It's too easy, when making broad statements about young people, to focus on the negative--all they do is look down at their phones...their teachers...their parents...
The last two days made any of that stern generalizing impossible.
Sunday, I heard the fabulous Chorus of Westerly (Rhode Island) in concert. A beautiful program--Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Ola Gjeilo Dark Night of the Soul, Dawson spiritual arrangments, and more. The music was sung at a very high level by this "amateur" chorus. And mixed into the group, looking out at us with lively eyes and confident voices, were dozens of young singers from age 8 to 18. Singing every note right along with the adults. This group has always been inter-generational, which makes it unique in the choral world. I sang in this chorus as a child, and know how amazing it feels to be a part of something so special. It teaches children about great music through immersion and performance, not dry lecture. And it works. There are singers in the group who started over 50 years ago as young ones. It's a powerful, magical chemistry.
Monday, I accompanied 5 high school singers in a performance at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. They sang numbers from classic musical theater productions. And a couple of the singers could be added to the cast of any pro show out there, and thrive. Seeing and hearing teenagers perform Sondheim, Rodgers, Porter, and others with such command and flair and beauty filled my heart. To watch the art of these composers being kept alive by a new generation was breathtaking.
Young people will embrace art, given the chance.
Give them the art.
Give them the chance.