize how unexpressive we were and we were able to fix that. That night we gave an amazing performance. The capitol was fun and the reverberations in the building were outstanding. One of our most emotional performances we had was at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The way our songs sounded and the impact we had has amazing. Seeing sick children in the audience and knowing that our concert would be broadcasted to all the rooms in the hospital made most of us cry, including myself. Our tour is done and all our concerts were amazing. This experience was incredible. We touched so many hearts and left smiles on many people’s faces. The best part of tour was finding out that the Concert Chorus, Young Men’s Chorus, and Chorale made it to the World Choir Games. Hopefully that experience will be as great as this, if not greater.

Linnae Keys, 14

I had many mixed feelings about the ride home. I was so excited to see my friends and family again, but I didn’t want to part with my YPC Erie friends. I may not see some of them for a long time when YPC Erie starts up again in August. This tour was amazing overall. We’ve all bonded so well, and not many of us want to go home yet. In conclusion of this tour I believe we’ve all learned a valuable lesson. This chorus is not about winning competitions or being the best, it’s all about the music and how well all of us connect and care about each other. YPC Erie is one big family.

Kayla McGrath, 14

The YPC Erie staff have been so impressed with the way our choristers have represented the organization this week on tour as we crossed the state of PA and D.C.! We watched them grow both in musical maturity and as young people. The choristers reflected on each performance, which made every concert better and better. They carried themselves in a professional manner, and have truly grown as young artists. Audiences young and old were so impressed with the caliber of music making our choristers displayed. We could not have asked for a more successful tour, both in terms of the impact we have made throughout the state as well as the impact we have made on each other. We are so proud to be a part of something so monumental! Thank you to all choristers, staff, chaperones, and parents for supporting YPC Erie in this week-long endeavor!

Sarah Kahl, Chief of Staff

After only one week, I feel that I have been quickly adopted into what is the YPC Erie family! Everyone involved with organization has so much to be proud of! The choristers gave eight amazing performances this week and have grown immensely as musicians and young adults. All week, we have had discussions and reflections after each concert that helped the choristers continue along an incline each day! I heard so many wonderful comments from members in the audience at all concerts who commented on the incredible musicianship of all three ensembles. Thank you so much to everyone on this trip for an incredible experience, and for making me feel so welcome!

Caitlin Henning, Assistant Conductor and Director of Education

There is no better way to get to know a group of people than by taking a week long tour with them. While we were all a close family prior to our performance tour, after a week of traveling on a bus, staying in hotels, and performing at a different venue each day, we have all become an even closer-knit family. Watching our choristers valiantly put on performance after performance despite being travel weary and putting every ounce of themselves into each performance and rehearsal was a touching experience to witness. Each participant, staff, choristers and chaperone alike worked together to make sure that each stop was special not only for our choristers but for the audiences that came out to listen. As we are travelled back to Erie it was easy to see that not a single person on the bus was the same person that boarded it a week ago. Each person has grown and reached a new level in their life.

Tiffany Gilger, Production Manager

Friday, June 17, 2011

Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital / Washington, DC

On the steps of the US Capitol

Calvary Baptist Church

Thursday morning, the choristers arrived at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital at 9am. The performance here was the most emotionally charged performance the choristers experienced. Despite the brevity of the performance (only about thirty minutes,) each and every piece reached a new level of self-expression, emotion, and connection with the audience. Sitting in the audience were two sick children with their families among a crowd of doctors and staff. Also in attendance was Dr. Harold Paz, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs for Penn State University, Dean of the College of Medicine, and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Health System. Seeing these children in the audience grabbed the hearts of our choristers. Following the performance a music therapist talked to the choristers and thanked them for what they would be providing to all the sick children of the hospital, many with cancer, rare diseases, and disabilities who frequented the facility. The performance was recorded and will be broadcasted on every TV in the hospital frequently. Knowing the impact their singing will have, some choristers, staff and even audience shed a few tears. YPC Erie will hopefully brighten the days of some of these children through the heartfelt music they delivered.

Yesterday evening, we gave an excellent performance at the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. The sanctuary was gorgeous and the acoustics were ideal. All choruses performed wonderfully, but the Young Men’s Chorus gave one of their top performances to date!

The choruses both participated in master classes with other conductors yesterday before the performance. The Young Men’s Chorus was honored to have Frank Albinder of the Washington Men’s Camerata offer different perspectives on their program. The young men absorbed every word and acted and performed like seasoned professionals. The Concert Chorus worked with Dr. Cheryl Branham, music director of Calvary Baptist Church, and long time friend of Dr. Bishop. The chorus worked on skill building and site reading and even dove right into parts of Mendelssohn’s Elijah!

Today, the choristers visited the Botanical Garden and toured the National Capitol. Following our tour, we got to perform outside Congressman Mike Kelly’s office! Staff members of Representative Dan Benishek (Michigan) and Representiave Austin Scott (Georgia) also came out to hear the performance. Tonight, the choristers will be visiting national monuments and sites of Washington, DC with their chaperones, an evening all are looking forward to!

