Whenever Francisco Nuñez’s prize-winning Young People’s Chorus of New York City performs abroad, the choristers finish on a Big Apple note with “Take the A Train” and “New York, New York.”
“We always end with those pieces because they’re New York and we’re New York,” said Nuñez, a Manhattan-born child piano prodigy who in 1988 founded the choir with the goal of making it as multicultural as the city itself.
“The idea is to give kids of all backgrounds an opportunity to meet each other and learn about each other,” said Nuñez, the artistic director.
The choristers, ages 8 to 18, come from different racial, religious and economic walks of life.
“There are kids I have to give MetroCards to, as well as those who go home in private cars,” said Nuñez, who says the young people see harmony in diversity and “it becomes natural to have a friend from a different nationality.”
“Artistically, they’re excellent,” he said of the singers, who have won a slew of awards, including two gold medals at the 2004 Choir Olympics in Bremen, Germany, and first place in 2002 at the International Choral Kathaumixw in Canada.
Natalie Schor, who nominated Nuñez for a Liberty Ambassador Medal, said that through his nonprofit program, international audiences see how the city’s children “are so disciplined, so accomplished, and all the different faces of New York.”
The repertoire of the chorus, which has performed at the reopening of the Statue of Liberty and at last year’s 9/11 commemoration at Ground Zero, ranges from the works of Mozart to Tod Machover and Bright Sheng, as well as folk songs and “finger-snapper” tunes.
Last month, 40 members of the chorus performed in Hiroshima at a special peace concert held 60 years after that city was devastated by an atomic bomb. “It was beautiful for our children,” he said. “It’s gone beyond the music. It’s using music as a peacemaker around the world.”
To audition for the chorus, call (212) 289-7779, extension 11.