Youth chorus turns 20

The Brooklyn Paper
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The chorus may no longer be teenaged — but the kids still are.

The renowned Brooklyn Youth Chorus is turning 20, and celebrating its anniversary with a Spring concert at Roulette in Boerum Hill where its more than 300 students will sing powerful renditions of indie-classical songs from artists such as Bryce Dessner of the National.

But don’t be surprised if their technical acuity and powerful voices make you lose sight of the fact that you’re listening to children, some as young as eight.

“When you listen to them, you forget you’re working with children,” said Dianne Berkun, the chorus’s founder and director. “But, when you’re working with them, you don’t forget it — the way they approach things can be so intense and so fully engaged.”

The Chorus has performed with the likes of Elton John and John Legend and even won a Grammy in 2005 for their work on John Adams’s “On the Transmigration of Souls” classical album — but its director says there’s still nothing like a concert on its own turf.

“As much as the chorus performs in Manhattan, when you get those opportunities to really celebrate our Brooklyn roots it has a special feeling about it,” said Berkun. “We’re really excited to be part of this renaissance in the borough.”

At Roulette, the chorus will be broken into groups by skill level and age and play a range of musical styles — something the group is known for.

“Part of our message that we’re always trying to get out is that there is this unexpected element and versatility that affords us the ability to sing any type of music well,” said Berkun. “And our programming tends to play that up.”

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Roulette [509 Atlantic Avenue at Third Avenue in Downtown, (212) 219–8242]. May 19, 7:30 pm. An alternate program will be performed on May 18.Visit

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 5:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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