It’s a classic Catch-22. You can perform at the president’s inauguration – but you’re going to have to pay your way to Washington.
That’s the situation the famed P.S. 22 Chorus out of Staten Island, New York, which recently performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, finds itself in.
The chorus was invited by New York Senator Chuck Schumer but informed that it is customary for performers to pay their way to the inauguration and for expenses, which include food and lodging.
P.S. 22, which is more than 60 percent Latino, according to chorus director Gregg Breinberg, is taking charge of fundraising for the trip to Washington in January.
“We were invited by a tweet – that’s the day and age we live in,” Breinberg says. “Senator Chuck Schumer who is on the bipartisan inauguration committee, said he would love the chorus to do this.”
But Breinberg gives a “conservative” estimate of needing to raise $20,000 to $25,000 for the trip. Now the Fund for Public Schools and the Department of Education have gotten involved to try to facilitate the fundraising.
Students in the chorus are confident that they will be able to raise the money right on the heels of a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser they did with “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips and are excited about the idea of meeting the president.
“This is a great opportunity because I’m going to meet the president and we’re raising money,” says 10-year-old Ruben Luis Rivera. “I feel awesome, I have an awesome music teacher and I’m learning a lot,” he added.
Joseph Guillianni Machado, 11, says he would love to be able to sing for the president. “It would be the best thing in my life, the one and only opportunity. I’m really glad to be in the chorus.”
Breinberg says his chorus is largely made up of minority students and is glad to be able to offer opportunities for them to excel and become more confident in themselves during their one year in the chorus.
“I emphasize that this is what you made happen through teamwork and through hard work,” Breinberg says. “These are life lessons that don’t just apply to music.”
For his part, Delaney Rivera, 11, is looking forward to raising the money necessary to perform at the inauguration.
“It would mean a lot because singing for the president is a big thing,” he says. “But I’m just happy for us to sing and show everyone a good time.”