Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 10th Annual Holiday Choral Concert!

On Thursday, December 17th, the PS22 Chorus performed its 10th Annual Holiday Choral Concert to a very appreciative audience of family and friends! It was a tremendous performance all around, and even included surprise guests from PS22's past and future! This post includes some of the extraordinary highlights from the performance! As you will no doubt see for yourselves, the kids made the event truly unforgettable!

The festivities began with the fourth grade chorus (pictured above), who absolutely rocked their first major performance, and definitely provided strong evidence that the PS22 Chorus will be rocking the universe for a long time to come! They sang 5 holiday selections and definitely left the audience hungry for more!

When the fifth graders took the stage, everybody was ready for something big, and the kids definitely delivered!! Soloists, D'ahvionne ("This Christmas"), Brielle ("Halo" & "Star Of Wonder"), Eddie & Leah ("Wintersong"), Kayla S. & Justin F. ("Fireflies") Albert & Jasmin ("O Holy Night"), and Karinna & Alyssa O. ("Run This Town") were all in top form, and each gave their respective performances some memorable moments! Check out 8 selections from the fifth grade below!

"This Christmas" by Donnie Hathoway

"Halo" by Beyonce

"Wintersong" by Sarah McLachlan

"O Holy Night" Traditional

"Fireflies" by Owl City

"A Winter's Carol" by Tori Amos

"Run This Town" by Jay-Z, Rihanna, & Kanye West

But the show also had some very special surprises, starting with our biggest voice in the littlest package, second-grader Alicea!!! Alicea sang at our holiday performance just 2 years ago and almost stole the show then, just as she did this year! Check out an incredible PS22 voice of the future below!

The PS22 Chorus also welcomed back to the stage, 2009 chorus superstar, Allie, who performed a stunning version of "A Silent Night With You" by Tori Amos with the 2010-ers. It was definitely one of the evening's highlights!

Another stunner came from phenom-alum Ben, who reprised one of my all-time favorite solo performances from back in his hey day with the PS22 Chorus of 2005! The song is "Not Guilty" by John P. Kees & The New Life Choir, and Ben sings it like it's his. A revelation for sure!

We finished the alumni performances with this reprise from 2003's holiday show, "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter into "(Back Door) Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt. And to say that Clive & Shaina completely and thoroughly rocked the house, would be a resounding understatement!! An unforgettable show closer!

Of course every great show has its low points, and the PS22 Chorus definitely lived up to the annual tradition of completely butchering its delivery of "Happy Birthday" to a pained music teacher. Of course it's the thought that counts, but as you can see in the pic below, I did my best to prevent the impending debacle. Needless to say, it was a lost cause....

Definitely an amazing night of music and laughter! It's hard to believe we've been at this gig for 10 years now, when every year still feels so new and fresh. But this was no doubt the absolute perfect way to celebrate this milestone night, with old friends and new, and one can only imagine what the next 10 years will bring! In the meantime, enjoy some more great pics, courtesy of my dad.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

PS22 Chorus #2 Top Story of 2009!

Congratulations to the PS22 Chorus, voted the #2 Top Entertainment story of Staten Island of 2009 in an online poll for the Staten Island Advance! What a year!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

PS22 Chorus Caroling at Nana's!

On Tuesday, The PS22 Chorus of 2010 brought a big ray of sunshine along to the seniors at Sunrise Assisted Living in Staten Island! One of those seniors was my Nana, so it was incredibly touching to see how much of an impact the kids had on her and her friends. It was a beautiful morning with lots of singing, smiling, and hugs! The new group has never made me more proud, and watching the kids with the seniors was one of the the most completely heart-warming things I'd ever seen. Check out the video below!

The Staten Island Advance was on hand to help capture the event, and they included a nice pic and caption in Wednesday's edition. The pic was also posted on SILive.com, and you can see it in better quality there.

The kids sang every song we could possibly think of inside and out of our repertoire! The kids smiling and animated faces lit up those of the seniors in the audience, and it was a joy to behold. The kids were even treated to a beautiful performance of "Ave Maria" by Shauna, one of the directors at Sunrise, and got a spontaneous hug from Bruce! Another unforgettable moment!

But the undisputed highlight of this performance was mingling with the residents of Sunrise after the singing. Chorus member Victor was even nice enough to bring and pass around cookies and chocolate that he brought for the occasion. Some of the seniors said it was the best day of their lives! What a wonderful gift the PS22 Chorus gave to their elders this holiday season. See more evidence below! Thanks to Ms. Lisa for the video of the kids singing and Mrs. Johnson for the pics!

Ben Returns!

Former chorus member Ben returned to sing at our winter concert last week and almost stole the show! Before the performance, we were treated to a special rendition of "O Holy Night" by this incredible prodigy. What a talent!!

