April 25, 2019
Young People's Chorus of New York City To Be Joined by Ellen Reid in "Vocal Resolutions" Concert at Gerald W. Lynch Theater, May 19
Francisco J. Núñez conducts YPC (left); Ellen Reid (right)
Francisco J. Núñez conducts YPC (left); Ellen Reid (right)
Stephanie Berger (Francisco Núñez conducts YPC) James Matthe

Concert marks culmination of 2019 Vocal Resolutions summit,
which also includes panel discussions and workshops for choristers on May 18

Pre-concert discussion with Ellen Reid and
YPC Founder and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez begins at 7:00 p.m.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (April 25, 2019) — On May 18 and 19, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City(YPC) presents the third annual summit of its Vocal Resolutionsinitiative, which facilitates cultural dialogue through singing and additional forms of collaboration, including panel discussions and workshops. Each year, the initiative centers on a different topic of social relevance to young people, and the 2019 summit focuses on the theme of “balance”—how young people can navigate the chaotic and often divisive pressures of today’s polarized and fast-paced society.

In addition to creating a dialogue among YPC choristers, Vocal Resolutions broadens participation by also including a featured composer and collaborating ensemble, and this year, these are 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid and Newfoundland’s Shallaway Youth Choir (SYC), respectively. Ms. Reid hosts the 2019 summit, and her Vocal Resolutions commission, So Much on My Soul, receives its world premiere by YPC and SYC a cappella at the summit’s culminating concert, presented at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater on Sunday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Regarding the upcoming performance, YPC Founder and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez said:

“I am very excited about this program. I approached Ellen Reid, a composer I have long admired and whose music touches on many social issues, about creating a new work on the topic of balance and to work with the singers to create lyrics and poems for her new piece, as well as to work with me to curate an entire evening of balance and music. I am especially thrilled with the opportunity to partner with the Shallaway Youth Choir, a marvelous chorus from Newfoundland, whom YPC has visited several times since 2001. Now we are delighted to be hosting them. They are a perfect fit for this concert. Their choristers are among those who are experiencing the huge pressures society is placing on them. In YPC we engage the choristers in ongoing, open dialogues. Lately, the conversations have led to the idea of how to balance and surmount the many personal, social, and academic challenges in their lives as well as the personal challenges of balancing their identities. I feel certain all of our choristers will benefit from this experience.”

Mr. Núñez conducts the world premiere by Ms. Reid, who hosts a pre-concert talk at 7:00 p.m. with Mr. Núñez and a small group of choristers about the pressures and expectations facing teenagers today. Ms. Reid said the following about her experience working with YPC as part of this commission:

“When Francisco Núñez asked me to write a piece about “balance” for YPC, he was quick to specify that the lyrics for my piece could come from anywhere, and that I could interpret the word however I saw fit. After meeting with the YPC musicians, it became clear that the most compelling texts were the choristers’ own personal stories. I worked with a small group of singers who wrote poetry about their journey to self-acceptance, and I excerpted these poems and set them to music. It felt important for the piece to have cycles and repeating gestures, as the journey to self-acceptance and balance is both cyclical and endless.”

In addition to singing together in the world premiere of Ms. Reid’s So Much on My Soul, YPC and SYC sing separate sets on the concert program. Each song in YPC’s set is preceded by a poem, narrative, or monologue written by a YPC chorister to reflect his or her perspective on the many pressures and expectations facing young New Yorkers—and how they can find balance and peace in this chaos. YPC’s set comprises the following works, conducted by Mr. Núñez:

  • Pseudo-Yoik by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi: This high-intensity work explores the chaos of language. In a fast-paced city of so many accents and languages, how can a young person communicate when they’re judged not just by the content of what they say, but by the accent with which they say it?
  • Bubbles by Bernat Vivancos: With its sonic overlap of voices singing in canon to the words “Bubbles are silent thoughts shining and floating through the sky,” this piece is used by YPC to explore academic expectations: How can teenagers transcend and float above the pressures of our education system without popping? How do they keep sight of their own individuality and personal truths?
  • Take Time by The Books, a cover by Ellen Reid: This song, reworked by Ellen Reid for YPC with Mantra Percussion, asks: How do we balance the immense pressures and constraints of time with the joy of being fully present in the moment?
  • Orpheus by Dominick Argento: This YPC commission from the late Dominick Argento explores the balance between “childhood” and “adulthood.” For a young person who has experienced things that most people do not encounter until they are older (e.g., the death of a family member), how can they still be a kid?
  • Another Hundred People by Stephen Sondheim, arr. Jonathan Rathbone: The sheer number of people in our world today—which translates to more competition for school admissions, more competition for jobs—can be overwhelming for young people and a source of stress and misplaced priorities. Sondheim channels this anxiety in the context of New York.

The SYC set is conducted by Artistic Director Kellie Walsh (see repertoire below), and the program also includes Mantra Percussion performing Ms. Reid’s solo percussion work Fear | Release.

YPC launched Vocal Resolutions two years ago with a five-year grant from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. Exploring the theme of “freedom,” the inaugural summit took place at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Room on May 13, 2017 and featured collaborators the Boston Children’s Chorus and composer Michael Gordon, whose Vocal Resolutions commission To Sing was given its world premiere in the concluding concert. Last year’s summit, which focused on the topic of “citizenship,” featured two new commissions, Paola Prestini’s The Glass Box—performed with Yale Choral Artists—and Arturo O’Farrill’s Borderless. The summit comprised performances and additional activities on June 16, 2018 at the Yale School of Music and June 18, 2018 at New York’s Merkin Hall.


Young People’s Chorus of New York City is a world-renowned youth chorus founded in 1988 on a mission of diversity, artistic excellence, and education by Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow and Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year. Under the leadership of Mr. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, the program harnesses the power of music to fulfill the potential of children, heightening an awareness of the ability of children to rise to unforeseen levels of artistry. Over 1,700 children from ages 8 to 18 participate annually in YPC through its after-school, in-school, and community programs. YPC is a recipient of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, America’s highest honor for youth programs. For more information, visit ypc.org.


Major support for the Vocal Resolutions: Shaping Perceptions through Music Program is provided by The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. Lead Corporate Sponsor for the Great Expectations concert is Travelers. The program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

So Much on My Soul was commissioned by YPC with support from The Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund. Special thanks to The ASCAP Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and Amphion Foundation for supporting new music commissions and performances, and the Witherspoon Fund of the New York Community Trust for supporting new work by female composers.

# # #


Sunday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College
Young People’s Chorus of New York City
Francisco J. Núñez, Founder and Artistic Director
Jon Holden, piano
Shallaway Youth Choir
Kellie Walsh, Artistic Director
Mantra Percussion
Ellen Reid, host

Pre-concert talk with Ellen Reid and Francisco J. Núñez at 7:00 p.m.

Young People’s Chorus of New York City
THE BOOKS, a cover by ELLEN REID Take Time**

**featuring Mantra Percussion

Mantra Percussion
ELLEN REID Fear | Release

Shallaway Youth Choir
TRADITIONAL, arr. MOIRA SMILEY Wayfaring Stranger
TRADITIONAL, arr. TRACEY WONG Wau Bulan (Traditional Malaysian)
THE ENNIS SISTERS, arr. LESLEE HEYES Sing You Home (Newfoundland Folk Song)
CRAIG HELLA JOHNSON Will There Really Be A Morning
TRADITIONAL, arr. JOHN GODOVAS I'se The Bye (Newfoundland Folk Song)

ELLEN REID So Much on My Soul (World Premiere)

Tickets for general admission priced $25 ($15 for students) are available from Ticket Central via its web site (TicketCentral.com), by calling (212) 279-4200, or in person at the Ticket Central box office inside of Playwrights Horizons at 416 West 42nd Street.

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