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February 17, 2021

What We’re Listening To: Nicole Kochman

There’s been a lot of time for listening this past year, and I’ve been keeping occupied with new music, revisiting old favorites, and hundreds of hours of podcasts! However, if there’s any group that never fails to move me and is particularly worthy of a shout-out, it would be the PS 22 Chorus: a rotating chorus of fifth graders at PS 22 public elementary school in Staten Island, NY. They have a prolific YouTube channel documenting performances dating all the way back to the year 2000 when they were founded by teacher Gregg Breinberg (featured in most of their videos at the piano).

It was difficult to pick just one video to highlight for this blog, but I always come back to their version of Björk’s Jóga, which is one of my favorite songs. They cover a wide range of music: from indie hits you wouldn’t typically hear in a school choir, to the classics, to contemporary musical numbers like this piece from The Greatest Showman. What I love about their covers is how expressive and passionate the kids are. You can tell that they’re encouraged to really enjoy themselves and feel the music, and they run with that direction and take the emotional nature of their songs to new heights. It’s really something to behold. They’ve managed to keep performing together amid the pandemic, either virtually or distanced in the classroom.

Not only do they sound beautiful, but the videos are a reminder of how meaningful the arts are to young people and how important it is to foster accessible avenues for them to pursue their passions. I can’t recommend their YouTube channel enough if you are ever in need of a pick-me-up, or simply want to have your heartstrings tugged. Their unabashed creative expression and joy is pure inspiration—definitely something we could all use a bit of right now.

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