Tomorrow on THE TODAY SHOW!

The PS 22 Chorus will be making their final national television appearance of the year tomorrow morning on NBC's The Today show. They will be airing a prerecorded version of the kids' version of “O Holy Night”, a song originally requested by my dad, and the chorus gave another absolutely stunning performance. The segment is supposed to be on sometime during the 9 o’clock hour but to be safe you might want to record (or watch) the whole thing.

Here’s a version from the holiday concert the kids put on last week (full post about that coming soon) while you wait. Enjoy!

UPDATE 12/25: I know many were disappointed not to see the kids on this morning's broadcast. According to one of the producers, as The Today Show is broadcast nationally, some stations went to local news/weather during the chorus segment. Unfortunately, this was the case here in the tri-state area. That's show biz I guess! The producer was kind enough to offer to send a DVD of the segment. I'm hoping NBC will allow us to post it for all of us who didn't get to see it air.

Time Warner Holiday Cable Concert!

To our local fans: tune in today and tomorrow to Staten Island's Time Warner Cable Channel 76 to catch the PS22 Chorus of 2010's holiday performance that we recorded a few weeks ago specifically for them. They will be airing PS22's performance, along with the other 14 local schools that participated in this annual tradition, tonight and all day tomorrow.

The kids performed 5 selections including "Fireflies" by Owl City, "Come Sail Away" by Styx, "A Winter's Carol" by Tori Amos, "Halo" by Beyonce, & the Christmas Traditional "O Holy Night."

The holiday concerts will air tonight from 6:00 PM through midnight repeatedly, and then tomorrow from 9:00 AM to midnight. It's also available right now on demand in the Special Events menu on SI On Demand Channel 1111. Check it!! And thanks to Ms. Lisa for the beautiful pics!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How Much Do We Love Ashton Kutcher?

The answer to the post title is: Apparently as much as Ashton Kutcher himself seems to love the PS22 Chorus! More thanks go to Ashton, who has proven to be one of our biggest supporters, as he links yet again to his favorite fifth graders on his Twitter page! This time it's the video of the kids singing "Star Of Wonder" by Tori Amos, which he also tweeted about only 4 days earlier! For more of Ashton's PS22's tweets, click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

PS22 Chorus on HGTV Tomorrow!!

As Eddie, in the picture above, gets prepared for his interview to be featured on HGTV, so must we, because it will be airing tomorrow, Sunday, December 20, at 8:00 PM across the nation on the HGTV network! (Available in High Definition!) The program is called WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS 2009 and the PS22 Chorus of 2010 will be featured prominently. One of the producers even admitted that the PS22 Chorus contribution was her favorite part of the program! So we're very excited about this! HGTV followed the kids for a behind-the-scenes view of our experience before and after singing for President Obama at The National Tree Lighting ceremony. Chorus member Julian and his mom were even interviewed at home! So we have every expectation that tomorrow's broadcast will provide a special and unique glimpse at our amazing kids, in action and at ease. Tune in!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Proud to present our last new full chorus debut for 2009 with this beautiful song by beautiful singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan called "Wintersong." Soloists Eddie & Leah together are a revelation, and harmonize beautifully together. And the chorus sings this with such mature sensitivity. Just breathtaking....

UPDATE: A new and improved version from our holiday show performance for the fifth grade classes on the morning of December 17th.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

LX New York Footage Online!

LX New York has added the PS22 Chorus segment that aired yesterday in the Tri-State area on NBC to their website for all to see. Check it out below, and get an inside look at the young stars of the PS22 Chorus of 2010!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Star Of Wonder

Here is our final offering from the amazing new album MIDWINTER GRACES by Tori Amos. The song is "Star of Wonder," which is Tori's adaptation of the Christmas traditional, "We Three Kings." Brielle gives another winning performance, and the chorus adds its magic touch to the proceedings. Love this song, and this version.

UPDATE: Thanks to our friend Ashton Kutcher for tweeting and linking to this video on his Twitter page! For more of Ashton's PS22 tweets, start here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

PS22 Chorus on LX New York!!

On Friday, the PS22 Chorus of 2010 had a shoot with LX New York, the new talk/variety show which airs on NBC at 5:00 PM in the tri-state area (New York/New Jersey & Connecticut). The PS22 Chorus will be appearing on tomorrow's (Tuesday's) broadcast!! We were also advised to set those TIVOS a few minutes early, as the show starts airing usually about 2 minutes before the hour, and the chorus segment will probably be the first feature that airs.

