December 2020 
Featuring photos by Bill Rosholt, Kristina Auby, and CG Schmidt
250 MYC Singers Explore Our
Fall Semester Theme, Give Light
The remarkable and resilient singers of MYC have given us 250 reasons to be thankful throughout this bewildering year. These extraordinary young people light up our world every Sunday, cheerfully logging on to our virtual rehearsals and learning how to use new digital tools to make the most of our time together. Attendance has been outstanding and we've even been able to welcome back past singers who had moved away but are now able to join our choirs from anywhere in the world. 

We've spent this semester reflecting on the words of Civil Rights Movement leader Ella Baker, "Give light, and people will find a way." Throughout our 2020-2021 season, we're examining music as a conduit for social justice, examining how musical expression throughout history has allowed artists to amplify suppressed voices, illuminate complex issues surrounding oppression and revolution, and provide comfort and hope in times of struggle.

A small sample of the variety of works our choirs are studying: "Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler" by Nathaniel Dett; "Siyahamba" a South African hymn that translates to "We Are Marching" in the Zulu language ; "I Have A Million Nightingales," Linda Hirschhorn's musical setting of words by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish; and "One Voice" by Ruth Moody.

As a special treat, we're thrilled to share our Cantabile and Ragazzi members' virtual performance of our season's theme song, "Give Light" by Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino. When we wrote to the composers for permission to perform the song, they replied with great enthusiasm and warm encouragement, eager to see the work of our wonderful young singers. Enjoy!
MYC's New Leadership Structure
If you’ve been around MYC long enough, you’ve probably gotten the sense that “things are a little bit different here.” 

We’ve worked hard over the years to focus a culture that is centered around some lofty goals: (1) building a culture of consensus, (2) building a culture of continuous improvement, and (3) building a culture where every detail - from how an email is worded to what times rehearsals end - is focused on our singers and their families. 

We hope you’ve noticed this - it’s part of every decision we make and one of the reasons we have such staff longevity. I’ve been around since 1994 (before Madison Boychoir and Madison Children’s Choir merged); Randy & Lisa were part of the staff pre-merger as well. Margaret joined in 2005. Callie and Maggie have taught introductory choir classes since 2012. Both Nicole and Ian have been here since 2013. David, Carrie, and Marie are our newest conductors, joining our staff in 2018. 

Lynn Hembel, who you’ll hear from in the next column, has been with MYC since 2006, first as a parent volunteer and then joining the staff in 2010. She is a driving force behind our cultural values  - especially around thinking strategically and crafting our communication and planning. This past spring, our Board of Directors recognized how our leadership structure has evolved over the past few years and took official action to name Lynn and me as co-leaders of MYC. In our newly-defined positions as Artistic Director (Mike) and Executive Director (Lynn), we each have some areas of responsibility that we “lean into” more, but we are truly a team. Every decision we make moves through our culture and we work together to help support and move our MYC community forward. We’ve worked this way for years, and look forward to continuing to do so with the amazing support of our staff colleagues and our board. 

Congratulations to Lynn for the support and recognition by MYC of this new position. Learn more about what she’s doing during this crazy pandemic time in her column, below. 

Reflections On a Virtual World
From Executive Director Lynn Hembel
Every Sunday afternoon at around 2:58pm, the first measures of "Give Light" begin to play on my computer and like clockwork, my screen comes alive with the exuberant smiles and waves of singers entering Virtual Rehearsal Room #2. (We have three rooms running simultaneously on Sundays and I host Room 2 where Introductory Choir, Purcell, Britten, Holst, and Cantilena meet.) For the next five hours, I’m in choir.  And it’s the best five hours of my week. 

My camera is mostly off during rehearsals so I’m not a distraction, but behind my Give Light Zoom square, when I’m not trouble-shooting a tech issue or taking attendance, I’m fully participating. And it’s exhilarating. I’m mastering my solfege hand signs and I might be close to achieving a solid Level 5 of “Follow Me Four Beats Behind!” While these skills give me a fighting chance to keep up during the first five minutes of any MYC rehearsal, they’re just the beginning of my exhilaration. 

What comes next in rehearsal, when a single line of a German canon, for example, is mined for its seemingly endless interpretations--all framed around our Give Light theme--my mind begins the satisfying work of sorting, connecting, and synthesizing the myriad impressions and astute observations of my MYC singer-colleagues. (I’m keeping up at Level 5, so yes, colleagues.) And the result is often realizing I’m having brand new thoughts and overlaying new perspectives unto old and my mind is fully engaged with the art and with my choir. And then the canon is sung and the words, now attached to their notes, make themselves a permanent home inside my mind where I can go anytime to continue pondering or simply be. Imagining the many song-memories layered deep inside the minds of our singers gives me great hope that they, too, are squirreling away these moments of joy to return to again and again. 

