Album Drop: Brooklyn Youth Chorus ‘SILENT VOICES’ (New AMSTERDAM RECORDS)



Silent Voices_cover.jpg

OUT Friday, October 26

New Amsterdam Records

Album of music commissioned by and written for the group by

Caroline Shaw | Nico Muhly | Toshi Reagan

Jeff Beal (House of Cards) | Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin) | Paul Miller/DJ Spooky

Shara Nova | Mary Kouyoumdjian | Kamala Sankaram

Tuesday, November 6 (Election Day)
@ (le) poisson rouge

“Remarkable young singers” who perform “with confidence, energy and tenderness. The sheer beauty of their singing [is] captivating.” — The New York Times

Brooklyn Youth Chorus, New York’s GRAMMY Award-winning collective of young voices (age 12-18) led by Founder and Artistic Director, Dianne Berkun Menaker, releases its sophomore album. Silent Voices, featuring International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) on Friday, October 26, 2018, with an album release show at Manhattan’s (le) Poisson Rouge on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, hosted by WQXR’s Helga Davis.

The album, which is the first release in the Chorus’s politically and socially-attuned Silent Voices series, is a commissioned collection of timely new choral pieces written for the group by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, indie-classical superstar Nico Muhly, R&B and blues powerhouse Toshi Reagan, House of Cards composer Jeff Beal, Armenian-American composer Mary Kouyoumdjian, San Fermin’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Paul Miller/DJ Spooky, My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova, and Bombay Rickey’s Kamala Sankaram. The lyrics, which engage with the challenging world in which the choristers live, is based on personal narratives, interviews, and historical texts, including original writings by Claudia Rankine (Citizen), and passages from authors and thinkers including Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow; George Savile, Marquis of Halifax’s 17th century chapbook to his daughter, The Lady’s New-Year’s Gift; and Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady, which draws from letters between civil rights activist Pauli Murray and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Says Dianne Berkun Menaker, “We started Silent Voices with a workshop to explore safe topics and issues of importance to the students, a chorus of culturally and socioeconomically diverse young people. Our first session focused on power and privilege, and what it means to be outside of the social norm or in the margins because of race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, able-bodied, economic status, citizenship, etc. The students themselves chose the focus areas and, as the works were developed, several composers—often with their librettists—had open conversations with the chorus to get perspectives on the topics, in some cases using the choristers own words in creating songs lyrics. Some composers went even further and took compositional ideas into consideration as works were developed and edited. The series began developing prior to the 2016 election when the political prospects looked very different. Since the election, the importance and the interpretation of the work have changed.”


A selection of works featured on the Silent Voices album will be performed by Brooklyn Youth Chorus and select members of ICE at NYC’s (le) Poisson Rouge on Election Day, November 6, 2018—a day that brings opportunity for Americans to address the very issues the project explores. As the majority Brooklyn Youth Chorus members are not yet able to vote, Silent Voices is an opportunity for their voices to be heard on this critical day.


1. so quietly (composition and text by Caroline Shaw)
2. Blind to the Illness (composition and text by Shara Nova)
3. Let Freedom Ring (composition and text by Shara Nova)
4. Advice to a Young Woman - STREAM HERE (composition by Nico Muhly, text from The Lady’s New-years Gift, attributed to George Savile, Marquis of Halifax 1633-1695)  
5. Lying in a field, age 67 (composition by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, text by Max Posner)
6. Singing in a chorus, age 14 (composition by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, text by Max Posner)
7. I Can Barely Look (composition by Mary Kouyoumdjian, text by members of Brooklyn Youth Chorus edited by Mary Kouyoumdjian)
8. Brooklyn Bound (composition and text by Toshi Reagon)
9. Go Tell It (composition by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, text by Michelle Alexander from The New Jim Crow)
10. Keeping the Look Loose (composition by Kamala Sankaram, text by Claudia Rankine)
11. Hope (composition by Jeff Beal, text by Pauli Murray from Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady)
12. Dear Mrs. Roosevelt (composition by Jeff Beal, text by Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt from Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady)
13. Freedom is a Dream (composition by Jeff Beal, text by Pauli Murray fromDark Testament and other poems)
14. Prophecy (composition by Jeff Beal, text by Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt)


BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS is a Grammy Award-winning collective of young voices led by visionary Founder & Artistic Director Dianne Berkun Menaker. “A polished ensemble of miniature professionals” (The New York Times), the Chorus has appeared with world-class orchestras and conductors, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra.

The Chorus has performed or recorded with major artists such as Barbra Streisand, Arcade Fire, Sir Elton John, The National, and Grizzly Bear. Recordings of the Chorus have been featured in major motion pictures, commercials, and live events, including a work by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke for rag & bone’s Spring 2016 collection as well as Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s OTR II World Tour. As a bold commissioner and producer of new music, the Chorus has introduced into the repertoire more than 120 original works and world premieres by contemporary composers, including collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Blues and R&B powerhouse Toshi Reagon, iconic British DJ Bishi, The National’s Bryce Dessner, and ubiquitous indie-classical superstar Nico Muhly.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus has garnered a strong reputation as an arts producer. This season Silent Voices: Lovestate will premiere Off-Broadway at The New Victory Theater in May 2019. Previous productions include the first two installments of the inclusive, social justice-oriented Silent Voices series (BAM 2017; National Sawdust 2018); Black Mountain Songs (BAM Next Wave Festival 2014); and Tell the Way (St. Ann’s Warehouse 2011). The Chorus has released two albums through New Amsterdam Records—Silent Voices (2018) and Black Mountain Songs (2017)—and has appeared at important contemporary music festivals including the Ecstatic Music Festival, MusicNOW, 21c Liederabend, Barbican Mountain and Waves Festival, and the PROTOTYPE Festival.

Founded in 1992, Brooklyn Youth Chorus has served nearly 6,000 students over the course of its history, currently involving more than 700 students in its core after-school and public school outreach programs, many of whom stayed in the program for a decade or more. The Chorus’s professional faculty teach a wide range of repertoire and styles using founding artistic director Dianne Berkun Menaker’s proven Cross-Choral Training® method, emphasizing healthy and versatile vocal technique, music theory, sight-singing and ear training. Classes take place at their Cobble Hill headquarters and neighborhood locations in Bay Ridge, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, Red Hook, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.


  • For downloadable mp3 or WAV files, hi-resolution photos, and more visit our press room.

  • To explore Brooklyn Youth Chorus’s full 2018-19 season, visit

  • For interview requests, to request a physical CD, or for other inquiries contact Sarah Baird Knight | | 646.907.8062

Sarah Knight