OrchKids come in to sing “Eclipse.”

We were so excited to have a select choir (9 young singers chosen by audition) and their excellent conductor, Dion Cunningham, to join us on our arrangement of “Eclipse,” the last track of the album. OrchKids is a groundbreaking school music program founded by a young, visionary musician named Dan Trahey. Dan was heavily inspired by the famous Venezuelan music education system, El Sistema, which considers music to be a fundamental community-building activity and which emphasizes ensemble playing and peer learning over individual private lessons.

These elementary school musicians from Lockerman-Bundy Elementary Middle School commit to twenty-five hours of instrumental and vocal music rehearsal/instruction, and boast an impressive schedule of public concerts. In summer 2012, OrchKids were asked to provide a group young singers to join Roger Waters on stage at the Verizon Center for his performance of The Wall. Several of those who sang with Waters have now also sung with us.

At the rehearsal before recording, some of the girls who’d been involved in the Verizon Center show asked me, “Is Pink Floyd going to be there?”–there meaning the studio for our project.

I had to laugh. “No, kids. As a matter of fact, you all have the advantage of already knowing Roger Waters. We haven’t met him yet. You’ll have to introduce us!”

The kids came in from 4 to 6 on a Tuesday evening and really worked hard. One challenge for them was tuning up properly in an acoustically dry environment. They’re used to the booming resonances of school gym, classrooms, and cafeteria where they rehearse. But between their excellent skills and a little digital tweaking from our engineer, we captured a really cool vocal performance for our final song.

Nine singers from the OrchKids program.

Dion Cunningham, a master’s candidate in piano performance at Peabody, and vocal director for the OrchKids.