I'm so glad we made the decision to continue meeting this semester to keep creating a collective memory for MYC and provide a place where beautiful ideas intersect with the music and young people are welcomed to experience it all. This semester of choir (and next!) will be my most treasured pandemic souvenir. Thank you to all of my singer-colleagues--and their conductors (my actual colleagues)--for making it so and inspiring all of us at MYC every week. 

See you next semester!
Mark Your Calendars for Our Upcoming
Virtual Performances!
Our singers have been hard at work preparing extra doses of musical cheer this holiday season! You can catch these talented young people in a variety of free performances in December:

Wednesday, December 16, at 7:30pm

This special new concert production will feature John DeMain, Greg Zelek, two guest soloists, and three choruses, including MYC's Cantabile and Ragazzi! The production will be pre-recorded in Overture Hall and multiple other locations, then edited into a presentation that will be streamed. This concert is offered for free upon registration, and will be available for viewing through December 31, 2020.

Tune into your local PBS Wisconsin station to re-live the festive moments of this exciting one-hour Christmas special! John DeMain and special guests Cecilia Violetta López (soprano), Kyle Ketelsen (baritone), the Madison Symphony Chorus, Madison Youth Choirs, and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir perform Christmas classics old and new. Visit to find your local channel.

Sunday, December 20 at 4:00p.m.

MYC singers from Cantabile and Ragazzi are contributing to this meaningful ceremony of remembrance. We encourage you to learn more about this special event from Friends of UW Health, which will also be made available on UW Health's YouTube page on Monday, December 21 to view at any time.

Wisconsin Public Radio's longest running program will feature MYC's singers in a holiday special. More information coming soon!

MYC Receives Significant Grant from
WI Dept. of Administration
MYC is honored to be one of the 385 cultural organizations across Wisconsin to receive a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Administration this fall. MYC was awarded over $85,000, a testament to the far-reaching effects of excellent music education in our community. The $15 million in COVID-19 relief funding awarded overall through this program will provide a much-needed investment in our state's music, dance, theater, visual arts and museums, helping us emerge strong on the other side of the pandemic!
Madison Youth Arts Center Heads Into Final Stretch of Construction; Announces Two
Job Openings
Madison's Youth Arts Center (MYA), our future home, is well on its way to completion in the summer of 2021! MYA is now looking to hire an outstanding team of leaders to guide the center into the future. The Director of Community Partnerships and Director of Facilities will serve as co-leaders for this incredible new facility. MYA values diversity and inclusion and seeks to build and maintain a community and culture that celebrates and values diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives. MYA's hiring committee will consider equivalent combinations of experience and education for jobs, and all candidates who believe they possess equivalent experience and education are encouraged to apply. Click here for more information and details on the two open positions.
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Registration Now Open for MYC Auditions and Summer Introductory Choir
We will be holding virtual auditions for new singers (in grades 5-12) interested in joining MYC second semester on Sunday, January 10. For younger students, ages 7-10, our winter session of introductory choir begins on January 31.

Registration for both opportunities is now open. Feel free to spread the word far and wide to your friends and direct them to the Join a Choir page on our website for more information.
We asked our young singers what they imagine it will feel like when we can raise our voices together once again. Their answers reflected the overwhelming joy and laughter that will fill the room when they can stand beside friends and dive into music, or even just high five their beloved conductors. 

In the midst of this challenging time, we've made it a priority to protect the legacy of MYC, with all staff taking pay cuts, reducing tuition to ensure all families are able to participate in our virtual semester, and focusing on community building within our ensembles. With brighter days now in sight, your support will pull us through the long winter ahead and secure MYC's long-term future, where we'll thrive in our new home and serve thousands of young singers from every neighborhood in our community. We thank the hundreds of you who have already contributed to MYC this season, and hope even more of our friends will consider a donation in support of our music education programs this year!
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MYC Welcomes Three New Members to
Legacy Society
We are honored to announce the membership of three new individuals to the Madison Youth Choirs Legacy Society, which recognizes donors who have designated a gift to MYC in their estate planning. Elizabeth Odders-White, Matthew Clayton, and an anonymous longtime friend of MYC now join fellow Legacy Society visionaries whose planned giving will be a lasting tribute to music education, supporting a bright, long-term future for MYC.

Your annual donations to MYC keep our choirs singing throughout the year, but if you would like to make a more permanent investment in the MYC program, we invite you to consider joining the MYC Legacy Society through a planned gift. There are a variety of ways to make a long-term impact, from providing a bequest in your will to seeing the impact of your generosity through a gift of money, stock, or property during your lifetime. For further information on how to include MYC in your charitable giving plans, please contact Nicole Sparacino
Madison Youth Choirs
433 W. Washington Ave., Floor 2
Madison, WI 53703

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