October 16, 2019

American Young Voices: Sparking Musical Connection by the Thousands

American Young Voices (AYV) is a performing arts education program that brings thousands of students in a local area together in a massive chorus concert at their local arena for a sell-out audience.

We recently caught up with AYV CEO Ben Lewis, who told us more about AYV’s mission and the good it does for young people and their communities.

What is AYV all about?
AYV stages the largest children’s choir concerts in the world, giving thousands of children a life-changing musical experience. Over the past 23 years, Young Voices has inspired over 2.5 million children in the UK, Ireland, Germany and South Africa to find their love of music. Up to 8,000 children perform as one choir in the world’s largest arenas and are joined by special guest artists as part of a world class production.

What drives your mission and activities?
Our mission is to give children the opportunity to be a part of a project that will create a lifelong connection with music. We feel it’s hugely important for every child to be introduced to music in the most exciting and engaging way, and we feel the best way to do this is by creating these huge concerts. If you think about the first major concert you ever saw, and then think about how it would have felt to have been the star of that show, then you might be able to realize just what it means to the children on that day. We believe that every child deserves an engaging music education that can feed their creativity and broaden their horizons.

Tell us about your programming
Music teachers are at the center of the AYV program, and our success has been largely due to working closely with them to provide the most diverse, engaging, and impactful repertoire and resources possible. Most of the magic of AYV happens inside the classroom, where the teachers work with our resources to prepare their students. The concert is really a reward for all the hard work that has been put in by the choirs. The release of emotion and energy on the day make for an unforgettable spectacle. 

What’s coming up next?
In early 2020 we will have our Teacher Workshops, where hundreds of teachers across the East Coast come together with our conductor Francisco Nunez. They run through the repertoire for the concert and also gain experience from a world-renowned conductor/composer on how to get the best out of your choir. Then in June we will be on tour in 5 cities with over 20,000 children taking part in AYV 2020.  

What makes music education so important for you personally?
Music education affects so many key areas of a child’s development, from increasing one’s self-belief to working as part of a team, as well as a host of other benefits such as improved literacy, memory and well-being. However, music education has struggled to keep pace with the ever-changing world of music, which is more diverse than it’s ever been, which has often meant both teachers and students feel out of touch.

Music education can often be seen as reserved for those who can afford it or for the musically talented, which for me completely misses the point. Music has the ability to impact everyone, whatever their ability. At AYV we are all about creating the joy from participation.