Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Message To My Chorus of 2006-7......

To My Chorus,

I've been sitting here looking over the blog tonight, watching, listening, and reading some of your comments. And I needed to post this farewell message to you. You are, as it says in the blog description, "extraordinary little people." (Jordan, not so little, but just as extraordinary! Just stop growing kid -- it's getting me annoyed....) I'm watching the videos, and I am filled with pride to behold your magnificence as you shine your brightest! I've been blessed this year with a group that really understood the magic of the music. You've been such a pleasure to work with. You're so incredibly talented!!!

But I know you guys understand that you don't sound like you do simply because of your extreme talent. It was through hard work, dedication, and the respect you showed to the music. Most importantly, it was heart and soul -- of which you have demonstrated time and time again that you have more than I would have ever thought humanly possible! And you have become my second family.

It's not easy for 65 individuals to merge into 1 powerful voice. But you did. And look what has happened!! The results of your hard work have earned you international attention and acclaim!! You don't know how many requests from all over the world I've received for a PS22 Chorus CD! You've been a featured news item in major media such as USA TODAY, VH1, and The DAILY NEWS! You sang with a Latin Grammy-nominated artist, LENA! You were invited to sing by Academy Award winner MARCIA GAY HARDEN at her HOUSE!!! You sang for and with the internationally famous and respected (and, as you know, my favorite) musician who has sold millions of CDs, TORI AMOS!!! You made her cry with your soulful singing.

Tyrell, I'll never forget when you said on the bus ride home from the Tori Amos trip, after saying that it was the best day of your life. You said to me, "....and seeing you -- I thought you were going to faint." You made me understand that a large part of your joy that day, aside from meeting the incredible Tori, was you taking pleasure in witnessing my pleasure, understanding how much this meant to me personally. And I know the rest of you felt the same. This may surprise you chorus, but that brought me my greatest happiness that day. The generosity of spirit is what touches me and what I will miss most about this chorus.

Zaudita, neither will I forget what you said about Tori taking time out to meet with us on that same bus ride. You said, "nobody in the world would do that for kids like us." Dita, you and all the chorus have inspired so many. Kids like you are what gives the world hope for a better tomorrow. You guys really have no idea how special you are. I suppose modesty is a large part of your appeal to all who are lucky enough to see/hear you perform, but I need you to know that you are some of the most amazing human beings I've ever come across -- big or small. You have made me so proud and have allowed me to share in experiences that will be memories that will last forever-- memories enough for a lifetime, and only in one short year.

Remember when times get tough, as times can get tough (I know you are all wise enough to know this) -- you have a gift, a power. Drawing on that power can get you through anything. Never forget that. Making music has gotten me through some of the toughest times of my life. The music you made has touched so many lives already, and your lives are only just beginning. Nothing's better in this world than bringing happiness to people. You've brought so much of it to so many, and will continue to bring more to many more through the blog. That's what this chorus thing is all about. You've been blessed and have been a blessing to others, to the community, to your families, and certainly to me. Understand your power. Take pride in it, but use it wisely and charitably. Continue to brighten lives and make your beautiful music sing its way into the heart of the world.

So thank you chorus. I will miss you so much...... even you Isaiah. ;)

Love & Respect To The Best Chorus There Ever Was,
Mr. B

P.S. Keep checking the blog, guys! I'll be posting the audio recordings we did last week very soon -- including the Tori Amos duets!!! As you know, THEY SOUND GREAT!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The End Of An Era...... The PS22 5th Grade Final Assembly Of 2007

It was an especially emotional graduation this year, saying goodbye to this fifth grade graduating class. The students at P.S.22 have had so many accomplishments throughout the years, but this was indeed a standout group of kids. We will miss them immensely.

And the emotionalism of the day was compounded by the fact that we are also saying goodbye to our dynamic principal, Mrs. Karina Costantino, who is moving on to become a district superintendent in Brooklyn.

The chorus and I are particularly sad to see Mrs. Costantino leave, because she has been an ardent supporter of the arts, and the chorus's self-proclaimed #1 fan. It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Mrs. Costantino, but we know she will go on to do more good for the community, only now on a much larger scale. We know she will be met with the same love and respect in her new position that she has earned for herself as principal of P.S.22.

But the mood wasn't all somber. In addition to being a time of reflection, this year's graduation also proved to be a joyous celebration of accomplishments!

The PS22 chorus provided 2 upbeat farewell numbers that would leave everybody "Bouncing Off Clouds!" Eric and the chorus also reminded us that even though big changes are to come, "I Will Survive!"

We also had the pleasure of welcoming back Jasmine, our distinguished graduate, who left P.S.22 only 5 years ago to become the president and C.E.O. of her own line of all-natural hair and skin products, EDEN Bodyworks! Jasmine has appeared on Oprah, Donny Deutch, and Nightline, as one of the most prominent in a new wave of young entrepeneurs in America! You can check out Jasmine's unbelievable accomplishment in establishing her vision, as well as her appearances on the aforementioned television shows on her website, Eden Bodyworks. We thank Jasmine for attending this year's final assembly, and for giving our graduates a speech that was truly inspiring. We were also duly honored to hear that she attributes much of her success to some core values she learned at P.S.22. Jasmine, you are a wonderful role model to all -- we are so proud of you.

