Red Mountain High School choir students will soon perform on the same stage as Tchaikovsky, Judy Garland and The Beatles—Carnegie Hall.
The students will participate in “The Holiday Music of Eric Whitacre” at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 24, joining other ensembles from around the world. Whitacre is a Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor who has released many chart-topping albums.
Tickets, $20 to $100, can be purchased at dciny.org.
“It kind of feels like a trip with family, even though my actual family will be like 5,000 miles away,” said senior choir member Rhiannon Viersen.
The choirs were invited to perform by Distinguished Concerts International New York, which produces concerts that bring together musicians from around the world. Red Mountain choir teacher Lindsay Decoste said the group was invited last fall.
“Oh my gosh, I was shocked—completely shocked,” she said.
A second-year teacher, Decoste said this is the choir’s biggest event since she came on board. Under the previous director, the choir performed at Carnegie Hall several years before.
The 40-member choir’s trip was open to any of the students, but they had to pay for it themselves. They have been prepping for the show since they were asked in November—even in the summer. Students were required to attend rehearsals during lunch and after school, and practice at home.
Before students committed, Decoste said she explained to them, “You can’t go on this trip if you’re not going to do the work, because they have to go home, and they have to look at it on their own.”
One of the pieces Decoste said the choir has been working on a 64-page rendition of “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.”
“I’ve heard from Miss D that it’s really hilarious and I’m excited to learn it,” said senior Ty Cook. “We’ve kind of gone over little bits of it, but we haven’t gone over the whole thing.”
Decoste said the students are excited about the trip and she’s teaching them how to settle their nerves.
“I sang at Carnegie Hall my junior year of high school. What I see from them is very similar to what I had, where it was like I wasn’t even thinking about nerves, it was literally just that I get to sing at Carnegie Hall,” she said.
The choir students will spend four days in New York City, where they will not only perform at Carnegie Hall, but experience the city’s history and culture. The same day as their concert, the students will see the “Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Frozen” as well as visits to Times Square and the 9/11 Museum and Memorial are also on the itinerary.
“I’m really excited for the rehearsals actually. I am a nerd about choir stuff,” said Eliza Blackhurst, a junior who has been in choir for the last three years.
“We’re working with Eric Whitaker who’s a really big choral director, and his music is always super complicated and complex. So, I’m excited to see how he approaches things.”
For many of the students, this will be their first time visiting New York City and being away from their families.
“I’m so excited to see all these kids see New York for the first time. I’ve been to New York a lot of times,” Decoste said. “And there’s nothing like seeing New York City.”