The Sound of Young Brooklyn

Photos Axel Dupeux

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus “was founded to be of and for Brooklyn—to represent the diverse neighborhoods and people who live here, and to offer the finest musical training for kids close to home,” founder and Artistic Director Dianne Berkun tells us. “Unlike other choral organizations that find strength
in their uniformity of sound, BYC celebrates the diversity of voices within, and how combining different vocal timbres and textures affords the richest color palette.”

The chorus has accomplished a lot since its founding 20 years ago: it’s played the White House, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden; it’s performed with major orchestras and major pop stars, from Lou Reed to Elton John to Ray Davies. And the group shows no signs of slowing down: this season it performed at a Philip Glass premiere, presented “Brooklyn Village” with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and performed at BAM’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival; in June, it’ll join the New York Philharmonic for Carmina Burana, then participate in the River to River festival. In short, the group has come a long way since Berkun started with 45 kids in Downtown Brooklyn; today, she oversees 350 students in spaces in Cobble Hill and Bed-Stuy. “We strive to change the common perception of a youth chorus as kids singing kids’ music, or as lacking in depth or sophistication, by showing over and over again that these highly trained and accomplished singers have an enormous technical capacity and artistic range,” Berkun tells us. “And that they offer a sound of
unique and abundant beauty, which can be both angelic and downright gritty!”

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