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1969 - 2010

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    Tori is touring in 2017 to support the release of Native Invader. The European legs runs from early September through early October and the North American leg runs from late October to early December. We do not know if additional dates elsewhere will be added.

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    News: PS22 Choir Featured In NYT

    Posted by Beth on Friday, December 26, 2008 | Articles,Toriphiles

    “The first time I heard them I thought this director had a very imaginative arranging sense,” she said. “The fact that the children are so versatile — I didn’t expect this level of ability from a children’s choir and was really blown away, touched, thrilled and inspired all at once.”

    As promised! Check out the article on the PS22 choir in Dec. 25’s NYT.


    Staten Island School Chorus Finds Fame on YouTube
    By AZADEH ENSHA
    Published: December 25, 2008

    Something seemed a bit off in the fifth graders’ song about a Christmas tree. “Altos, a little more carefully, please,” the chorus director, Gregg Breinberg, told them. “You’re still a little flat.”

    The children, students at Public School 22 in Graniteville on Staten Island, listened to Mr. Breinberg carefully before starting again. As well they might — he helped make the chorus popular on YouTube, and their predecessors once serenaded the singer and songwriter Tori Amos with two of her songs.

    Mr. Breinberg, 36, had his own jagged route to P.S. 22 and YouTube. He had been a music teacher at a nearby school, and when that job was cut he arrived at P.S. 22 in 1999 — as a second-grade teacher.

    “It was never my intention to be a classroom teacher,” Mr. Breinberg said. “In the absence of a music job, I used music to teach second grade. Everything I taught, from math to English, I taught with music.”

    The following year, he persuaded the school’s administration to let him start a chorus and become a full-time music teacher again. That was difficult enough, given cutbacks in arts programs, but he also wanted the group to sing contemporary songs instead of, say, “Kumbaya.”

    “I remember being in a chorus when I was a student and singing songs that I hated,” he said. Before long he had the new chorus singing “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay and “1000 Oceans” and “Flying Dutchman” by Ms. Amos.

    “I love to sing,” said Joseph Spear, 10, a member of the chorus. “When I get depressed, I think about my songs and it makes me feel better. I also sing for Mr. B because he takes his own time to teach me, and so I always put in a 100 percent effort because that’s a really cool thing for him to do.”

    In the summer of 2006, Mr. Breinberg began posting videos on the Internet of the students singing. He started a YouTube channel and a complementary blog, posting regular updates and information about the chorus’s performances, which up to that point occurred just twice a year at the school.

    A viral moment happened when the gossip blogger Mario Lavandeira, better known as Perez Hilton, began putting links to the videos on his Web site, perezhilton.com.

    “A reader e-mailed me a link to one of their videos and I instantly loved it,” Mr. Lavandeira said. “The first video of theirs was one of their many Tori Amos covers, and I’m a big, big, big Tori Amos fan and I thought it was so cool that this choir teacher was having the kids do Tori Amos songs.”

    By Christmas, the chorus’s YouTube videos had been seen 2,110, 267 times.

    Ms. Amos gradually learned of these young interpreters of her work and was intrigued. “I first heard about P.S. 22 when friends started sending me YouTube links of their rehearsals,” she wrote in an e-mail message from England.

    “The first time I heard them I thought this director had a very imaginative arranging sense,” she said. “The fact that the children are so versatile — I didn’t expect this level of ability from a children’s choir and was really blown away, touched, thrilled and inspired all at once.”

    She met the students in Midtown Manhattan in May of last year. In that encounter, which — of course — itself became a video on YouTube, Ms. Amos wiped away tears as the children sang another of her songs, “Dragon.” She then joined them on “Father’s Son.”

    One of the singers, Alex Avilla, 13, who is now a student at Intermediate School 51 on Staten Island, said of that day: “I have to say, it’s my favorite memory from that school.”

    Another former chorus member, Justin Rolon, 12, has begun a career in show business since leaving P.S. 22 and has been cast in a television show that is being developed. Mr. Breinberg has “taken the time to give me lessons and that’s why I am where I am right now,” Justin said. “He’s helped me and everybody else in so many ways.”

    Melissa Donath, the principal at P.S. 22, said Mr. Breinberg was “very modest, but he always makes sure that the kids are treated like professionals and he gives them the utmost respect. Every year, he brings out the best in our children.”

    Another student, Mariah Baez, 10, said, “Mr. B is like our family.”

    And Mr. Breinberg, in turn, seems to feel a deep affection for his singers. “There’s a great feeling in seeing these kids — some of whom have been abused, neglected, who have nothing to look forward to when they get home — and knowing that when they come in to my class to sing, you can just see the depth of their emotional experience come through,” he said.

    So far in December, the chorus has had eight engagements. On Dec. 18, they sang at a party for the photographer Bruce Weber’s new book, “All-American VIII: Nature’s Way” (Little Bear Press). They also appeared at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Staten Island Borough Hall and, on Sunday, they performed for the unofficial swearing-in ceremony of Michael E. McMahon, the borough’s new congressman.

    “Now I have to get them ready quicker because we have more performances,” Mr. Breinberg said. “We’ve never had a December like this.”

    As for the group’s success, Joseph Spear said, “It makes me feel famous that a whole bunch of people know me.”