Dianne Berkun Menaker

The American Academy of Teachers of Singing is pleased to recognize Dianne Berkun Menaker with a 2023 AATS Award “in recognition of outstanding work founding and directing the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.”



Dianne Berkun Menaker headshot

Dianne Berkun Menaker believes, as do we, that all children should have a chance to sing, to become musicians, and to grow through music. With more than 30 years of remarkable work, guiding each child in musicianship and vocal training, she has developed the Brooklyn Youth Chorus into a nationally recognized organization. The Grammy Award-winning group draws on participants from throughout the five NYC boroughs, and regularly appears in concert with world-renowned artists. Dianne is to be commended on her wonderful achievements, which we recognize impact not only the children involved, but also their families and the broader community. Her work represents the best of the profession.

Dianne Berkun Menaker is the Founder & Artistic Director of Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Under her visionary leadership for 31 seasons, the Chorus has become one of the most highly regarded ensembles in the country and has stretched the artistic boundaries for the youth chorus.

Hailed by The New York Times as “a remarkable choral conductor,” Ms. Berkun Menaker has prepared choruses for performances with acclaimed conductors including Alan Gilbert, James Levine, Marin Alsop, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Reinbert de Leeuw, Valery Gergiev, and Lorin Maazel. She has also collaborated with an impressive range of organizations and artists including the New York Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Joe Hisaishi, The National, David Byrne, Wye Oak, Bon Iver, Shara Nova, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Barbra Streisand, Arcade Fire, Sir Elton John, and Grizzly Bear. In 2002, she prepared the Chorus for its debut with the New York Philharmonic in John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls, the recording for which the Chorus won a Grammy Award in 2005.

Ms. Berkun Menaker has also prepared the Chorus for recordings with The National, Bon Iver, Fatoumata Diawara, Tyondai Braxton, Paola Prestini, Philip Glass, Wye Oak, Cecile McLauren Salvant, and Grizzly Bear. 

She has developed an active commissioning program, born out of a desire to showcase the Chorus’s versatility and uniquely beautiful sound and has collaborated with some of the most important composers of our time, resulting in more than 120 original works and world premieres by contemporary composers, including collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Tania Leon, David Lang, Nico Muhly,  Angelica Negron, Bryce Dessner, Paola Prestini, Nathalie Joachin, Paul Moravec, Toshi Reagon, Alev Lenz, Anna Clyne, Aleksandra Vrebalov, John King, and William Brittelle. 

Ms. Berkun Menaker also has a strong reputation as an arts producer, having developed numerous original choral/theater productions for the stage, with the most recent production, Silent Voices: Lovestate, premiering Off-Broadway at The New Victory Theater in 2019. Previous productions include the first two installments of the inclusive, social justice-oriented Silent Voices series (BAM 2017; National Sawdust 2018); Black Mountain Songs (BAM Next Wave Festival 2014); and Tell the Way (St. Ann’s Warehouse 2011). The Chorus has released two albums through New Amsterdam Records—Silent Voices (2018) and Black Mountain Songs (2017)—and has appeared at important contemporary music festivals including the Ecstatic Music Festival, MusicNOW, 21c Liederabend, Barbican Mountain and Waves Festival, and the PROTOTYPE Festival.

This year, Ms. Berkun Menaker served as Associate Music Director for Euphoria by Julian Rosefeldt, commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and starring Cate Blanchet.

Ms. Berkun Menaker is a regular choral clinician and teaching artist for such organizations as the New York Philharmonic and The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and has also presented workshops and master classes for New York University, New York State School Music Association, the American Choral Directors Association, and the New York City Department of Education. 

She is the creator of Cross-Choral Training®, a proven holistic and experiential approach to developing singers in a group setting encompassing functional voice training pedagogy for healthy, authentic singing across a range of musical styles and music literacy and sight-singing approaches based on experiential and sequential learning.