SCOTT SIMON, host:
You know, the Oscars aren't just golden statuettes. It's also a television show and about a billion people around the world will be watching. In edition to stars who are nominees and presenters, this year's musical performers include Mandy Moore, Randy Newman, Gwyneth Paltrow - yeah, she's singing, and...
(Soundbite of song, "Firework")
PS22 Chorus: (Singing) Make 'em go oh, oh, oh. As you shoot across the sky. Baby you're a firework. Come on let your colors burst.
SIMON: That's the fifth grade chorus of Public School 22 in Staten Island, New York. PS22 chorus has become an Internet sensation. They're in Hollywood as we speak, preparing for their performance on tomorrow night's Academy Awards show. The choral director of PS22 is Gregg Breinberg. And he joins us from his hotel room in Hollywood.
Mr. Breinberg, thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. GREGG BREINBERG (Director, PS22 chorus): Thank you, Scott. Great to be here.
SIMON: You know, I have rarely enjoyed preparing for an interview as much as I did watching clips of you and your kids. You guys are great.
(Soundbite of laughter)
How'd you wind up on the Oscars?
Mr. BREINBERG: Bruce Cohen, who's one of the producers of the show this year turns out to be a big fan of the kids and said, hey, listen, we've got an exciting proposition for you. And this was approved by the mayor's office, by the Department of Education and here we are.
SIMON: How many youngsters are you out there in Hollywood with?
Mr. BREINBERG: We are here with 64 fifth graders - 10-year-olds.
SIMON: Wow. What's that like?
Mr. BREINBERG: It's loud.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: We introduced you with a clip from "Firework," which of course is a popular Katy Perry song. There is something especially affecting about fifth graders singing a song that tells youngsters you're a firework.
Mr. BREINBERG: Yeah. And I try to choose music that maybe has a different meaning when the kids sing it. These guys always, always find a way to just grab their audience and make the music meaningful. And they do us proud here.
SIMON: You know, I'm very impressed when you watch your videos on YouTube and the youngsters talk about you. They say you've helped them put feeling into their music. How do you do that, Mr. Breinberg?
Mr. BREINBERG: I just like the idea of free expression. I don't tell them listen, you know, put your hand over your heart when you say this lyric. And the very first lesson they learn in their general music class, which I teach as well, is that if you're not connecting emotionally you're engaging in maybe mathematics of rhythms and beats and numbers.
But it's not music until you infuse that emotion into the performance. And that's one thing that these guys have that I don't think I've ever seen from another group their age.
SIMON: Gregg Breinberg, choral director for the PS22 chorus in Staten Island, New York. You can watch them perform tomorrow night on the Oscars.
(Soundbite of song, "Just Dance")
PS22 Chorus: (Singing) Blueprint electronic. What's going on on the floor? I love this record baby, but I can't see straight anymore.
SIMON: This is NPR News.
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