Stuyvesant Chorus Performs at Lincoln Center

Stuyvesant’s Oratorio Choir was invited by Distinguished Concerts

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By Zoey Marcus

 Stuyvesant’s Oratorio Choir performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in association with Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) at Lincoln Center on May 26. The Stuyvesant chorus performed the Süssmayr version of Mozart’s Requiem for the Spring Choral Concert and previously worked with Lincoln Center, and they were invited to sing with DCINY for the international performance of the Requim’s Levin version at Lincoln Center.

Lincoln Center is a prestigious home to various renowned performing arts organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Chamber Music Society.  “This was my second performance at [Lincoln Center], and honestly, I felt pretty lucky. Not many people get to perform at Lincoln Center, and you have to imagine so many people coming to our concert that weren’t affiliated with us at all,” junior Kishi Wijaya said.

In fact, both national and international performers participated in the concert. “There were three international singers present with us—all from Britain. A number of church, community, and other choirs from across the country joined us, hailing from exotic places like North Carolina and Texas,” senior and Chorus Student Conductor Brandon Jeung Phillips said.

Phillips was assigned by Music Coordinator Liliya Shamazov to teach the Levin rendition to the Oratorio Choir. “I divided the chorus into sectionals, which is where either one of some combinations of the four sections—soprano, alto, tenor, bass—go into a separate space to work on their part(s) before combining together,” Phillips said. “The following day, depending on how ready I felt they were, I would either do two-part sectionals, putting the outer voices and inner voices in separate groups or the upper and lower voices, or putting the four parts together.”

Despite having previously performed a version of Mozart’s Requiem, there were some difficulties in learning the newer version for the Lincoln Center concert. “I wish we could have [had] a little more time to prepare because in school since we performed a different version, some parts were difficult to adapt to in the newer version,” junior Pari Patni said. 

Due to the prestige of the performance, some chorus members found the rehearsals with DCINY after practices at Stuyvesant to be especially rigorous. “The [DCINY] conductor [Jonathon Griffith] was actually a co-founder of DCINY, so he held us to a high standard. So the rehearsals were very rigorous, but I found them really important and helpful. They definitely did improve the way we sounded,” Patni said.

While performing was a tiring experience, chorus members found said new experiences incredibly rewarding. “My arms really hurt. So did my feet. But it also felt really exhilarating because Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall is an amazing place to perform in,” Wijaya said. “There was someone behind me who was also incredibly good at his part, which was refreshing since it was really different to what I’m used to hearing in our choir.”

Since the performance featured individuals of various international backgrounds, students were able to bond with a variety of groups over their personal experiences with music. “One of my favorite moments was when I brought a piece of my Stuy Chorus experience, the Glee Club I founded this year, to DCINY’s backstage,” Phillips said. “People from different groups started joining in to sing ‘Perfect’ and ‘A Million Dreams’ with us, which is how I got to meet so many of them.”

Overall, the event was highly enjoyable for members of the Oratorio Choir due to the diversity of performers and audience members. “I always love performing with DCINY at Lincoln Center because it’s such a different experience than performing at school. There’s a wider range in audience and performers,” Patni said. “My favorite part was meeting all the other singers because they come from different states and even from different countries such as the UK. There were a few people who came from Australia.”