San Juan Children's Choir, Latin youth's ambassadors at Obama's inauguration
Their voices are sweet and pitch perfect. They have sung for royalty, have been on world-class stages and in the company of a constellation of stars. Yet, the members of the San Juan’s Children Choir get excited over every performance. The next one on their agenda has the butterflies in their stomachs in overdrive.
The children will be singing for President Obama at the Latino Inaugural Celebration event this Sunday at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington.
“We told the kids after a Christmas Concert in San Juan,” said Camelia Garrido, a member of the Choir’s executive board who will accompany the choir to Washington. “It was a beautiful moment. They screamed, they danced, they clapped… It was pure joy.”
The Latino Inaugural Celebration event, executive producer Andrés López said, will be a tribute to all Hispanics and a testament to the fact that Latinos have earned “a permanent seat at the table.” Chita Rivera, José Feliciano, Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria will be among those performing.
The kids’ excitement goes beyond the thrill of being in the company of such prestigious artists. They have a higher calling.
“They see themselves as ambassadors for the youth of Puerto Rico and they take their role seriously. They want to show the world that there is a Latino youth that is staying positive, who is learning, growing and creating beauty,” said Garrido, herself a former member.
The San Juan Children’s Choir was founded in 1966 and it has gone on to represent Puerto Rico all over the world. They have shared the stage with Plácido Domingo, Lucianno Pavarotti and the Vienna Children’s Choir, among others. Children start with the group at around age 6 and usually stay until they graduate from high school. The group proudly showcases the diversity of Puerto Ricans, with every race and social group represented in it.
The Choir’s repertoire has always included a good dose of traditional Puerto Rican music, which its has proudly introduced to audiences that otherwise would’ve never heard it. El Cumbanchero, by Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández, will be one of the songs it will perform in Washington.
López, who is also Puerto Rican, predicted the Choir will awe the audience with ease:
“With apologies to all the legendary icons that will be there, the San Juan Children's Choir will be the absolute stars of the night.”