Portland multinational children’s choir takes message of empowerment national (video)


The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, a Portland group made up of 30 girls from 15 countries, is getting increasing national exposure. Last month, a crew from NBC’s Today Show came to Maine’s largest city for a story on the group that was broadcast nationally on Dec. 24.

Today Show correspondent and former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager, whose family we all know has deep ties to Maine, described Portland as having “one of the largest immigrant and refugee communities” in the United States. She said Pihcinto means “When she sings, her voice carries far.”

Con Fullam, described by Portland Public Schools (which most of the girls in the choir attend, but does not oversee the group) as an “award-winning producer and songwriter,” leads the group. He told Hager: “I think when you come to a new country, one of the first things that happens is you lose your voice.”

In a separate clip, one of the chorus’ singers describes being a part of Pihcintu, and how it helps rectify that.

“When all of us sing, you can hear everyone’s voice,” she tells Hager.

Here’s a few paragraphs of background from the chorus’ website:

Welcoming immigrant children from around the globe, The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus helps restart young lives. War-torn villages, bloodshed, refugee camps, famine, and political turmoil were devastating realities for many of these young singers before being embraced by the warmth, companionship and harmony that Pihcintu provides.

The power of survival eases but never erases the memory of unthinkable atrocities, physical danger and personal tragedy. Portland, Maine, an ever-expanding international resettlement community, was fertile ground to bring together children from diverse backgrounds to sing as one. … This unique chorus of young women from Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Viet Nam, British West Indies, and Zambia, along with children whose families have been here for generations, have formed a powerful and permanent bond. Through the healing power of music, these vulnerable, yet brave, young women have learned to trust, hope and laugh again.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.