Hi, BCC community! My name is Natalia, I'm seventeen years old and this is my second year in BCC's Premier Choir.
I first heard about BCC through one of my friends, Lila. I joined because I was amazed with the diversity, opportunity, and amazing talent that this group had to offer, and on my first rehearsal I was introduced to BCC's unique ability to incorporate social justice into its mission. Having come from a classical music background, I never experienced music as a social justice tool, but now I am proud to say that I am a part of an organization that promotes social peace through music.
Since joining BCC, the community has become like a second home to me. Everyone is so supportive of each other and are mutually connected through our common interest in music. I've become best friends with the people in my choir, and even if we can't often see each other outside or rehearsal because of the long distance, I know that the people I've met here will stay near and dear to my heart for years to come.
One of my most memorable moments in the choir was after we returned from our tour to London to participate in the International Youth Choir Festival and were reflecting on our trip. A conversation was started about musical appropriation and to what extent a particular group has the right to sing music that does not necessarily "belong" to them. Can an American choir sing music from China, or South Africa? Can an all-white choir sing gospel? I remember being puzzled by this question, because as I've come to learn, so much of the music we know is simply interpretation and rewriting of other musical styles. For example, Cuba, which is hailed for its musical culture, has music that combined African and Spanish styles. This interaction invited me to question previous beliefs about appropriation and cultural boundaries, which is why I value and appreciate the time that the group puts into talking about issues that are important to us.
(In case you missed it, read a reflection on the International Youth Choir Festival from London Youth Choir Artistic Director Rachel Staunton)
Being in this group not only teaches me music, but also has taught me how to listen, how to be supportive and encouraging to others, and most importantly it has taught me to be aware of myself and my purpose in life as I continue beyond this chapter in life. BCC has been everything I've dreamed of and more, and I could not be more thankful to my friends, family, and staff for this experience.