A message from Commonwealth Youthchoirs Artistic Director Steven M. Fisher
Since the inception of the Pennsylvania Girlchoir (PG) in 2004, it has been a dream of mine for PG to have full-time musical leadership. I am elated to share with you the wonderful news that Ms. Melissa Keylock has been appointed its very first full-time Music Director. Melissa hopes to lead this remarkable group into a new era of even greater choral heights. Created in 2004 as the sister choir of Keystone State Boychoir, over the last 13 years PG has earned a stellar reputation as one of the leading ensembles of its kind in the country.
Melissa is an outstanding choral educator and conductor, with extensive expertise and experience with young singers of all levels, from elementary to high school age. Melissa is a shining star in the children’s choir and girlchoir universe, and we are very fortunate to have her join our organization. She is also a gem of a human being. The girls and young women of PG will love her, as has every group of singers who’ve had the opportunity to sing under her direction. (Wait until they experience her yoga choral warm ups!) To learn more about Melissa, you can read her bio here. You can read the press release here.
For the last six years, the Girlchoir has been fortunate to have a stellar conductor in PG Music Director Vincent Metallo. His impeccable musicianship and high choral standards helped Pennsylvania Girlchoir to blossom in incredible ways during his tenure. Of course, we would have loved to have Vincent as a full-time Music Director from the beginning of his tenure with PG. But his other professional obligations – including a full-time position at Princeton High School – precluded him from this extensive of a commitment with us. And so we bid a fond au revoir to Vincent, who has served PG so well. He, like all of us, wishes Melissa the best. He agrees wholeheartedly with the need for a full-time Music Director, and looks forward to seeing PG grow in wonderful ways with the full-time leadership it deserves. In turn, we wish Vincent the very best and will always be grateful for the incredible musicianship and high choral standards he brought to PG. He’ll always be a part of the PG/CY family. In fact, not only are we going to honor Vincent in a very special way in the coming season, there are plans to have him back as a guest conductor with a very special work. Stay tuned!
PG has an exciting season of performances ahead. In collaboration with the Keystone State Boychoir, it will perform Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms in honor of the composer’s centennial. The CY organization will host Choirs ROCK! Concert, bringing together 10,000 singers for the largest choral concert in US history. To finish out the season, the brother – sister choirs will embark on a concert tour of South Africa where they will represent America at the World Choral Games.
By virtue of her position as PG Music Director, Melissa will also serve as Assistant Artistic Director of Commonwealth Youthchoirs (CY), working closely with me to transform the lives of young people through the power of making music together. More than 700 singers, half of whom are underserved, take part in Commonwealth Youthchoirs six award-winning programs: Keystone State Boychoir, Pennsylvania Girlchoir, Find Your Instrument!, Good Mornin’ Music, Garden State Girlchoir, and New Jersey Boychoir. For more information, visit cychoirs.org.
Monday, June 19, 2017 – Quick Post!
With the thrill of Saturday’s concert in the rear view mirror, PG 2017 Tour Choir gathered at PCCH on Sunday afternoon to embark on a concert tour of Sweden! Other than a 2 hour delay on the tarmac, (“It’s a busy airport,” informs the pilot), our trip was uneventful and we arrived at Uppenbarelsekyrkan Svenka Kyrkan, got something to eat, had a brief rehearsal, and the girls were off to their homestay family. Everyone was happy and well, if in need of some sleep!
Tomorrow we will do some sight-singing, rehearse some more, and enjoy Stockholm!
With our homestays!
Good night from Sweden!
Pennsylvania Girlchoir never slows down, taking to the road the day after An Evening with Stephen Schwartz on Sunday, June 18 for a 7 day tour of Sweden! TheThe tour takes PG to Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, and to Rattvik, known as sSweden’s heartland. Follow the tour on the PG Tour page or the see the latest blog posts and itinerary on the Sweden 2017 tour page! And receive notifications of new Blog posts by subscribing to PGBlog – sign up to the right on the PGBlog page.
Photo by: Mr Phil Price / www.flickr.com License: Creative Commons License (By SA 2.0)
On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, fifty-four years to the day after the Children’s’ Crusade of Birmingham, Alabama, began, hundreds of young singers from Find Your Instrument! Choir, Keystone State Boychoir, and Pennsylvania Girlchoir continued the message of heroism and hope when they performed The Children’s March at Girard College in Philadelphia. In the 1960s, the Children’s Crusade was a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement that exemplified bravery by hundreds of children who used non-violent protest in the face arrests and fire hoses.
The Children’s March was written by two Philadelphia artists: composer Andrew Bleckner and internationally renowned storyteller and librettist Charlotte Blake Alston. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) helped fund this performance of The Children’s March, which was originally commissioned by Singing City in 2013. Many remember news reports and TV footage of the heroic actions of hundreds of children in the face of police dogs, fire hoses and batons which brought national attention to the Civil Rights Movement and helped end segregation in Birmingham. The youngest marcher, who was jailed for a week, was only 9 years old.
Some of the singers performing at Girard College are the same age as the protesters were at the time. “The message of this piece is powerful,” said Steven Fisher, founder and artistic director of Keystone State Boychoir. He added, “We want our singers to know that they matter, that their voices matter, and that by singing together, they have the power to change the world.”
The Children’s March garnered public attention including articles in The Philadelphia Citizen, The Philadelphia Tribune, and coverage by 6ABC.
April 27, 2017
Commonwealth Youthchoirs—which wowed the Pope in 2015—presents “The Children’s March” to commemorate the children of the 1963 Birmingham protest and to inspire young people today
BY SARAH JORDAN
“This work reminds our children of the power of standing up for something they believe in,” says Fisher. “It also reminds the adults that children have a lot of power. We tend to say kids are too idealistic or say, ‘You don’t understand how the world works,’ but back in 1963, when those kids marched against segregation, their idealism worked to everyone’s advantage.”