Mila – South Africa – Glentana

Part of a personal project while on tour in South Africa. Has singing in a chorus changed you?

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Mila. Photo taken at Glentana, South Africa. The Young Women’s Chorus stopped here on a travel day to feel the Indian Ocean and spot some whales.

These past 6 years of being involved with YWCP have provided me with a safe place to grow, learn, and sing, for which I am eternally grateful. I first joined this organization in 8th grade, 13 years old in Allegro. At the end of the first year I was convinced to audition for YWC and, to my surprise, made it in! After spending so much time listening for little strains of music to come swirling and tumbling up the stairs from the room where that powerful group of women sang together, I was finally going to be one of them, I could sing with them. I was one of those incredible young women, it felt unbelievable, scary, and exhilarating all at once. I didn’t know that I had embarked on a journey of intense self realization and that this choir would be largely responsible for leading me to become a motivated, matured, and empowered young adult.

There is immense value in having something carry through so many different stages of your life so you can see how it changes you but also, how you change it. For me, it was my years in the Young Women’s Choral Projects. The effect this choir has had on me is incalculable, the person I’ve become is so different from who I was on my first day in this program. Although it sometimes feels like I’m a completely new person, I’d like to think I kept some of the old me too. I still laugh a lot, dance and sing, and stumble over my words sometimes when I get too excited. But through choir I’ve also found new and genuine happiness, a mature sense of self, and have become stronger mentally. And I think I’m finally starting to figure out how all of this works in collaboration to make me the most unique and best version of myself. I have always felt like I needed to section off all the different facets of my being, and only show them to individual groups. In choir I learned that I can be all of these things at once, I can be silly and also serious, spontaneous and thought out, this realization set me on the path towards being the authentic me with everyone, something I struggled with since elementary school.

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Olivia – South Africa – Pilanesberg

Part of a personal project while on tour in South Africa. Do you have any special memories of going on choir tours?

Young Women’s Chorus member and graduating senior, Olivia. Photo taken at BBQ dinner inside Pilanesberg Game Reserve. The Chorus spent the day in open vehicle game drives.

My time in choir has been truly inspiring and incredibly rewarding. I have grown so much as an individual these past few years, becoming more confident in my abilities as a vocalist and hardworking as a member of a high-performing group. Choir has provided me the ability to get outside my comfort zone and learn new and challenging music, and has given me a greater appreciation for choral music. The friends that I have made over my six years in YWCP have grown to be some of my best friends and I love that we share such a strong bond thanks to our mutual love of music.

As a member of YWC, I have also been given the privilege to travel with the choir on tour and bring the music we have learned to a different part of the world. The time spent on tour is always so inspiring and getting to travel with such an amazing group and share such amazing music is one of my favorite parts of YWC. Our first concert in South Africa, a joint concert with local choirs in Soweto was by far one of my favorite performances. The sound and energy in the room as we felt the audience’s excitement fill the room was incredible and such a unique and special experience. I love YWCP and I am extremely grateful to choir for helping me grow both as a singer and a young woman, ready to take on the world.

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Michelle – South Africa – Soweto – Holy Cross

Part of a personal project while on tour in South Africa. Has singing in a chorus made you who you are today?

Young Women’s Chorus charter member and graduating senior, Michelle. Photo taken at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Soweto, South Africa. The Young Women’s Chorus participated in Sunday morning service.

“Chorus has been a place where I have grown and developed into the person I am today. I’ve had so many amazing experiences touring around the world with the chorus and have created many life-long friendships with those around me. I truly could not have imagined my last 7 years without chorus. It has been such a grounding force for me and a place where I have been able to share my passion for music with others. I continue to sing not only because of my love of music but also because of the supportive and loving community the girls in this chorus have created. This community has taught me how to be my best self and has encouraged me to lift up those around me as well.”

“YWC has also helped me gain an understanding of the uniting and expressive force that music brings. Whenever we go on tour, I am amazed by the energy and response from the audiences. To see how our singing resonates with people from all around the world gives me hope and joy. YWC has truly opened my heart and mind to new experiences and friendships, and I am forever grateful for the impact this has had on my life.”

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Erol Efendioglu – San Francisco Botanical Garden

Erol Efendioglu – San Francisco Botanical Garden

The next portrait from an ongoing personal project.

Native Sons and Daughters is a photo series that tells a story of the people that live in the city in which they grew up. Each subject chooses a portrait location that is meaningful to them in some way and represents their own connection to the city.

Erol chose to take his portrait at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. He recalled to me how he used to sneak in after hours with his friends to meet at the benches in the Redwood Grove.

Located in Golden Gate Park, Strybing Arboretum opened in 1940. The Garden encompasses 55 acres and contains nearly 9,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. In 2004 the name was changed to San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum.

 

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

 

I grew up in the Inner Sunset district, and live in Polk Gulch now. I attended Montessori pre-school, Town School for Boys from Kindergarten to 8th grade, Lowell High School, and then UC Santa Cruz.

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

 

I chose the Botanical Garden because it was the best secret hang out spot for me and my friends in high school when we wanted to get out of the house. We developed a great game of “King of the Hill” on the benches. Basically, the last person left standing on a bench won.

 

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

joseph fanvu photography native san francisco

 

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Tamlyn – New York – Carnegie Hall

san francisco photography portrait tour chorister

The last entry from a personal project while on tour last month in New York. Who would you be today if not for chorus?

Young Women’s Chorus charter member and graduating senior, Tamlyn. Photo taken before the performance in Carnegie Hall.

“I would not be the person I am today without the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco. I remember walking into the audition room at only twelve years old, a middle schooler, terrified of messing up, and doubting that I would be accepted. Now, I have walked out of the rehearsal room forever, eighteen years old, a high school graduate, still terrified of messing up, but knowing that chorus has changed me forever.

Chorus has given me a voice. It has increased my confidence in my abilities in a world that seeks to tear teenage girls apart. It has helped me realize my power. Through chorus I know that I have the ability to transform others. Because of this chorus I have learned that music is unlike anything else on earth. It has powers beyond explanation. Music can move people to tears, bring people together, and can undoubtedly change the world.”

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