The idea to start a chorus sprang from my frustration with hearing people say, “I can’t sing.” I strongly believe everyone can.
History of the New York City Community Chorus
In the early 1990s, I was singing in the professional choir of Church of the Holy Apostles, a progressive landmark in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Church of the Holy Apostles hosts the largest soup kitchen in New York City, feeding more than 1,000 hungry people every weekday. That inspired me to ask if they would host a non-audition chorus as a musical outreach to the neighborhood.
From its beginning, the mission of New York City Community Chorus has been to restore singing to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, to provide a place for anyone who wants to sing, and to heal the community through singing. Over the past two decades, the Chorus has grown to more than 70 people, and has served hundreds of community singers and attracted thousands to two annual concerts. Membership is unrestricted—by talent, training, age, race, religion, income, or anything else. Our choristers find equal delight in singing a simple piece of folk music in two parts as they do in learning a complex, multi-part choral masterwork.
The repertory reflects the diversity of the Chorus and our neighborhood. We’ve sung music in Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Spanish, Twi (from Ghana) and other African languages, and Yiddish. Here are samples of some themes from past concerts: exploring the development of early rock ‘n roll, Spanish zarzuelas, the Woody Guthrie Centennial, and luminaries of the Great American Songbook such as Dorothy Fields and Harold Arlen.