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The Late Movies: PS22 Kids Sing the Hits

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The Public School 22 Chorus is a delight -- a choir of fifth graders who sing their hearts out. With a new group every school year, you get to see tons of talent coming from one school in Staten Island, New York. Below, I've rounded up some of my favorite songs performed by the group. Listen up, folks: this is what public school arts education can do.

"Somebody That I Used to Know" (Gotye)

Featuring Kahlil on lead vocals. Apparently Gotye posted about this cover, calling PS22 "the coolest kids on the block." Totally!

"Eye of the Tiger" (Survivor)

Stay tuned for soloist Jared around the one-minute mark. This kid can really hit the high notes!

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Simon & Garfunkel)

When was the last time you saw fifth graders so engaged and so in-tune? Totally lovely.

"Rolling in the Deep" (Adele)

Featuring Denise on lead vocals, belting it out!

"True Colors" (Cyndi Lauper)

With some bonus enthusiasm at the end.

"Man in the Mirror" (Michael Jackson)

Recorded at the kids' graduation.

"I Want You Back" (Jackson 5)

My favorite Jackson 5 tune, done beautifully by Marquis and the chorus.

"Kids" (MGMT)

Featuring Marquis on drums! A little off key in spots, but still fun.

"Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (The Smiths)

These kids have got that mid-80's Rough Trade vibe down pat.

"Don't Stop Believin'" (Journey)

This was posted about a month after Glee premiered. See also: "Faithfully" featuring Judy Torres.

"Viva La Vida" (Coldplay)

These kids can even make me like Coldplay! Miraculous. Featuring April.

"Imagine" (John Lennon)

Apparently taken from the second rehearsal by this particular group.


There's way more where these came from. You can also read up on the group at Wikipedia, including an impressive list of appearances on TV and radio. Great job, kids and teachers!

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]


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