Tomorrow, we leave for Philadelphia!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

State College / Performance for legislators in Harrisburg

This is a picture of members of Erie's legislative delegation and YPC Erie!

Yesterday, YPC Erie performed at Penn State’s University Park campus in State College. We arrived a little after noon for a rehearsal in the choir room in Music Building I. For the first time, we experienced mirrored walls in a rehearsal. Since our departure, Dr. Bishop has been working with the choristers on self-expression and ways to connect with the audience. Facial expressions come naturally to some, but to others it has been a challenge. The mirrored walls offered a “first glance” (yes, pun intended) into the chorister’s own expressions. They were able to adjust and experiment with different emotions to see what worked, what looked over-the-top, and what didn’t work so well. This unexpected perk to our rehearsal room yesterday was a pleasant surprise that made us well prepared for another solid performance in State College.

At the rehearsal we had two special guests make an appearance. Tony Leach, the 2009-10 “Penn State Laureate” and conductor of Penn State’s Essence of Joy ensemble, was our first visitor. Our second special guest was one of Penn State’s senior executives, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr. Blannie Bowen. Dr. Bowen gave some words of encouragement to our choristers and congratulated them on a great rehearsal. I think YPC Erie made a couple new fans and supporters of our efforts. At the concert, the audience included Penn State music faculty members, administrators and even Dr. Guy Jansen, founder of the New Zealand National Youth Choir!

This morning’s performance was rare and exciting. We arrived at our state capitol around 9:30am and had a quick rehearsal where we were welcomed by Representative John Hornaman (he had a committee meeting and couldn’t attend our performance.) Following the rehearsal we got a guided tour of the capitol. The beauty, magnificence and history of the state capitol captivated the choristers’ attention and they remained in awe throughout the entire tour.

Following the tour YPC Erie gave a performance few will forget. The concert was at the Main Rotunda of the Capitol. We were greeted by our two State Senators, Jane Earll and Mary Jo White, and three of our State Representatives, Patrick Harkins, Florindo Fabrizio, and Curt Sonney. In addition to our delegation being present, we performed for a lively audience of other legislators, press and capitol staff. The choristers masterfully demonstrated the value of the arts and arts education to a crowd of decision makers for the state of Pennsylvania: mission accomplished!

As you may recall, U.S. House Representative Mike Kelly charged the choristers to act as ambassadors of the Erie region and it is safe to say our chorus is accomplishing just that. Bring on day 4!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Staff Blog- Caitlin Henning

Greetings on Day 2 of the YPC Erie Tour Across the Commonwealth! Yesterday was my first official day as the new Assistant Conductor and Director of Education for YPC Erie and I don’t think I could have had a better first day on the job anywhere else! I am so impressed with the commitment to excellence that these young people demonstrate! Our first concert in Pittsburgh was a great success! The choristers brought so much energy, enthusiasm, and musicianship to the stage. At the reception after the concert, the audience members expressed how much they enjoyed the performance and many commented on how the choirs made them feel emotionally connected to the music. I’m having so much fun getting to know everyone and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store. We have arrived at State College for what I’m sure will be another exciting and impressive performance!

Caitlin Henning

*This is a picture of YPC Erie's two newest staff members departing Erie yesterday: Caitlin Henning and Rich Basler

Monday, June 13, 2011

Busride thoughts... Day 1

I am soooo excited to be on tour. It is my first tour and I am very nervous. I can’t wait to see new places meet new people. I am so grateful to be here and to get to know more about everyone in YPC. I hope this is the first of many concerts for me. This is a dream come true.

Jenna Van Houwe

* * *

What a day already! I’m sitting with Meredith Supinski!! She is amazing!! We have been listening to music on her IPod (Hairspray!!) I absolutely love this tour!! We are now going to practice Riki-Tiki-Tavi on the bus!

*Time to practice*

Practice on the bus went better than I expected! I just saw the KDKA radio antenna!! I just did a report on there! Sweet! This trip just keeps getting better!!

It is now 12:06- WE ARE IN PITTSBURGH!!! Oh my gosh!! We are here! We just passed the Roberto Clemente Bridge!!! We are now in downtown Pittsburgh. I’ll post later!!

Jacob Miaczynski

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cantare to "Pop up" all over Erie

On June 4th, Cantare will be popping up giving short impromptu performances all over Erie. How hard could it be to play hide and seek with 60 choristers in a city of a few hundred thousand? Fear not, here is a clue to one of their locations!

Last on the list is a place off of Peach

The shopping and food compete with the beach

A large space indoors

With all types of stores

A stunning performance is not out of reach

This clue tells you where they will be at their last performance at 5:30pm. Do you want some more clues? Check out our website, Facebook and our newsletter for more and see if you can find us on June 4th!