Dr. Armstrong is the conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Youth Choral Academy. I was a charter member of the YCA. In 1998 I had the opportunity and privilege to sing with the YCA and with Dr. A. I have been in choirs my whole life, from school choirs, community choirs, church choirs… It wasn’t until I was in Dr. A’s choir that I really learned how to sing in a choir. What he does is magic. He gets 80 high school vocalists from around the US together and teaches them to sing.
We had all been in choirs, good ones, in fact. But, nothing compares to the sound that we could make together under Dr. A’s direction. I remember each summer I did the YCA coming out of the experience a much better singer and musician.
My strongest memories of Dr. A and the YCA are the times that we were either singing beautifully or terribly. It was awful when he said we were singing “mugly” – mucho ugly. It was heartbreaking when he was disappointed with us. On the other hand, when we were all hitting the notes and singing with feeling Dr. A gave us the most amazing praise. I remember one time he held his hand to his heart after a soaring tenor line. He is one of those people you really want to please, and will work your hardest to make sure that he’s happy with your performance.
I will never forget the 3 years I was involved with the YCA. Those were some of the bet times in my life and I learned so much from Dr. Armstrong.