Then it was time for the entire 5th grade class to sing their graduation songs. First, Tyrell rocked the house with his rendition of the P.S.22 rap! His upbeat performance had the whole audience clapping along joyfully!

Chaylene and Zaudita made a beautiful speech, dedicating our farewell song, Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up", to Mrs. Costantino. Mariama belted out the solo and moved everyone to tears and thunderous applause.


Friday, June 22, 2007

PS22 CHORUS Featured on, "the magazine and community for the urban and new urban parent"

The chorus teacher who sang with Tori Amos: a interview.

The link above will take you to a beautifully written article/interview by one of the many new fans of the PS22 CHORUS, Gwynne Watkins from the amazing site, BABBLE.COM. It's a magazine/site for new and urban parents. We thank Gwynne and for giving our kids even more well-deserved exposure and cyber-attention. And the chorus and I particularly thank you for capturing the "soul" of the chorus. (AND I'm sure Mrs. B (my mom) will also very much appreciate "the chorus teacher with a killer smile" remark..... Okay, I admit, I liked it too.... :) AND NO COMMENTS TYRELL!!!!!!)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The 22 Chorus Blog Hits Another Milestone!

Today our website received it's 25,000th visitor!! We've come a long way since we started the blog in September! Congrats, posse!! People all over the world are taking notice!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PS22's Production Of The Student-Written Musical, "A 14 Carrot Fairytale" Premieres Tomorrow!

Once upon a time.... a school in Staten Island came together to write a fairy tale. The story (without giving away too much) has many important messages underlying its musical-comedy delivery. The play serves as a reminder not to judge a book by its cover, and inspires you to find and follow your own path in life, despite what others might think is best for you. Of course there will also be laughs aplenty, as well as an "eye-candy" set, created by Ms. Megan Massimo & Ms. Valerie LiPuma!! We thank all the children and teachers who put their hearts and souls into this project, and we can't wait to share it with you all. After you see it, we guarantee you'll be feeling happily ever after....

Rabbit or Rab-beast?

The Allisnaker!!!! (Part Alligator, Part Snake, Part Akash!)

Jester Gigolo

Peasant or Princess?

Chef E. Coli Meets The Men In Black!

Akira casts a spell over the audience!

Monday, June 04, 2007

PS22 Chorus Is Big News Overseas! (UPDATED!!)

This weekend I was contacted by reporter Martin Jan Stepanek from who was interested in doing a feature on the P.S.22 Chorus. Mr. Stepanek is from a major news distributor in Austria/Germany. Below is just a portion of the article, which was posted this morning, and can be read in its entirety at: Mr. Stepanek has just informed me that the article was picked up by other media distributors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland! Pretty cool, chorus posse! You're an international phenomenon!!!! Below is the article and the translation.

(Click article to enlarge)

And big, BIG thanks to ENOMIS at the FEELTHEWORD TORI AMOS FORUM for translating the article!

YouTube Makes It Possible – Private Audience With Famous Musician Tori Amos

Videos of school choir inspire American singer to spontaneous performance

New York – For the pupils of a school in New York, a dream came true. Inspired by the school choir videos which music teacher Gregg Breinberg had posted on YouTube and the choir’s blog, famous musician Tori Amos decided to meet up for a spontaneous performance with the children. They had been performing the music of the American artist for several years, and they had been putting their rehearsals and performances on the internet. After being sent an email from a Tori Amos fan-site about the chorus, the management of Tori Amos took notice and made the singer aware of it.

Impressed by the YouTube performances, Amos followed the suggestion of her label to welcome the school choir in the Sony building in Manhattan. After the kids together with their music teacher sang one of the new songs from her current album “American Doll Posse” the singer became a choirmaster herself singing with the astounded nine-to-twelve-years-olds a duet. “The idea for the blog emerged because fans of Tori Amos on the internet forums asked for them repeatedly,” says Breinberg in an interview with Pressetext. “Of course one hopes in the back of one's mind that Tori Amos will see these videos one day. But for it to actually happen, and to lead to such a special meeting for all involved - one doesn’t even dare to think about it,” says Breinberg.

The music teacher and the choir are not just amazed about their meeting with the singer but also about the feedback their performances have gotten on the internet. According to Breinberg, the YouTube videos of the choir have been played 400.000 times by now and the popularity of their own blog has skyrocketed since people became aware of the special gig. Again, YouTube became the catalyst since the performance was filmed with a handheld camera and posted on the internet.

Tori Amos, who has sold twelve million records and has had several top tens, is one of the most successful musicans of recent years. To promote her new CD, the American artist, who lives in England, is currently touring Europe. The German leg of the tour starts today, Monday, in Hamburg. Other performances will take the artist to Munich, Düsseldorf and Berlin. The Bösendorfer- enamoured musician will be in Vienna on 8 June. At the end of June it is Graz’s and Zurich’s turn.