I recently took a ride past my old elementary school, during a visit to see my mom on Staten Island. I was surprised that the school looks basically the same, even after all of these many years. I pulled over in front of the concrete school yard, where my friends and I had played out our passion for double-dutch every day during recess. This school cannot offer a fancy playground or a sprawling sports field, as Vermont schools do. The concrete school yard, with the chain-link fence around it, clearly represents the physical limitations of the school.
But within the walls of P.S.22, there’s some serious magic going on. During recent years, this school has achieved remarkable notoriety (and not through violence or hardship, I’m thrilled to report!) The P.S.22 school chorus has distinguished itself on the international stage, performing at countless venues, including the Academy Awards.
How did this happen? What went on within the nothing-fancy walls of this public school that led to such phenomenal accomplishment and recognition? Gregg Breinberg happened. In 2000 he was hired as the school chorus director and he began lighting the school on fire. Under his extraordinary leadership, the kids in the P.S. 22 chorus have learned to feel music in their bodies. And in their hearts. They have learned to listen deeply and to feel their own response to the music, to be authentic and wholehearted, and to go beyond a superficial display. The exquisite harmonies and heartfelt performances of these kids are an inspired gift to us all.
So Bravo, Gregg Breinberg! Thank you for the passion and initiative that you brought to P.S.22. You and your chorus are a fountain of musical joy. Under your guidance, the world is a more beautiful and harmonious place. May we be inspired by your leadership and by the children who have embraced your vision. Their openhearted and generous spirits are like a soothing balm in our tumultuous world right now. They send a note of hope out onto the breeze. Halleluah.