By Sam Jack
The Haysville Middle School Treble Choir sang at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, June 24, performing a world-premiere work alongside members of other youth choirs from around the world.
The 49 students and five sponsors who participated spent the months leading up to the trip working on fundraising projects, including a “Carnegie Palooza” concert that drew several popular acts to Haysville last December.
The reward was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, according to choir director Paul Graves.
“For all but one, it was their first time in New York, and for most of the girls, it was their first time to fly,” Graves said. “Traveling with 55 people through the subway system was a little bit of a challenge, but we worked through it. They got the true New York experience.”
Carnegie Hall is one of America’s most iconic venues, having hosted performances by the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Peter Frampton. To prepare for their Carnegie Hall debut, treble choir members took part in two intensive rehearsals with clinician and composer Cristian Grases. Each rehearsal ran almost five hours.
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“(Grases) was very laid back, and just very even keel,” Graves said. “To see it all come together, and to see everybody coming in so well prepared, he was very impressed with that. They didn’t need to spend a lot of time learning the music; it was all about putting it together and making it happen.”
The students spent most of Sunday at Carnegie Hall, running through a final rehearsal and then waiting for their turn onstage.
“They were nervous, but they were excited,” Graves said. The performance went very well.
When they were not performing or rehearsing, the choir members had plenty of time for sightseeing. They took a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall; ascended to the top of the Empire State Building; saw the Broadway musical “Aladdin;” and dined at the Hard Rock Cafe. Graves said he appreciated the support from parents, family and members of the public that made the trip possible.
“In total, I think it came to like $106,000 to send everybody. That was quite an amount of money to bring in, because we didn’t find out until relatively late. They grabbed the challenge. They wanted to go, and they made it happen,” he said.