May Festival

The generous support it receives from the Cincinnati Wine Festival allows the May Festival to set the stage for the future success of local high school students through the May Festival Youth Chorus (MFYC). Now entering its 35thseason, the MFYC is the Western Hemisphere’s oldest choral festival and foundation of Cincinnati’s storied arts and culture scene that provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to come together from across the region, study and perform challenging choral repertoire in a highly-demanding environment.

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This choir of 30+ high school students is led by director Matthew Swanson . The group:

  • Rehearses weekly throughout the year, at no cost to them
  • Represents over 20 area high schools
  • Routinely performs at the annual May Festival, as a guest with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, in a range of venues, and for diverse audiences across Greater Cincinnati

Participation in the MFYC results in incredible benefits for these passionate young students. For some, the Youth Chorus builds upon existing education received in area schools; for others it is the only music education they are able to access (17% of members in the 2013-14 season did not have a music program in their school). For all, the extensive range of repertoire covered exposes students to a variety of styles, time periods, and composers, therefore requiring them to learn a broad range of musical techniques and develop their abilities. Following graduation many members do continue to pursue music or related fields, and this life-changing experience helps to open doors to new opportunities (including scholarships).

The Youth Chorus not only nurtures the next generation of musicians—this experience helps pave the way for these students to become doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, educators, etc. The impact that participation has on the lives of these students goes above and beyond artistic development; here they develop an extensive set of life and social skills that are invaluable for their future studies and careers, such as teamwork, goal-setting, problem solving and more. But the benefits are not only for the future—while making lifelong friends through shared passions and goals, 90% of youth chorus members report increased self-confidence and 98% feel that their involvement has prepared them for college (no matter their pursuit of study)! Participation also significantly enhances the quality of life for these local youth, as demonstrated by the following feedback:

“I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this program…I honestly cannot imagine not being a part of this group. A couple of years ago, I was in a very traumatic circumstance and through that difficult time, participating in Youth Chorus activities gave me my only sense of joy and comfort… It is because of the May Festival providing me with such a strong music foundation that I can embark on my new adventure of going to college with experience and confidence.” – Christian, MFYC graduate

“May Festival Youth Chorus was such a huge and wonderful part of [my daughter’s] life for her four years of high school. Even when she was ill her junior year and had to give up most of her activities, she insisted on keeping MFYC in her life. She ended up missing the December concerts, and I believe even one of the May concerts that  year, but being a part of the group and having that outlet kept her going…it was a life raft for her at a time when she felt like she was drowning.

One of the things she is most proud of is that she was able to sing with the group all four years. In fact, I think when you previewed the music for next year, she thought about ways to “stay back” so she could sing with you again next year!”
– Andrea Brady, MFYC parent

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