Choir Concert

The Long Beach Youth Chorus performing at the holiday concert at Grace First Presbyterian Church last December.

Big changes are coming to the Long Beach Youth Chorus, including the support of a new fiscal sponsor.

Founded two years ago, the chorus started as a community project for Grace First Presbyterian Church. Initial collaborations with the church helped the chorus get started, but wasn’t enough support to move Long Beach Chorus toward its vision and mission.

“Our mission statement says that we want to become a multi-chorus organization that provides every child in the region the opportunity to perform in a choir,” Executive Director Stan DeWitt said in a release.

But he soon realized being affiliated with a church was preventing the chorus from various funding options.

“As we started to look more closely at some of the options and ideas that we had, we realized that we needed a way to build our organization with more possibilities than we could get being part of a church,” he said.

Since churches are excluded from many grants and funding options available to arts organizations, Dewitt selected a new fiscal sponsor for next year — The Emerge Project of Fulcrum Arts.

Though there were several organizations available to choose from, DeWitt said he had two specific reasons for choosing Fulcrum Arts.

“Two of the reasons we approached Fulcrum Arts was because they are based in Southern California and because they specifically are engaged in helping arts start up,” he said.

According to DeWitt, being sponsored by Fulcrum Arts means the chorus can now approach larger arts foundations. They’ll also have more flexibility to raise money.

“I was thrilled when I got the e-mail that Fulcrum Arts had accepted us, because it means we can now approach the large arts foundations like the Ahmanson, Annenberg and Colburn foundations,” he said.

Enrollment count doubled from season one to season two. DeWitt said there are plans to do even more.

“The long-term goal of the chorus is to be an organization that houses four or five choruses of different ages and make-up,” he said.

For the next season, the chorus will be divided into two groups.

“For next season, we will split into two choirs for the first time, one for grades 5-8 and another for grades 9-12. The two choirs can combine for major performances, with the Symphony, for instance,” he said.

A closing concert will wrap up the chorus’s current season. The program will include two new works composed especially for the chorus.

The first piece is a song arrangement by singer-songwriter Michael McNevin. “Grusha” tells the story of a Russian circus bear’s escape back into the Siberian woods.

The second piece is called “I Beat My Drum,” a collaboration between DeWitt and Long Beach poet Donna Hilbert. The song is written by Hilbert after several writing workshop sessions with the chorus. According to Hilbert, the work aims to capture the mix of emotions from being a youth in 2019.

“I tried to capture the mixture of hope, fear, ambition, and pressure that are such a part of student life. Sometimes I think there is little time to be a kid,” Hilbert said in a release.

The closing concert will be at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 2, at Ernest McBride High School, 7025 Parkcrest St.

Donations will be accepted at the door and will go to support the 2019-20 season.

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