Hampshire Young People’s Chorus: A Generation of New Musicians (2023)

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.

An insight into a YPC rehearsal. Watch as the group works through “Barn Dance” by Richard E. McKee.
K.C. Conlan talks about how YPC started.
K.C. Conlan talks about her partnership with Reka Peterson.
Watch as K.C. Conlan and Reka Peterson work through a challenging section with the singers.
K.C. Conlan explains the time demands on children and how that interferes with choir rehearsal.
Conductor K.C. Conlan addresses the challenge of commitment and the importance of music.
Reka Peterson emphasizes that YPC welcomes anyone who loves to sing.
Reka Peterson speaks about YPC bringing music back into families’ households.
K.C. Conlan talks about choirs being a great place for kids who are shy or might be hesitant to try out for a show or sing a solo.
K.C. Conlan talks about the YPC family and the lessons you learn from choir.
K.C. Conlan remembers the musical experience that won her over as a child.
Meet a member of YPC.
Learn about a member’s favorite part of YPC and what she has learned from YPC.
K.C. Conlan reflects on the growth by the kids from the beginning of the year to the end.
Reka Peterson impresses the importance of teaching kids to sing with intention.
K.C. Conlan speaks about working theory into rehearsals.
Hear from a student’s perspective how she balances choir and other extracurricular activities.
Reka Peterson explains why bringing music to the singers’ schools is so rewarding.
Reka Peterson speaks about the importance of collaboration with other groups while K.C. rehearses a piece for an upcoming collaboration.
A member of YPC shares her favorite piece and why she likes singing with other people.
K.C. Conlan explains the initial response to Covid from YPC.
K.C. Conlan recounts the projects YPC took on during the Covid.
Trials and tribulations of returning to in person rehearsals culminating in the first concert back!
Listen as a member describes her favorite memory of YPC and how she sees music continuing to be a part of her life.