About Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Our Mission:
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus offers exceptional music training and choral performances to enrich the lives of its students and community. Through music study and professional-level performing experiences, BYC unites children of diverse backgrounds and helps them develop into confident and expressive musicians and individuals. BYC strives to advance the artistic role of youth choruses through innovative concert programming, collaborations, and the commissioning of new choral repertoire.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus, 1998

We are proud of how far we’ve come since 1992: from 45 kids rehearsing in a donated space in Downtown Brooklyn to more than 450 students enjoying a wide range of music courses in our own renovated building in Cobble Hill and at our Bedford-Stuyvesant Music Annex.  Under the encouraging eye of artistic director and founder Dianne Berkun, we have become an uplifting artistic community, building confidence and self-esteem with every high note and harmony.

Founded on the pillars of artistry, community and diversity, our approach works.  Audiences, music critics and peers praise our performances as “thriving and accomplished,” “innately musical” and “angelic.”   Our growing reputation has taken us from the White House to Lincoln Center, from Madison Square Garden to Radio City Music Hall, across 12 states and overseas to Russia, the United Kingdom, Austria, Canada and Germany.  

Renowned orchestras and artists choose to work with us.  We have performed with the New York, Los Angeles and Brooklyn Philharmonics; with Barbra Streisand, Lou Reed, Judy Collins, Sir Elton John, John Legend and Ray Davies; under the baton of Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, James Levine, Marin Alsop, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Charles Dutoit, Robert Spano, and Leon Botstein; and alongside the Mark Morris and Wally Cardona dance companies.  We have recorded with Grizzly Bear, Talib Kweli, Holy Ghost and Laurie Berkner and sang on the soundtrack for Philip Glass’ film, Undertow.

We won the Best Classical Album Grammy® in 2005 for On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams.  We also sang at the 2002 world premiere of that Pulitzer prize-winning work under Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic.  The following year, we performed at the New York premiere of Mr. Adams’ El Niño with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under Esa-Pekka Salonen.2005 Concert Chorus at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus, 2005

These accomplishments flow from the challenging yet supportive musical community that we’ve created.   At BYC, we carefully guide our students through a progression of six ensembles, each building on earlier vocal and musical skills while introducing new ones.  Everyone attends rehearsal classes and participates in ensemble performances.   Many also take private voice and instrument lessons, selecting among our extensive electives program. 

We also develop new choral music across many genres by commissioning composers and arrangers such as: Pulitzer prize-winners David Lang and Paul Moravec, Phil Kline, Fred Hersch, Andrew Lippa, Nico Muhly, Kirk Nurock, James MacMillan, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, Shara Worden, Joel Martin, and Daniel Brewbaker.

Brooklyn Youth Concert Chorus, 2009

Although Brooklyn based, BYC is a true New York City institution.  We attract students from across the boroughs, forming a resplendent mosaic of diverse cultures and experiences.  Our scholarship program makes BYC affordable, regardless of ability to pay.  It’s all part of our mission to help the young and talented from all backgrounds achieve and surpass their goals as both musicians and people.