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Finding Home the Jerusalem Youth Chorus

Jerusalem Youth Chorus

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus alumni ensemble sings at San Francisco City Hall earlier this year

What does “home” mean to you?

Is it a physical place? Being with family and friends?

Founded by Micah Hendler in 2012, the Jerusalem Youth Chorus (JYC) is a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli youth comprising 30 singers between the ages of 14 and 19. Its mission is to create a space for young people to be able to discuss their differences while creating music together.  Deeply inspired by the context-specific message of “Home,” by Phillip Phillips, Greg Holden and Drew Pearson, the JYC first recorded it in 2014.  That video is here: https://youtu.be/xMkq

While sheltering in place, singers and instrumentalists joined the choir from their homes all over the world for “Home” from home, a reimagining of “Home” with its global family, including alumni and beloved collaborators. One of them was Youth in Arts’ `Til Dawn Director, Austin Willacy.  You can find that video here.

“We initially thought about making a video of ‘Home’ from home just with the chorus as a cute thing to keep us singing together in this time,” JYC Artistic Director Micah Hendler said. “But once we opened it up to our global community and heard the artists … who answered the call and lent their voices to sing ‘just know you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna make this place your home,’ we knew we were on to something extraordinary.”

It is an inspiring piece, and one you’ll want to hear more than once.

“This is a moment where the world is reevaluating what home can mean and what kind of responsibilities we have to one another, locally and globally,” Willacy said.

Willacy first met the chorus last summer as a music educator and featured artist at Jerusalem Singing Camp, a two-week summer program in Jerusalem. 

“There is a strong overlap between Micah’s vision for the JYC and mine for `Til Dawn,” said Willacy.  “We’re both doing what we can to create resilient communities infused with love that provide a safe place for young singers to discover themselves, and tap into an unshakable sense of self, regardless of what’s happening around them.”

Austin joined the JYC from his home studio in the East Bay. In addition to leading `Til Dawn, he is a renowned performer who travels worldwide as a solo artist and with the pioneering a cappella group, The House Jacks.

Other professionals who participated in the “Home” video include recording artist David Broza; singer, songwriter and activist Achinoam Nini (NOA); composer and vocal activist Melanie DeMore; Joanna Jones and Ari Afsar from the cast of “Hamilton;” Craig Jessop, former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; YouTube stars Malinda, Sam Tsui and Casey Breves; Udi Bar-David, founder of ARTolerance; actor, director and vocal activist Mira Awad; Frank Fredericks, founder of World Faith; Ysaye Barnwell, composer and former singer with Sweet Honey in the Rock; composer Moira Smiley; and Micah’s family members.

“I try to use my voice as a weapon of mass connection,” Melanie said during the video.”We are all one in this world. That’s just the way it is.”

 

 

 

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