The group had its first rehearsal in Lipkin Theatre last month in preparation for its inaugural holiday concert this Sunday.
“This is a very professional group,” said twelve-year-old Brendan Branosky regarding what surprises first time listeners of the Lehigh Valley Youth Chorus.
With eager faces and crystal voices the children are ready to show NCC that there’s more to the campus community than just finals and textbooks.
The Commuter first introduced readers to the Chorus in October, when the Chorus started its permanent residency in Lipkin Theatre. It’s made up of both returning members from when the group was the Easton Youth Chorus at the Forks Township Community Center, as well as auditions over this past summer. Since then, the kids have been getting to know their new surroundings.
“This is better,” said Antonella Susino, comparing it to school-room singing of past years. In her first year with the LVYC, the 12-year-old has been singing since she was little and says of the Chorus and Lipkin, “It’s more open, more dedicated to the songs. Everyone has their own parts, and I like how the chorus just projects outward.”
Other members shared the same sentiment.
“We have a lot more space,” said 8-year-old second year member Eva Harrington, while her father Scott added that Lipkin is a “big improvement…just look at this room, the facilities.”
The praise resonates through NCC.
“This program speaks to our fundamental role as a ‘College of the Community,” said NCC President Dr. Mark Erikson. “By partnering with the LV Youth Chorus, we lift the caliber and connections of the group, while also introducing them and their families to the broader NCC community.”
Dr. Erikson spoke of how the residency fits in well with the college’s core values, through engagement with the younger community and the vision to help the Chorus’s members forge a life-long connection with NCC while receiving excellent training under the guidance of the LVYC’s Artistic Director and Founder Kelley Atwood.
“Mrs. Atwood has a passion,” said 13-year-old third year veteran Stella Shipman, “and she’s determined to help us become the best we can be.”
“She has a positive way to get the results she wants,” said Bill Nyberg, father of first year member Liam.
“He wouldn’t get the same experience elsewhere.”
Parents expressed similar feelings, ranging from Atwood’s skill of bringing out the children’s talent to how being in the Chorus helps them develop their character, such as Brendan’s mother Rose Branosky.
“It’s taught him not only how to use his voice but how to present himself positively,” she said, as well as praising the move to Northampton.
“Being in the theatre has provided the opportunity to have the instruments available in such a beautiful setting, and it’s more open to the community.”
The instruments are courtesy of not only volunteering parents, but NCC’s own Keith Marks, a general studies sophomore and the Chorus’s resident accompanist.
“It’s a little intimidating,” he said, “because Kelley and Brian are really good, and the kids are so good at what they do.”
So why is coming to the concert so important?
“It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit,” said Rose.
“It’s a great opportunity to be part of the community,” added Nicole D’Andrea, mother of first year singer Ava.
“We’re very motivating,” said Antonella, while Brandon added that “people are amazed by what we can do as kids.”
As first year singer 10-year-old David Broczkowski summarized, “I think if people come, it will be very beautiful.”
The LVYC will make it’s NCC debut with A Concert of Carols, Sunday December 11th at 2 pm in Lipkin Theatre. In lieu of admission patrons are asked to bring a canned food donation for local food pantries.