Thanks to LX New York and correspondent Ben Aaron (pictured in the photos above & below) for this awesome bit of exposure for the new group! And more exciting TV appearances are soon to be announced, so stay tuned....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tori Amos Praises PS22's Winter's Carol

Thanks to friend-of-the-chorus (and personal hero) Tori Amos for her beautiful praise of the PS22 Chorus version of her brilliant song, "A Winter's Carol," during an interview with MusicRadar. In it, she says, "I was in tears when I saw the children singing it...." Check out the PS22 excerpt from the interview below, which was kindly provided by the MusicRadar website.

Vote PS22 Chorus as Story Of The Year!

SILive.com is having people vote on Staten Island's Entertainment Story of the Year, with the PS22 Chorus as a contender! Make sure you head on over to their site and vote! (No registration required.) The winning stories will appear in the Staten Island Advance on December 27th.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy "Chanukah Chanukah"

Here is a beautiful Chanukah song that was a childhood favorite of mine. (I remember playing it on the piano when I was even younger than these guys!) The PS22 Chorus of 2010 makes it even better, obviously. Morris The Cat would be proud! Happy Chanukah from PS22!!

O Holy Night

A beautiful version of this Christmas classic, and one of my favorite arrangements on the kids. I think you'll agree the PS22 Chorus of 2010 outdid themselves on this one! And Jasmin & Albert make a great team! Way to nail the money note at the end!! Just beautiful all around....

And it didn't take long for one of our most significant supporters, Ashton Kutcher, to link to this video on his Twitter page! Big thanks to him! (For more Ashton tweets, start here.)

Also proud to be able to say that this video scored a YouTube honor within a day of its being posted, #69 Top Rated Music Video of the day!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PS22 Chorus sings for Obama!!

I know this post is long overdue, but here goes! As noted in the caption of the above pic from page 8 of last Friday's Daily News (see above pic), the PS22 Chorus of 2010 had the most prestigious honor of singing for President Barack Obama the first family, and Vice President Joe Biden at the first-ever televised National Tree Lighting 2009 in President's Park in Washington D.C.! It will be airing all throughout the month of December on different PBS stations across the country. Check your local listings! The kids sang with Grammy-winning hip hop artist Common and performed a rockin' version of "This Christmas" by Donnie Hathoway. Check it out below!

And they were in great company! Also performing/appearing were Sheryl Crow, Jordin Sparks, Ray LaMontagne, and the evening's MC, American Idol judge Randy Jackson! You can check out some of our behind-the-scenes footage (including the soundcheck, and meeting up with Common, Jordin Sparks, and Randy Jackson!) in this video below!

HGTV was also on hand to film the festivities for a White House Christmas special of their own. The group (and particularly chorus member Julian), was followed by HGTV cameras for an inside look at our amazing experience in D.C.!

When we arrived in Washington, the kids were escorted into President's Park and went right over to do a soundcheck (seen in the above video). Almost immediately they met their collaborative partner, Common! And it was instant musical chemistry in effect! (Our science teacher Mrs. Johnson ought to have appreciated that.)

Chorus member Brielle completely tore it up, despite the fact that she was sick! Munching on Halls all day was probably a good thing! Everyone on hand was blown away by this amazing young lady, and her equally amazing cohorts!

Common couldn't get enough of the PS22 Chorus kids, and spent all of the down time hanging with them. No airs about this man. He is an amazingly generous spirit, and a generous performer as well, as evidenced by the performance. I can't really say enough great things about him. And celebrity-sniffer Ethan assures us he smells good too!

While at soundcheck, the kids also met Randy Jackson, whose "critique" of PS22 was something even Simon Cowell wouldn't dare argue with.... "The youngest. The hottest. The coolest."

And speaking of American Idol, Jordin Sparks just happened to be passing by as we were coming in too. So the kids got to say hello to her as she wished them a good performance! She also let us know that she was going to be the one introducing the chorus on the show!

After soundcheck, we headed over to lunch at ESPN Zone, where the kids had a blast!! They were served sliders, chicken fingers, and baked ziti by their teachers and got to play in the ultra-cool gameroom downstairs for about an hour! KID HEAVEN, as you can plainly see!!

After lunch, we walked back to the park and took in some of the sights along the way! The city looked fantastic and the kids enjoyed seeing some of the famous landmarks!

So when it was time for the main event, everyone was all charged up and ready to hit the stage! And the kids completely rocked it! Brielle, the chorus and our buddy Common pulled off a fantastic and memorable performance for President Obama! It was completely surreal being on that stage, waving to him and the first family before and after the performance, and seeing their delighted faces! A once in a lifetime! And you can see the complete performance on the National Tree website. The kids look and sound fantastic and it's something they can always look back on with enormous pride.

Thanks to Ms. Lisa, Ms. Laurie, Mrs. Johnson, Ms. Massimo, Mr. B's dad, and those people who sent me great pics they found on the web that helped create this blog post! More pics below: