How did singers from the Children's Chorus of Carroll County get invited to perform at Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
On Saturday, 33 singers from the choir between the ages of 12 and 17 will participate in the National Children's Chorus Festival, presented by Manhattan Concert Productions. The group will perform alongside children's choruses from Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, California, Mississippi and Ontario, Canada.
Diane Jones, director of the Children's Chorus of Carroll County, said it was an honor to be accepted to be a part of such an exclusive festival.
"When we found out about the festival, we sent in an audition tape of our singers," Jones said. "We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know if we'd be selected or not. When we found out, it was a thrill."
Choruses from around the U.S. and Canada auditioned for the concert, with only a select few being chosen. At the concert, the choir members will perform Astor Piazzola's "Libertango;" "How Can I Keep From Singing" by Gwyneth Walker; Mendelson's "Lift Thine Eyes;" the opening chorus from "The Bartered Bride" by Bedrich Smetana; and the Appalachian folk song "Oh, Shenandoah."
The group has been rehearsing since September, with a bit of an extended season, Jones said. They wrapped their spring concert in May and have been dedicated to the New York performance ever since. A month ago, the group had to record a secondary video proving to organizers of the concert that they are rehearsing the material.
"They should be real proud," Jones said. "This is some advanced repertoire the students are performing. This is stuff they sing in college choirs. It's a really high level. I hope they come back having a very enriched experience."
Alexa Hayman, 14, of Westminster, said it was exciting to learn pieces that were more difficult than the chorus is used to.
"We've been working really hard on this challenging material," Hayman said. "My favorite song is 'How Can I Keep From Singing.' It's a different version than you would hear in church. I like it because sometimes I don't know how I can keep from singing."
Hayman said she's been a part of the chorus for nine years and participated in last year's trip to Europe. She said she was more excited to perform at Carnegie Hall, though.
"I love singing, and I like everything about the chorus," Hayman said. "It's been so fun to be a part of such a great organization that builds confidence."
Though the hall opened as a performing space for opera companies and orchestras, it has since grown to encompass every genre of music. Bill Haley and the Comets, best known for "Rock Around the Clock," was the first rock 'n' roll group to perform at the hall, paving the way for Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Lee Lewis, David Bowie and more.
Dominic Bechtel, 12, of Westminster, said he is most excited to perform where so many of his musical heroes have.
"I've been to New York, but I've never been to Carnegie Hall. The Beatles performed there, and all of these rock people performed in that same space," Bechtel said. "I never thought I'd be a part of a chorus singing there."
The group traveled to New York on Friday and is planning to return Sunday. Though the group will be busy with practices, Bechtel said there will still be some time for sightseeing.
"I'd like to see the Empire State Building because who doesn't want to see the Empire State Building?" Bechtel said. "But Carnegie Hall is still the biggie. I can't believe we're going there."
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