Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ ‘Black Mountain Songs’

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ sold out album release party for their debut album ‘Black Mountain Songs’ was very entertaining to watch.  The video was available on WQXR‘s website on Friday March 31st at 7:30 pm and was hosted by Helga Davis.  The Brooklyn Youth Chorus is made up of young children and the chamber ensemble accompanying them was made up of adults, and even one of the featured composers on the album was a part of it.  They performed at The Greene Space at WQXR, which is a reoccurring venue for them throughout the performing season.  Watching the video made me feel as if I was there in the audience being entertained in person by an amazing group of young children who are great at what they do.

The chorus performed many songs from the album and I have chosen to write about a few of them that spoke to me the most.  The first song that they performed showcased their talent but just enough to hook you in and to make you want to keep watching and listening to these talented children, and talented chamber ensemble.  For most of the song, there was only a piano playing lightly while the chorus sang.  This song was one of my favorites because it showed how talented everyone participating was and they sounded very professional.  This song was like dipping your toe into the water before fully submerging yourself in the pool of wonderful music that lay straight ahead waiting to hug your ears with wonderful sounds.

The second song performed was absolutely my favorite song.  It is called There is Sound and it featured violins, vibraphones, double bass, piano and cello.   The chorus sounded very angelic from the start of the song.  The reason why i enjoyed listening to this song so much is because it gives you that nostalgic feeling of a happy and peaceful time in your life.  To me it is one of those songs where you can close your eyes and tilt your head back to just completely envelop yourself in the voices of the chorus and then the perfect playing of the instruments.  Every note is played when it should be and the chorus hits every note that they are supposed to without missing a beat.  This song was so touching to me that once I finished watching the video, I went back and listened to this song again and it felt as if i was listening to it for the first time again but yet it felt so familiar.  The chorus’ words hit you like the chilled breeze a fall evening while the violins and cello are evoking the sense of watching leaves get slightly picked up by the wind while walking through the park.  A song hasn’t impacted my emotions the way this song did in a while, and it is refreshing to see that a youth chorus can do that to a musician.

Something that was very interesting to me was the fact that a composer of three of the songs on the album, including There is Sound, was also playing double bass and then electric guitar on a later song.  Richard Reed Parry is a core member of the indie-rock band Arcade Fire, and he is also a composer and musician among other things.  When the host asked him about transitioning from writing for a rock band to writing for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus he said the collaboration was exciting and something new and rewarding.  He mentioned specifically the last piece that they were going to perform because there was a direct collaboration with the chorus. He asked them if they wanted to extend the last part of the song and because they said yes and were excited about performing it, they lengthened it to meet their standards.  I think its amazing that a composer was willing to listen to the young chorus and actually agree with them and make the song even more amazing than it already was.

The last song performed was my second favorite only because There is Sound just captured my emotions and didn’t let go of them.  The chorus was haunting for this song and their voices are still amazing even after singing so many songs previously.  At the beginning of the performance, the violins and cello are playing softly as the chorus is singing in such a united voice that it just wraps you up like your favorite blanket.  The song then changes to being energetic and very catchy.  The chorus goes from standing still to not only singing but also stomping their feet and clapping their hands in unison.  This part seemed to be a lot of fun for the chorus to perform and it was very enjoyable to watch them.  This was a great song to choose to end the performance with and it leaves you knowing how talented the youth chorus is and how talented the chamber ensemble is as well.  This was a great video to watch and I can just imagine how amazing it was for those fortunate enough to be able to attend in person.

One comment

  1. HI Alejandro,
    This looks like a stellar line-up of composers! I’m curious about the first piece that you mention–I don’t see a title or composer’s name. Were they given? Or is this a problem with archived concerts: we don’t get a program!

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