Scene Last Night: Vuitton, Margo Lion for Young People’s Chorus

Louis Vuitton Inspiration Award
The Young People's Chorus on the stairwell of Louis Vuitton's Fifth Avenue store. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City performed Friday night at the Louis Vuitton shop on Fifth Avenue to celebrate a grant from the North American arm of the luxury brand.

Among the attendees were Broadway producer Margo Lion, Hollywood corporate-affairs executive Andy Spahn and Jean Shafiroff, whose husband, Martin Shafiroff, works at Barclays Capital Inc. The refreshments included red-velvet-cake petit fours and miniature Rice Krispies Treats.

Wearing their standard (non-Louis Vuitton) performance garb -- blue button-downs and brightly colored scarves for the girls, ties and blazers for the boys -- the young people sang Christmas carols from a stairwell, surrounded by displays of luggage and handbags.

They also performed a new song that they helped write, drawing inspiration from a Louis Vuitton commercial titled “A Journey.”

The ad, a short film by French director Bruno Aveillan, consists of serene black-and-white footage of desert, rivers and mountains.

Some sample lyrics: “Dreaming on, my song keeps moving ... Where my heart goes is where I’ll be.”

“We’ve adapted the theme of journey for this year,” said Francisco Nunez, the founder and artistic director of the chorus.

The New York-area singers are well-traveled: they have performed in Japan, in the Dominican Republic and at the White House.

On their second visit to the White House last month, they received a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Lion is co-chairman of the committee and Spahn is a member.

Grant Created

Louis Vuitton’s North American arm is a supporter of the committee’s awards program.

“We met in Washington,” said the Louis Vuitton unit’s president and chief executive officer, Valerie Chapoulaud-Floquet. “Afterward, we decided to go further, and create a grant.”

The Louis Vuitton Inspiration Grant -- the company declines to specify the amount -- will be given annually to one of the 12 winners of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Louis Vuitton is also supporting a series of PCAH/LV arts-education conversations across the country.

“What we share is excellence,” said Nunez. “Coming here to perform, it’s not about the purse or the shoe, the kids know that. It’s being taken seriously as artists.”

On the Bus

In any case the kids, who were served strawberry-rhubarb lemonade, had little time to peruse the merchandise. Moments after their final note, they were on a bus being transported uptown for a sold-out concert at the 92nd Street Y.

“I feel like people think the arts are distracting,” said chorus member Nicholas Leung, 15, of Manhattan. “But for me, performing helps me stay focused. It keeps the brain thinking about things.”

Noni Murphy, 16, of Bayside, Queens, agreed. “I was studying body parts in biology, and to help me memorize them for a test, I made a song out of it,” she said.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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