The young singers gather around the piano as they work through a tough section of their newest piece. Their conductors, K.C. Conlan and Reka Peterson, help them, reviewing the music in different ways each time until it clicks in their heads. Suddenly, angelic music bursts from the once-uncertain chaos. The music floats through the open windows of the sanctuary of Amherst South Congregational Church and out into the town.
Nested in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley, the Hampshire Young People’s Chorus (YPC) has helped kids develop an understanding and love of music since 1999. Kids travel from across the valley to meet weekly and delve into music in different languages, from across the world, and spanning time periods.
Many of the children are rushing right from school or sports practice to choir rehearsal and then off to yet another music lesson or activity afterwards. For them, this activity is one of many, but the value of their work will only become more apparent to them as they grow older. Each week, they learn the fundamentals of music, and, at the same time, challenge their brains by learning new rhythms and harmonies.
When they leave choir rehearsal, the music follows them home as they practice in front of their families, hum around their friends, and share music with their community. In a more formal way, YPC shares music with a broader audience by taking their choirs on tours and collaborating with local groups and international choirs. As they grapple with the kids’ competing activities and priorities, they remain steadfast in their mission of providing kids with musical exposure and high level training, fostering a love and appreciation for music starting at any age.