Cincinnati Youth Choir to perform UNICEF concert in DC

The Cincinnati Youth Choir has long committed to providing local, national and international opportunities to its talented young musicians. Later this June, that mission will continue when 30 members of its celebrated Bel Canto choir perform alongside the Young Naperville Singers (Illinois) and the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City in the nation’s capital.

Overall, the groups will perform at least three performances in Washington, D.C., including “Songs from the Heartland: Youth Supporting UNICEF” on June 13.

The concert at National Presbyterian Church, presented by Perform America, will benefit UNICEF USA, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, which provides humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide.

Cincinnati Youth Choir performs during a Christmas concert in 2023. (Photo by Steve Ziegelmeyer)

Pay-what-you-will tickets to the “Songs from the Heartland” concert are available online. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

The choirs will also sing together on the steps of the Capitol the morning of June 13, at 10:30 a.m. and at the World War II Memorial on June 14.

“It’s an honor to be selected to perform in the nation’s capital,” said Robyn Lana, CYC’s founder and managing artistic director.

Providing a national stage for local talent

The Cincinnati Youth Choir is an educationally based choral ensemble program for singers in first through 12 grades. Participants learn healthy vocal technique, sight-reading, music history and music theory while also performing with some of the finest orchestras and musicians in the world. CYC has a longstanding ensemble-in-residence in the esteemed University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Lana noted that taking part in tours and festivals such as those presented by Perform America play an important role in highlighting the musical gifts of its talented student performers.

Since the company’s founding in 1993, CYC singers have toured Italy, Japan, China, Scandinavia, England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Canada and across the U.S.

In addition to the Washington, D.C. tour, CYC members will travel to New York City later this spring to participate in a show at Carnegie Hall on June 17. The festival choir will consist of Bel Canto singers as well as other youth performers from around the country.

Bel Canto is CYC’s top choir. To earn admission to the group, singers must audition or receive a recommendation from a CYC conductor. All 51 members of Bel Canto had the option to join the tour.

CYC’s Con Brio choir will be in Columbus, Ind. this October for the annual Hoosier Hills Festival.

“Cincinnati Youth Choir is committed to providing opportunities for our singers to meet people throughout the United States and internationally to build a broader sense of community,” said Lana, who’ll conduct the festival choir at Carnegie Hall.

A harmonious relationship

CYC is no stranger to either the Young Naperville Singers or the Allegro Choirs.

Lana and the other choir directors, Christy Elsner and Angie Johnson, first connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lana described the choirs as providing important support for each other in the midst of potentially catastrophic shutdowns and canceled performances.

Recently, the choirs’ relationship has extended to the stage. They’ve performed together several times, including at Carnegie Hall in 2022.

“While apart by miles, our programs are similar in structure and expectations,” said Elsner, the founding artistic director of the Allegro Choirs.

“We push our singers for excellence musically and focus on excellence in leadership skills and character,” she continued. “When our singers sang the first couple of measures at the opening Carnegie Hall rehearsal in 2022, it was like the heavens opened.”

For the upcoming Songs from the Heartland performance, the choirs will perform a diverse catalog of songs and musical genres, from reflective and soulful works to uplifting gospel tunes. 

Together, they’ll perform a seven-song program – “Be Like the Bird” by Abbie Betinis, “Ukuthula African Prayer for Peace” by Andre van der Merwe, “Hope Lingers On” by Andrea Ramsey, “Amazing Grace” arranged by Lee Kesselman, “Will the Circle” arranged by J. David Moore, “By Night” by Elaine Hagenberg, and “I Sing Because I’m Happy” arranged by Rollo Dilworth. 

Each group will also have their own program. Details will be available closer to the performance.

“These are some of the finest, most artistic and gloriously trained youth choirs in the country,” Lana said. “Having them together again is simply not-to-be-missed.”

Cincinnati Youth Choir

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