Press

Profile of Dianne Berkun Menaker

“The trouble with choral music, Dianne Berkun Menaker thinks, is it’s a tad standoffish, what with all the formal robes and ecclesiastical vibes. For some people, “it becomes an academic thing — not something they can identify with,” she says. Good thing Menaker happens to be a choral director. She is the founder of the prestigious Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a diverse Grammy-award winning choir made up of 600 students who hail from New York City’s roughest neighborhoods to its most elite. The group regularly performs a mix of contemporary classics and pop-music-inspired pieces at celebrated venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.” —The Story Exchange, December 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIgT7CuTEMI

 

Review of Silent Voices Album

“The truth of Silent Voices is that the Brooklyn Youth Chorus displays tremendous musicianship, stylistic sensitivity, and vocal flexibility while powerfully demanding that listeners confront hard truths about racism, gender roles and discrimination, ageism, the social responsibilities of politics, and displaced populations. Period.” —I Care if You Listen, December 2018

Top 10 Contemporary Classical Music Albums of 2018

“Silent Voices not only gives voice to those who have been historically marginalized, but also gives the members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus agency over their message and their music making, allowing them to act as catalysts for change. The young choristers not only demonstrate a mature comprehension of the subject matter, but also exhibit an impressive command of vocal styles ranging from hip hop to gospel to contemporary techniques to bel canto singing.” —I Care if You Listen, December 2018

Review of Silent Voices

“Since its founding 25 years ago by its indefatigable artistic director, Dianne Berkun Menaker, it has given voice to children and young adults from a wide range of backgrounds. Musically, too, it fosters diversity with a targeted training program that teaches choristers to sing in a variety of styles and sounds. Typical members of the chorus’s professional-level concert ensemble know how to shade their voices to sound idiomatically pop, classical or gospel. [of Caroline Shaw’s ‘So Quietly’]…Using novel vocal techniques, including sharp, rhythmic breathwork, the music…(also demonstrated the enormous versatility and polish of these young singers.)” —The New York Times, May 2017

Review of Silent Voices

“Right out of the gate, in Shaw’s “so quietly,” the seven-stage musicianship program required for the BYC singers paid off as they conquered extremely complex rhythms with accuracy, not to mention perfect intonation. Even the microtonal slides and widely changing vocal timbres – including audible breathing – typical of Shaw were child’s play to these teens.”…“Everybody’s been really transformed.” She was referring to the choristers who created Silent Voices. But it was true of the audience who heard the piece as well.”  —Classical Voice North America, May 2017

New York Premiere of James MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion with the New York Choral Society

“The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, prepared by its artistic director Dianne Berkun Menaker, proved equal to its prominent role and then some. By the choice of a children’s choir, MacMillan evidently intended to give Christ’s words an otherworldly sheen, and this chorus delivered with pure unisons, finely tuned polyphony and secure high entrances, and gave its elders some lessons in diction as well.” —New York Classical ReviewApril 2017

Review of Black Mountain Songs Album

“Originally staged as a choreographed pageant at bam’s Harvey Theatre, in 2014 (the late Harvey Lichtenstein, bam’s dynamic director, was a Black Mountain alumnus), “Black Mountain Songs” earned a rave review in the Times—and when you hear the astonishingly secure performance of the young singers, who have been tasked with executing some formidably complex choral textures, you immediately understand why.” —The New Yorker, April 2017

Review of Aging Magician at the New Victory Theater

The score is vividly performed by the impressive members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus(Dianne Berkun Menaker, conductor), who become a kind of Greek chorus, and the fine string players of the Attacca Quartet. Some of the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases. Yet there are complex stretches of cluster chords that the choristers sing with precision (and from memory)…During some frenetic, ha-ha-ha outbursts, the young singers draw upon their inner demons to chilling effect. —The New York Times, March 2017

Review of Black Mountain Songs at BAM

Black Mountain Songs,” an exhilarating 90-minute staged choral work with readings, videos, dancers and, at its core, the singing of the impressive Brooklyn Youth Chorus … The choral songs at the heart of this work are performed with confidence, energy and tenderness (and from memory) by the 50 skilled singers of the Brooklyn Youth ChorusThe sheer beauty of their singing was captivating … Ms. Berkun-Menaker is a remarkable choral director … It was heartening to see them basking in the standing ovation that “Black Mountain Songs” won from the audience that filled the theater.” —The New York Times, November 2014

Joan of Arc at the Stake with Marion Cotillard and the New York Philharmonic

“The members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (Dianne Berkun-Menaker, director), models as always of musical and dramatic confidence, appear as sheep, little beasts, they’re called, to cheer on the trial.” —The New York Times, June 2015

Features of the Chorus

“Among New York’s choral groups, Brooklyn Youth Chorus stands alone.” —New York Magazine, May 2009

