Singing, either by yourself or with a group of people, is easily one of America’s favorite pastimes. People might have completely different personalities and views on the world, but if they sing together, connections can be made between them that are unique and special. Of course, choirs all around the country attempt to reach these goals, helping singers create lifelong friends and partners that share a musical passion. One such choir is the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus.

The Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus, or BNYC, began as the Western New York Children’s Chorus in 1988. Founded by directors John Fleischman Jr. and Cathy Sutherland, BNYC has become well-known among musicians around Western New York, as it has performed with both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. The musical choices of the BNYC have been known to be both challenging yet fun to sing, with various harmonies and vocal structures. The majority of the choir members have been members for several years, some having started as young as age 7.

This season is the 25th anniversary of the BNYC. It has two locations for rehearsals and concerts – Buffalo and Orchard Park – as well as three choirs: concert for grades four to seven; chamber for grades eight to 12; and pop, Broadway and jazz (aka PB&J) for grades eight to 12. They meet every Wednesday.

The BNYC has traveled to places such as Italy and Hawaii for music festivals, making new friends along the way. Currently, the chorus has been invited to attend the Pacific International Children’s Choir Festival in Eugene, Ore.

But being in BNYC isn’t all about singing. Members are trained to not only become better singers, but also better people, more in tune to the world around them.

Lifelong friendships with both the staff and fellow choir members are always being formed. New members are always welcomed with a smile and fit right in among the veterans.

“It was a very fun time, with a very welcoming environment!”said newcomer Catherine Stuhlmiller, a sophomore at Kenmore West High School.

The performances are very diverse, with music ranging from religious hymns in Swahili to love songs in Maori.

“Since being in BNYC, I have been exposed to many other cultures and languages that I would have never otherwise been introduced to,” said Brian Page, a senior at Kenmore West.

Interested in joining BNYC? Check out its website,, for more information, including auditions, email addresses of staff members, tuition and a calendar of upcoming concert dates.

Jesse Orrange is a sophomore at Kenmore West High School.