New York City Community Chorus’ mission is to restore the joy of singing to day-to-day life, and to heal our community through singing. Since November 1994 we have brought the thrill of singing to hundreds of people, and our concerts have entertained thousands more.
The idea for a chorus of average people (even for people who think they’re not singers) had been shaping in my mind for a long time when the Church of the Holy Apostles invited me to found their community chorus in 1994.
During the 1980’s, I did quite a bit of traveling around the United States and Europe facilitating vocal workshops. Many people had enrolled because they said they could not sing, or that they “had no voice.” It occurred to me that it must be a twentieth century phenomenon that a person would have the notion that they did not have the ability to sing. Surely a century ago, when families in this country gathered around the parlor piano to sing for an evening’s entertainment, no one would have thought they were unworthy to join in. Many of our best folk songs started as work songs — sung together by people at their labor. Can you imagine that someone would have worked quietly on the side while the others sang because they “didn’t have a good voice?” For whatever reason — perhaps because the increase in electronic media has made people used to being spectators rather than participants, or perhaps because a simple way of life has been replaced with a complex and anxiety-filled one — people today rarely have the opportunity to sing together.
When the church invited me to begin this work, I knew that its reputation as a leader for social justice in the community would make it a perfect place for this experiment. What we have created here is a place where people can come together to sing without any judgments about their voices. We believe that everyone can sing, and that they ought to have the opportunity to sing. We respect all musical styles, and we try to include as many kinds of music as possible. Singing can be complex, baffling, and difficult at times, but most of all it ought to be enjoyable. We invite everyone who wants to have the thrill of singing to come and join us.
Jack Eppler, Founder and Director