BOSTON (CBS) – It’s been a long time since the singers who make up Boston Children’s Chorus have prepared for a live audience. Their excitement is palpable.
After a lengthy wait, the Boston Children’s Chorus MLK Concert titled “Can You See The Stars” is now scheduled for March 27 at Symphony Hall.
Fourteen-year-old Greta Rubenstein told WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes that it’s her favorite concert of the year.
“It’s such a good place to get to sing all of the important music we’ve been working on front the beginning of the year. It was really sad when it had to be postponed. Obviously, I understand. But I’m really excited to get back to it,” Rubenstein said.
Until a few weeks ago, their rehearsals (and some performances) were all online. Like the others in the advanced choir, Rubenstein has missed connecting with chorus members in person. The chorus, they explained, is about so much more than singing.
“I’ve been home-schooled since third grade,” Illaria Moore said. “It’s a very welcoming environment. It’s like a second family. And honestly, it just proves to me that even though I’ve been home-schooled for so long, I can still talk to people and make friends with people.”
While Illaria was speaking, Amanda Cooper stood by, nodding,
“You don’t have to worry about being judged or living up to expectations. We just get to be ourselves,” Cooper said.
When Hubie Jones founded Boston Children’s Chorus in 2003, his goal was to create an inclusive, diverse community of performers, musicians, and staff who share a commitment to social justice. Almost 20 years later, the chorus is thriving. While BCC lost performers during the pandemic, more than 240 singers remained with the program. Singers come from more than 100 Greater Boston communities.
“When people come to a Boston Children Chorus concert and they see the children walk onstage…they see a reflection of a Boston they don’t always encounter,” says BCC Executive Director Andres Holer. “When you see BCC singing in perfect harmony, there’s hope. There’s joy. There’s future and connection across all these different races and ages. So I think – for the audience to experience a BCC concert—it gives them hope for the future of the city.”
Singer Josephine Almond agreed.
“When you know people of a lot of different backgrounds, it really helps toward tolerance and empathy. That really ties into BCC’s mission of creating change,” Almond said.
Singer Ben Wilkinson, who joined BCC during the pandemic, is thankful for the opportunity to express herself through song with friends she would not have met any other way.
“It really added a lot more zest to my life,” said Wilkinson, who said that meeting people who weren’t within 10 miles of her hometown of Bolton has opened her eyes and her heart.
The experience—of singing songs that showcase diversity and a range of experiences—also deepens her appreciation for her family history.
“Since I come from a mixed background—my dad is white and my mom is Black—I talk to my mom about them. I want to hear about it from her perspective. I talk about it with my friends who are people of color,” Wilkinson said.
Fourteen-year-old Phaedra Sanon said the chorus unites them in a beautiful way.
“I think that sense of unity through diversity—and people who come from different places and have different lives kind of grants a diverse but unified Boston. Like our own tiny little Boston in this building,” Sanon said.
The MLK Concert features BCC students as young as seven—more than 200 singers who are eager to share their message and their gifts with a live audience.
The young women in the advanced chorus say they can’t wait. And conductor Emily Howe anticipates a feeling of collective joy from the seats in the audience to the performers on stage.
“They’re all brilliant!” she beamed. “They want songs that challenge them. They want songs that challenge the audience… They want to be having these conversations about justice and racial justice, in particular, in our city. They feel very strongly that they are inspired to be a part of the change.”
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