Summit Choral Society returns to Carnegie Hall in New York this spring
Help the choir get to New York
Any donations, including airline miles, to help members of the Summit Choral Society get to New York to perform are greatly appreciated. Donations can be sent to Summit Choral Society-New York Trip, P.O. Box 2111, Frisco, CO 80443, or call Joni Thieme-Weinberg at (970) 262-2235.
It’s an honor to be invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City, but as a small community choir, to be invited twice in three years is cause for celebration.
The Summit Choral Society, a local nonprofit choir under the direction of Jill Schroeder-Dorn, will return to the iconic venue over Memorial Day weekend to join forces with choirs from all over the country in a performance under renowned British composer and choral director John Rutter.
THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT
Rutter was also at the helm when the Summit Choral Society performed Brahms’ Requiem in German with the combined choir in 2013, but this year’s visit to New York will be different because the director will be working with his own compositions, Schroeder-Dorn said.
“We did this a few years ago, and it was really so special to be there and to have John Rutter, who is a big name in choral music, to have him as a director,” Schroeder-Dorn said. “It’s going to be with him again, but this time performing his own music, so it will be not only the experience of being at Carnegie Hall but the experience of working with a composer who is also conducting his own music.”
The concert will be Rutter’s final performance as director for the annual program, which gives amateur singers the opportunity to appear in a professional atmosphere.
“There’s a lot of interest surrounding it,” Schroeder-Dorn said. “There will be about 250 singers from around the country, including I think we have 30 going, which is a good size. We’ve had a lot of interest in this trip.”
When the invitation was announced, Bill Kyrioglou, of Summit Cove, who traveled with the choir on its last excursion, was again one of the first to sign up for the trip. Kyrioglou said he studied music in college, and though he didn’t pursue it as a profession, he’s been performing in community bands and church choirs his entire life.
“To have the opportunity to perform under a high-level, world-renowned conductor in a world-famous hall is really pretty special,” he said. “My profession is engineering, and that has a lot less glamour than performing in a major music hall.”
Kyrioglou said there would be a certain level of familiarity with the performance hall and rehearsal spaces the second time around, and possibly a little less anxiety about being on stage, but that doesn’t make the trip any less exciting.
The choir will spend several days in New York prior to the performance rehearsing with Rutter before the concert on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Works to be performed at the concert include Rutter’s “Gloria” “Te Deum” and another New York premiere work for chorus, orchestra and soloists accompanied by the New England Symphony.
“The rehearsals were really fun,” Kyrioglou said, adding that they were also very intense and focused. “There’s a group of about 200 people, maybe a little bit more, from different choirs from around the country that are coming together who have never met and working together on the same goal. They studied their music at home and are now coming together under the direction of the conductor, John Rutter.”
A range of singers from the Summit Choral Society will be going on the trip, from those like Kyrioglou who have already experienced the lights of Carnegie Hall to New York newbies. Beth Seeley falls somewhere in between.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” she said. “I think it will be a total thrill to be able to sing in Carnegie Hall. I’ve never been in Carnegie Hall. We have some cousins in New York that we’d love to have come and hear us. I’m from Boston, so I hope friends will come down and see us.”
Seeley said she has no idea what to expect, but she is looking forward to traveling with the group and stepping onto that iconic stage.
“I just joined a year ago, right about this time, and I’ve gotten to know a few of the people, but other than a few friends that I knew beforehand and a few that I’ve gotten to know well in the last year, I feel like there are many more that I don’t know well,” she said. “When you do something like this, you’re off together for several days and it gives you an opportunity to get to know people better, and I think that will be a lot of fun.
Kyrioglou said being invited back to New York is a reflection of how well prepared the choir was the last time it performed there, and Seeley said working with Schroeder-Dorn has been outstanding and the choir really appreciates her leadership. Schroeder-Dorn gave credit back to the members of the choir.
“It’s a group of people who are very dedicated to learning music and to learning it well,” she said. “I did this two years ago, and my hope is we have the same experience. It was a difficult piece of music, and every week I would have a learning schedule: Come to rehearsal next week, know the fist movement, the second week, the second movement, and with such a strong group of people, they did that. They took the initiative to learn it on their own, so when we put it all together, we could really rehearse the music, rather than trying to figure out the right notes.”
The choir will spend the next month preparing for its annual holiday concert and then will break into practicing Rutter’s music in earnest, preparing to shine on one of the most famous stages in the world.
“I’m not an accomplished singer,” Seeley said. “I joined (the choir) because I haven’t sung in years and it gave me an opportunity to try something that’s a creative outlet and a lot of fun, so to say we’re going to Carnegie Hall is just — I’m speechless and excited.”
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