Choir gave Arizona native chance to sing at convention – and much more

Members of the Commonwealth Youthchoirs performing for the Democratic Natioanal Convention this week. The singers, from every state and territory, performed remotely. (Photo courtesy Commonwealth Youthchoirs)

WASHINGTON – Phoenix native Holly Binswanger said it was “neat” that Commonwealth Youthchoirs gave her the opportunity to perform before a national audience at the Democratic National Convention this week, but that’s not the best thing the choir has given her.

That would have been her husband.

Binswanger met her husband, Eric, in 2005 while she was on an East Coast tour with the Phoenix Girls Chorus and stayed with Eric’s best friend, a member of the Keystone State Boychoir.

That began what would become a 13-year, long-distance courtship between Holly and Eric, a founding member of the Commonwealth Youthchoirs, that culminated with their wedding last October.

“As a choir conductor, like any business, it’s a small world,” said Steve Fisher, founder of the Commonwealth Youthchoirs, who assembled current and former members of his choir from across the country to perform Monday.

“Knowing this awesome story of Holly having met Eric through choir, it just seemed like a great opportunity to call them in,” Fisher said.

That call came out of the blue for Binswanger, who said she had not performed with a choir in years. But when Fisher called looking for someone with an Arizona tie to be in the DNC performance, she picked up the phone.

“It was really neat. Not only was it fun to go to choir practice for the first time in just about a decade, but you also get to meet people from all over the country and see Mr. Fisher and all the other staff,” she said.

Holly and Eric Binswanger at their October 2019 wedding. The couple met through Commonwealth Youthchoirs, which performed at their wedding. (Photo courtesy of Holly Binswanger)

Over the course of three days, Fisher worked with children and adults from all 50 states and the U.S. territories to rehearse for the convention, where they performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The rehearsals and the performance itself were conducted online, with the singers taping their performances remotely, a feat of organization that Fisher joked was accomplished with “really good attention-deficit medication.”

Video of the performance posted by NBC and ABC on YouTube had received more than 150,000 views combined in the last two days.

“People tend to think choirs are just these nice little things,” Fisher said. “But you can see the way we captured the country. Even watching Republicans saying, ‘God, that choir was awesome.’ That’s just the incredible power of young people singing together.?

It’s not the first time the Democrats have called on the choir, which performed at the 2016 convention that was held in Philadelphia.

Binswanger said it was awesome to perform during such a historic moment and have her voice represent Arizona. It’s not the only time the choir’s performance marked a big moment in her life – it performed at her and Eric’s wedding.

“I think Holly even has the distinction of having more singers in her wedding choir than (guests who) attended her wedding,” Fisher joked.

That’s why Fisher thought of Binswanger as the potential Arizona voice in the choir, and it’s why Binswanger jumped at the chance to perform.

“The choir, and music in general, have really been around for the most important parts of my life,” she said.

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Chase Hunter is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in philosophy. Hunter has worked at an award-winning school newspaper, interned at the Arizona Republic and contributed to a documentary for the Cronkite School.