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JUNE 29-JULY 7, 2008

The YPC Cantare division arrived in Powell River, British Columbia on Tuesday July 1, after 3 days of travel and rehearsal in Vancouver. Thirty-seven choristers ages 10-14 had traveled to participate in their first international competition and festival: The International Choral Kathaumixw. For many of these children, it was their first time away from mom, first time on a plane, and first time in another country!

When we left they were most excited about the things most children were excited about: sleeping with their friends in a hotel room, swimming, watching movies on the bus. They quickly forgot about those things when we arrived at the festival. We were one of the youngest choirs at the festival, the least experienced, and proud to be representing the diversity of New York City. The choristers’ focus soon turned to two goals: 1. making friends with children from other choirs and 2. making their performances—both in competition and in concerts—the very best they could be.

Each of our community concerts were sold out. Our second concert was completed with a standing ovation and encore and as the children boarded the bus to return to their hotel room, the audience continued to applaud them in the parking lot. Cantare’s competition performances were equally as enticing, filled with difficult programming and diversity in song selections and the chorus came off the stage feeling elated about their accomplishments. Community members of Powell River complimented their musicality where ever they went. Other conductors commented on the extraordinary venture of bringing a choruses “intermediate” ensemble to such an event.

The first day, choristers learned a singing game from the Surrey Youth Chorus—a young women’s choir—called “Run, run, my baby.” Our choristers then proceeded to invite all the other choirs to play along. The game requires everyone to make a big circle (you can have as many or as few play as you like) and some members run in the middle of the circle and dance, choosing others to take their place. YPC quickly became friends with every choir from the South African Youth Chorus to the Kotori Children’s Choir from Japan to the Seattle Girls’ Chorus.

During our travel home, the choristers wrote about what they had seen and learned. Here are some of their responses:

• This tour has enhanced my pride in YPC because “I can see that we were the most diverse chorus there and we still did really well despite what people expect from us.”
• This tour “made me realize how much I love to sing. I have more emotion when I [perform]”
• “I learned how to be more social.”
• “I learned to get more into the music when I am singing and not just to memorize the lyrics, but to know what they actually mean.”
• “My favorite moment was the middle of “Beauty in a Moment” when there was this AMAZING connection between the audience, Elizabeth, and us. It was so beautiful and one of the most MAGICAL moments I have ever experienced with YPC.”
• “We worked so hard, and finally we pulled it together and did our best. That makes me so proud of Cantare! Also, there was such team spirit throughout the trip because everyone was so invested in doing our best—we all were very proud to be a part of YPC.”
• “The greatest experience was that we were so strong and passionate about our singing that winning didn’t matter to us. We learned that practice makes BETTER! YPC is my second family.”
• “This week I learned to breathe deeply, trust myself, and that no matter what you see on the outside, everyone can be a friend.”
• “I learned that even though people can be so diverse you can still be so happy together and have fun times. We spent so much effort in rehearsals and it paid off, we did our very best. This trip was truly AMAZING!!”
• “I tried very hard to remember everything we worked on. At the end of “Miracles” it was so together and very powerful..”
• “I gave all of what I got. I worked really hard, made many new friends from a lot of other choirs and had FUN!”
• “My greatest musical experience was seeing other choirs and how they perform and the amount of focus they have. I am very proud that we got the right pitches. This is not only a choir, but a big family.”
• “This trip made me more independent, responsible, and a little more outspoken. Seeing everyone support everyone else and being together as a family made me feel better about being a part of YPC.”
• Seeing all the choirs from around the world taught me “that no matter what culture or language you practice or know, singing is something we all love. I am motivated to work harder.”
• I am proud of YPC because “its true we are all in this together, and together we can achieve anything.”
• “I learned that even though we do not speak the same languages, we all come together through song.”
• “This trip changed my life. It was my first time on a plane and a boat!”
• “This tour taught me that I don’t have to be afraid to sing in front of people. Because I used to have that fear.”
• “The greatest experience
 was finishing the competition and feeling amazing and feeling the hard work paid off. Hard work always pays off.”