Brooklyn Youth Chorus is as fine as it gets, in demand with the greatest orchestras and the most important composers.” —Brooklyn Rail, November 2012

 

More Press Features

Join us! Become a Season Member

November 7, 2019

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See more. Hear more. Make a difference. Become a Brooklyn Youth Chorus 2019-20 Season Member

Silent Voices Album Review from Textura

December 29, 2018

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“Don't mistake Brooklyn Youth Chorus for a grade-school choir belting out gleeful tunes for the school assembly. Though the group's singers range in age from twelve to eighteen, they're a preternaturally mature bunch unafraid of tackling topically relevant issues and injustice in all its forms. A natural tension emerges in the contrast between the youthful sonorities of their voices and the dramatic political content presented in the group's sophomore album, but if anything that contrast accentuates how central such issues already are for a generation on the cusp of adulthood. It's not hard to understand how the singers come to be so enlightened: members of the Grammy Award-winning outfit (for its involvement in the premiere recording of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls) are drawn from five boroughs and thus represent a socio-economically diverse portrait of NYC youth.”

Silent Voices Album Named Top 10 Contemporary Classical Music Albums

By Amanda Cook | December 21, 2018

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"Silent Voices not only gives voice to those who have been historically marginalized, but also gives the members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus agency over their message and their music making, allowing them to act as catalysts for change. The young choristers not only demonstrate a mature comprehension of the subject matter, but also exhibit an impressive command of vocal styles ranging from hip hop to gospel to contemporary techniques to bel canto singing."

Silent Voices Album Review from I Care If You Listen

By Jeremiah Cawley | December 20, 2018

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"The truth of Silent Voices is that the Brooklyn Youth Chorus displays tremendous musicianship, stylistic sensitivity, and vocal flexibility while powerfully demanding that listeners confront hard truths about racism, gender roles and discrimination, ageism, the social responsibilities of politics, and displaced populations. Period."

Hagoromo Album Review from Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

By Grego Applegate Edwards |

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"A lively vaguely Asian percussion singularity and an alto flute in harmonics mode begins the work mysteriously and the very pronounced resonance of the work is established. The work falls naturally into the performative of soloists and chorus and the instrumental parts too seem natural. Yet all of it has an almost ritual primality at times, as definite echoes of the Noh music from the original. At the same time in varying degrees there is a High Modernity of harmonic-melodic intent. All this works quite well for a result very intriguing and worthwhile. It all falls most nicely onto the ears. The youth chorus gives the sound quality a heightened mythical aura as does the orchestration as well. It is most lovely music! Nathan Davis is a natural! Brilliant!"

I Care If You Listen on Silent Voices: If You Listen

June 20, 2018

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"For their part, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus endeavors to “celebrate the power of young people to be instruments of change, amplifying the voices of those who have been overpowered, marginalized, or rendered silent.”

Silent Voices: Classical Voice North America Review

June 12, 2017

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Youth Speaks Transformatively In Silent Voices according to Classical Voice North America

Silent Voices: New York Times Review

By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim | May 15, 2017

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The New York Times reminds us all that "a new generation is already impatient to take the stage and make itself heard."

Black Mountain Songs Album Receives Rave Reviews from The New Yorker

By Russell Platt | March 27, 2017

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“Black Mountain Songs” earned a rave review in the Times—and when you hear the astonishingly secure performance of the young singers, who have been tasked with executing some formidably complex choral textures, you immediately understand why. But when divorced from the production the unevenness of the selections is inevitably apparent. "

New Amsterdam Records to release Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ debut album, Black Mountain Songs, March 31

February 14, 2017

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New Amsterdam Records is proud to announce the release of Black Mountain Songs, the debut album from the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus, out March 31.

Concert Ensemble performs Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Max Posner’s Envelopes

December 5, 2016

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Brooklyn Youth Chorus performs Envelopes from 67 by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Max Posner.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus named WQXR Artists-in-Residence

October 10, 2016

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WQXR, New York’s only all-classical radio station, has selected Brooklyn Youth Chorus as its Artists-in-Residence for the 2016-17 season.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus on PBS Kids

November 20, 2015

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Brooklyn Youth Chorus appears in the promo of Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas, airing on PBS Kids. See the commercial on TV and in movie theaters near you.

Splash at New York Fashion Week

September 16, 2015

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The Spring/Summer collection for rag & bone was unveiled at the new St. Ann's Warehouse Monday night. Thom Yorke of Radiohead provided a haunting, ethereal track that members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang during the show. Fashion and music critics from Vogue, The New York Times, Women's Wear Daily, to the Washington Post praised the Chorus for their beautiful sound.

“The Future Maestros of Brooklyn”

By Rebecca Bratburd | May 22, 2015

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The Brooklyn Youth Chorus gala offered a sneak peek into a work four years in the making.