Rhinebeck’s Devin Pickering & the tale of the YouTube chorus

Bao Nguyen photo of the PS 22 Chorus posing for their yearbook picture

Rhinebeck’s Devin Pickering is the editor of a new documentary called Once in a Lullaby, which is premiering at the TriBeCa Film Festival on April 29. The film, which he also hopes to show at the Woodstock Film Festival (he just submitted the application) chronicles the rise to fame of a chorus at a Staten Island public school after the kids posted videos of their performances on YouTube, which went viral, garnering more than 80 million hits. The video attracted the attention of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, who subsequently visited the school. The film ends with the chorus performing at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony.

“It’s a hometown-hero story,” said Devin, who has spent the past year working on the film. The April 29 premiere should be a showstopper itself: After the film showing, some of the kids will perform and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supposed to show up.


The real hero of the film, Devin added, is music teacher Gregg Breinberg, who took an unconventional approach in directing the chorus. “Gregg would do renditions of pop songs, which the kids posted online,” said Devin. “His teaching method basically lets them feel the music. They can move around, which enables them to sing better.”

Twenty-six-year-old Devin himself is something of a wunderkind: Besides being a film editor, he’s a musician who also composed the score, collaborating with his father, Danny Pickering, at his music production studio in Red Hook. “It was really great to work with him. He has such a great ear, and also a vast experience.”

Devin said that his family’s roots in entertainment go back to vaudeville days. He and his Dad “used to play music together, but I’ve been pursuing my own stuff lately. I played drums when I was very young, then picked up the piano and guitar. I do my arrangements on the piano and then transpose them to instruments. I’ve been working on a record for the last three months.”

Devin made his first film when he was just 14, which was shown at the Woodstock Film Festival. While still a teenager Devin worked on TV segments, and through his Hudson Valley connections met Robert Stone, an Oscar-winning director and fellow Rhinebeck resident.

All the connections in the world don’t matter if you don’t pick up the creative gauntlet and go for it, which Devin has clearly done. Stay tuned for local showings of Once in a Lullaby in the fall – or head down to the City on April 29 to sample the inspiring work of this young film editor and composer. For more information, log on to https://www.wix.com/pickeringdevin/dp-web-v1.