Ella – At Home – FaceTime Portrait

Part of a personal project taking portraits of choristers.

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Ella. Taken during quarantine over FaceTime.

Young Women’s Chorus has been an incredible community in my life over the past six years. It has given me the opportunity to meet incredible people while doing something I love. Even though my last season in YWC was different than expected and we couldn’t physically be together or even truly sing together as a chorus, I was so impressed in how this group gathered, even in times of difficulty, and came together as a community.

 

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Phoebe – At Home – FaceTime Portrait

Part of a personal project taking portraits of choristers.

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Phoebe. Taken during quarantine over FaceTime.

In the last five years my experience in choir has taught me how to trust and love myself, how to lean on others when I need to, and how to uplift fellow women and friends to help them find their inner strength and power. During my time in this organization I found another family and made friendships that will last a lifetime. The deep sense of sisterhood that the Young Women’s Chorus has given me will not soon be forgotten, and I hope to sing with my fellow choristers again in the years to come.

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Hannah – At Home – FaceTime Portrait

Part of a personal project taking portraits of choristers.

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Hannah. Taken during quarantine over FaceTime.

The time I’ve spent with the Young Women’s Chorus has been invaluable. No matter how many years I’ve come back to sing with the chorus, the wonder and excitement of being among so many genuine, passionate, and committed singers has never faded. The community I’ve found at YWC is truly unique; nowhere else have I felt so constantly loved and cared for, and so empowered to do the same for those around me.

The recent shelter-in-place period has made me realize just how special and powerful it is to sing together. There is indescribable beauty in the moments when the harmonies finally click and the separate parts fit just right, a beauty that we unfortunately can’t quite recreate over Zoom… However, as difficult as it has been to adapt to this new situation at times, YWC gives me unwavering hope for the future. I have hope knowing that our music can always find a way to stay alive and flowing, even if that means logging onto a call instead of signing in with the front desk.

After so many years with YWC, I can’t imagine stepping into my next chapter of life without music. Though I remain unsure about many aspects of my future, I know that the healing and comfort of singing with YWC will always stay with me, and inspire me to continue sharing messages and stories through song

 

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Maxine – South Africa – Cape Town

Part of a personal project while on tour in South Africa.

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Maxine. Photo taken in Cape Town, South Africa.

For the past seven years, choir has been an anchor and a joy in my life. I have been singing with the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco for five years, and have had the opportunity to perform beautiful and powerful music all over the country and the world. Being involved in choir has taught me invaluable lessons in musicianship, technique and teamwork.

Choral music requires dozens, sometimes hundreds, of voices to mesh perfectly in order to collectively create something beautiful. Sometimes, the creative achievement is in finding a perfect unison of voices. Other times, the power is in the intricacies of the harmonies. What resonates most for me are pieces where the music’s impact is felt through a complex layering of harmonies, like in Libby Larsen’s, The Womanly Song of God. Performing this piece is a gift. I’ve been lucky enough to have performed this song during two different concert seasons and with each rehearsal and each performance, I am reminded of the healing that music can bring to the world. I feel the majesty of the music resonate within me, within the space, and within the audience. Eight-part vocal harmonies weave with overlapping lines of vocal and body percussion in order to construct a wall of lush, delicate yet powerful sound. It reminds us, the singers, of the awe-inspiring force that lives within us. Letting my voice meld into the compelling whole makes me feel utterly free.

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Sarah – South Africa – Cape Town

Part of a personal project while on tour in South Africa. What piece of music have you learned to love after spending more time with it?

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Sarah. Photo taken in Cape Town, South Africa before the final tour concert.

Something choir has given me that I’m incredibly thankful for is a deeper appreciation of music; not just choral music, but all music. I’ve learned that, in order to really get to know a piece of music that’s not a pop song, a piece of music that is maybe harder to love, you have to spend time with it. The pieces we’ve sung that I love the most are also some of the most difficult, but I love them because I’ve spent countless hours of my life devoted to understanding them, memorizing them, and learning them from the inside out.

An example of this that I have fond memories of is Angelus ad Pastores by Sulpitia Cesis. At first, I thought it was a typical religious piece of choral music, and a bit boring. After spending a whole year with it, and performing it at Carnegie Hall, I really began to appreciate its subtle complexities and beauty. If I hadn’t spent all that time learning and performing it, I never would have realized what a wonderful piece it is. Now I know that to truly appreciate a work of art, you have to put in the effort and the hours to fully understand it.

Choir has also taught me the power of diligence. With enough practice, anything can be achieved, whether it’s learning a language or memorizing a whole opera. But aside from musical skills, choir has also given me something that I’m incredibly grateful for: a community. A group of like-minded people I know I can rely on, who will help me learn a piece or translate a German menu in Austria. I’ve made what I’m sure are life-long friends, who I never would have met without this organization.

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