2015 Women in the World Summit
The Chorus was honored to perform at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit. The girls opened the final block of the day which addressed bullying, singing the second movement of I AM.
We pray our world may be healed from the ugliness of bullying. Our girls have been very brave in sharing their stories in hope of bringing greater awareness to this very serious issue. We are deeply grateful to the Women in the World organization for allowing us to participate in this very meaningful and important coming together of women from all over the world.
“I’M DONE TRYING: THE MANHATTAN GIRLS CHORUS INFUSES ITS MUSIC WITH RAW HONESTY – The choir is about much more than singing — it’s a sisterhood
The Manhattan Girls Chorus (or MGC) has performed at Carnegie Hall multiple times. They have sung alongside the American Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. They have learned pieces in Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, German, and Bavarian. The credentials of the MGC would be impressive for any young choir. But the MGC is more than just a choir. It is a community. The MGC brings together aspiring singers in grades five through 12. The singers hail from different ethnicities, different religions, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. During rehearsals, the girls don’t just practice music; they talk to one another about their struggles, their concerns, and their dreams.
“Every rehearsal, we talk about life,” artistic director Michelle Oesterle told Women in the World. “[The girls] have developed such a sense of sisterhood that they know they can trust each other. We’ve talked about everything this year: teen suicide, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, depression.”
The MGC was the featured performance at the Women in the World Summit on April 23rd. There, the chorus performed a segment from I AM, a musical work, set to music composed by David Sisco, comprised of the girls’ own words. During an MGC retreat, the singers were asked to answer 20 questions about themselves. I AM is a pastiche of their answers: ‘They say I’m fat. That I’m too tall. They spread rumors. They turned my friends against me. Sometimes I don’t understand. I’m done trying.’ Oesterle believes that fostering honesty and communication among her pupils is crucial to both their singing and their psyche. “I feel to perform, you need to be a bit vulnerable, and be able to bring your whole self to the music, and know that you’re surrounded by people who are supporting you,” she explained. “You have to be brave to be yourself and open your soul. When these girls sing, you can see who they are inside. They feel safe.”
The New York Times
“If your choir was invited to sing at the Women in the World Summit in NY City, what would you sing?!? The Manhattan Girls Chorus sang music based on their own words: exploring what their names mean to them, their struggles with being bullied, and what they dream of for themselves, their family, and their friends. Visionary music for a visionary conference! Kudos to conductor Michelle Oesterle and composer David Sisco for the score ‘I AM’! WITW Summit is a globally live streamed event of powerful female activists, CEOs, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, and firebrand dissidents who’ve saved and enriched lives and shattered glass ceilings in every sector.”
Marian Dolan via The Choral Project
“Thanks to Michelle Oesterle for being the kind of mentor who is not only a visionary, but who shows the girls that when one door slams in your face, that’s precisely the time something great could happen if you believe in yourself and your dreams, and you go confidently in that direction!”
A parent of one of the girls regarding the WITW Summit