The Young People’s Chorus Launches Its Spring/Summer Season in Style

The United Palace, built in 1930 as one of Loew’s “Wonder Theatres,” is the perfect venue for a grand event. Seating more than 3,000 people, United Palace has hosted well known musical artists, dance companies, authors, as well as being used as a magnificent location for film companies. On Sunday, June 2, 600 members of the Young People’s Chorus of New York took to the stage to launch their spring/summer season in style. The theatre was filled to capacity with family, friends, supporters, and fans of this iconic chorus which has become part of the cultural fabric, as well as seasoned ambassadors, for the city. 

Francisco J. Núñez (right, above), YPC’s founder and artistic director, who grew up in Washington Heights, told the audience he was thrilled to be back in his old neighborhood, especially excited to bring to the United Palace the YPC’s “Spring Celebration Concert: In the Key of Love.” From modest beginnings, YPC has grown into a mammoth operation, boasting a large, talented artistic staff, including Núñez’s wife, Elizabeth Núñez, who serves as creative director, as well as  numerous conductors, choreographers, vocal coaches, a wardrobe coordinator, and production assistants. For the June 2 concert, Núñez said more than 200 people worked back stage to coordinate all the activity.

That coordination was evident in how smoothly the evening unfolded. Each group of choristers – they range in age from eight to 18 – filed onto the stage, performed, and then exited to make room for the next act without a misstep. The program was challenging and exemplified YPC’s focus on diversity. Selections included: “Malaysian Folk Song,” arranged by Tracy Wong; “Motherless Child,” an African-American spiritual arranged by Craig Hella Johnson; “Die Mainacht,” Johannes Brahms, arranged by James McCullough; and “They Sang Joy” and “Asperitas,” by Francisco Núñez. Núñez also conducted the older choristers in the German composer and conductor Michael Ostrzyga’s a cappella piece, “Iuppiter.” 

Contemporary songs truly celebrated “In the Key of Love,” and included “Footloose,” “Can’t Hurry Love,” “Seasons of Love,” “Good Lovin’,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The audience resounded by singing and clapping along. 

Musicians for the event included: Gracie Francis, piano; Jason Wetzel, synthesizer/piano; Dillon Kondor, guitar; Rob Jost, bass; Jim Papoulis, flute/percussion; Adam Wolfe, drums; Pascual Martinez-Forteza, clarinet; Grace Leeyung King, haegeum; and Song Sun Shin, gayageum. 

At the end of the performance, Núñez awarded the 16 graduating choristers college scholarships. Many of these young people have been with YPC for a decade.

An exciting summer is in store for the choristers, including 100 who will travel to Auckland, New Zealand, to compete with singers from across the globe in the world’s largest choir competition. Organized by INTERKULTUR, the World Choir Games was founded to bring people and nations who are united through singing together in peaceful competition.

This Time Round, a documentary about the YPC filmed during the pandemic, will have its official world premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival, at 5 p.m., Friday, June 21, at Cinema Village. (Go to the website for more information.)

Other upcoming YPC performances include: 

Summer for the City by Presenting Red Light, Green Light School Choruses Concert
Thursday, June 13 at 11 a.m.
Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Amsterdam Avenue & W 62nd Street, New York City
Free and open to the public.

Young Peoples Chorus of New York City in NationalSawdust+s A Crisis of Responsibility: Excerpts from The Shell Trial”
Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.
National Sawdust
80 N 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York City

Young Peoples Chorus of New York City at Sing a Mile High Choral Festival
June 24-28, 2024
Denver, CO

YPC National Lab and Studio Summer Program at Music Academy
Monday, July 22 – Monday, July 29
1070 Fairway Road, Santa Barbara, CA

Top photo: Young People’s Chorus Spring Celebration Concert: In The Key of Love, at United Palace on June 2, 2024 and graduation for seniors.
Photo credit: Stephanie Berger

For more information on YPC go to the group’s website.

About Charlene Giannetti (714 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.