The day I sang at Carnegie Hall

On Tuesday, March 15, the Elmhurst College Concert Choir set off on a six day trip to New York City. They sang at many different places along the way, but the highlight of the trip was a performance at Carnegie Hall. Freshman Natalie Bieri told The Leader about her experience on the trip.  

Tuesday, March 15: People were running everywhere. It was insane. Sue Moninger (the choir director) was packing boxes full of snacks for the bus and people were double-checking everything. A few people were enjoying one last Portillo’s meal before heading off to Portillo’s-free New York. The bus left at 2:30 in the afternoon for a 7 hour drive to Twinsburg, OH. Some people slept. I watched Tangled. When we finally reached the hotel in Ohio, some of the choir members went out. We all had to be back in our rooms by midnight, as we had a long day ahead of us. This doesn’t mean we actually slept--we just had to be in our rooms.


Wednesday, March 16: Breakfast was at 7:00 and we left at 8:00 to sing at our first stop, Twinsburg High School. We performed for some of the school’s choirs both to practice for Carnegie Hall and to (hopefully) induce some students to come to Elmhurst. We got back onto the bus after changing out of our choir polos and khakis. The bus ride was long, but it was nice because you got to talk to people you would not otherwise talk to in choir. After many long hours on the bus, we finally reached New York City! It was late at night, and the buildings were all lit up. When we got to our hotel, the people who were over 21 went out for a night on the town--provided they were back by our 11pm curfew--while the rest of us hung out on the hotel patio where we had a great view of the city.


Thursday, March 17: We checked out of the hotel by 7:00 to go to Queens College, Aaron Copland School of Music. This was sort of a learning day. It started off with an adjudicated performance, where we sang and then received a critique of our singing. We listened to some other choirs perform and then went to a clinic with Dr. Sandra Snow at 10:00. This was followed by a choir exchange, lunch, and then a master class with Andrew Lunsford. At 2:00, we got back on our bus and headed to our new hotel where we got ready to go see a Broadway play. We split up into different groups and explored the theater district around Times Square. My group had dinner at Shake Shack and then had to buy emergency umbrellas because it started to rain. The show, Something Rotten, was a play about two playwrights during Shakespeare’s time who decided to try and outdo Shakespeare by writing the very first musical. It was the funniest play I had ever seen! We were lucky enough to meet the conductor, Phil Reno, and some of the performers afterwards. After the play, we all hung out at the hotel.


Friday, March 18: This was the day we had all been waiting for--the day we finally got to sing at Carnegie Hall! Of course, there was lots to do before our performance that evening. We started the day at the 9/11 Memorial, where we performed Hear My Prayer by Moses Hogan betwen the two waterfalls. It was a very emotional time for some people. After the memorial, we went back to the hotel to grab our concert attire and headed off to Advent Lutheran Church where we rehearsed with Anton Armstrong, Andre Thomas, and the Armonioso Choir. At 5:15 we left for Carnegie Hall where we were going to make our debut as part of the C4| Choral Convergence Celebration Concert, put on by Choirs of America. Some of the pieces, such as a song we were premiering by Andre Thomas we sang with several different choirs; however, we were able to sing two songs, Alleluia by Jake Runestad and Hear My Prayer by Moses Hogan, by ourselves. It was amazing! After the performance, most of the choir members went out to celebrate. Some people hung out with family members who had come to New York to hear us sing. Our curfew was extended to 1:30, but even after this, you could still find choir members having fun on the hotel roof.


Saturday, March 17: This was our last day in New York. We had most of the morning free to explore. I joined a big group of choir members who went to Central Park, where we gave a spontaneous performance. It was awesome! We checked out of our hotel and headed to Pier 16 for lunch and sightseeing. Afterwards, we went on a cruise of the New York City waterfront before getting back on the bus to to head towards home. Our first stop on the way back was State College, PA where we did yet another performance. At the hotel in Pennsylvania, we did our choir award ceremony where each member got an award and the seniors gave speeches. Then we sang for our bus driver, “Mr. Awesome,” who had never heard us sing, even though he’d been with us for five days! It was a very emotional night for all of us as we looked back on all the memories we had made so far as a choir.


Sunday, March 18:. At last our trip was coming to an end. We checked out of our hotel at 5:30 a.m. for a five hour bus ride to Carey, OH. We slept the whole way there. In Carey we gave our last performance at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH. Concert Choir has a tradition of singing in a basilica every year because of the wonderful acoustics they have. After lunch and a tour, we climbed back on board for the last seven hour stretch of our trip. We finally made it back to campus at 7:00, tired but happy, singing the Elmhurst Choir Alma Mater.


Anyone wishing to hear the Concert Choir’s Carnegie Hall program can come to the choir concert on Sunday, April 10, at 2:00 in the chapel.