According to one of entertainment’s oldest one-liners, the surest path to New York City’s storied Carnegie Hall is “practice, practice, practice.”
It also helps to be a member of Elmhurst College’s Concert Choir.
The choir, under the direction of Susan Moninger, made its Carnegie Hall debut on March 18, as one of 18 student choirs from 11 states and Canada invited to participate in the 2016 Choirs of America Nationals for Top Choirs. The 53-member ensemble participated in two days of vocal workshops and master classes at the legendary venue in midtown Manhattan. In the event’s climactic Friday night concert, the Elmhurst students sang as part of a 200-plus-member festival choir, then were featured in “spotlight” performances that won enthusiastic applause from the audience and from the other participating choirs.
“It’s the experience of a lifetime,” Moninger said of singing at Carnegie Hall. “It is something our students will never forget.”
During its visit to New York City, the choir also performed at the National 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan, singing the American composer Moses Hogan’s reverent “Hear My Prayer” on the windswept plaza between the two reflecting pools that mark where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood.
“We were so honored to have the opportunity to sing at the 9/11 Memorial,” Moninger said. “It was a truly spiritual experience.”
The Carnegie Hall performance was only the latest high-profile appearance for Elmhurst’s singers. The concert choir performed with Andrea Bocelli on his 2014 world tour, at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Bobby McFerrin in a presentation of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess at the Ravinia Festival. The choir also appeared on PBS stations nationwide in a 2013 production of A Christmas Carol that was nominated for an Emmy Award. But the choir’s singers called their Carnegie Hall appearance uniquely memorable.
“It’s the pinnacle for any performer,” said senior Kipa Kaupu. “We’ve had some incredible opportunities, but there is nothing like Carnegie Hall.”
“All you have to do is think of the history of the place and all the artists that have performed there,” said senior Gina Carlson. “No matter what else we do, we’re always going to remember this.”