Youth choir to sing in Carnegie Hall

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Northfield Youth Choirs (NYC) has made it to Carnegie Hall.

Members of the Concert Choir will perform in the world’s most prestigious concert hall, Saturday, June 20, in New York City.

Forty-six Northfield choristers will join with choirs from around the country to sing in the National Children’s Festival Chorus with orchestra, under the direction of renowned conductor Emily Ellsworth. They will perform in the main hall, the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, the stage reserved for such musical luminaries as Isaac Stern, Billie Holiday and the famed New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Elizabeth Shepley, Artistic Director for NYC, said this is an exciting opportunity for the singers both musically and culturally.

“There is so much to be gained by experiencing new sights and sounds together with friends,” she said of the trip to New York. “And doing so in an extraordinary beautiful and inspiring way makes it a win-win for members of NYC and our home community.”

The concert choir, one of seven NYC choirs --- six youth, one intergenerational --- is comprised of middle and high school students.  They will perform an array of choral works, including Handel’s “O Lovely Peace” from Judas Maccabeus, and Mendelssohn’s “Lift Thine Eyes” from Elijah.

The choir and chaperones will arrive in New York City on Wednesday. They will be rehearsing Thursday evening, Friday morning and Saturday afternoon and site-seeing in between. The curtain goes up on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. After more site-seeing Sunday and Monday, they will return home on Monday evening.

Dan Dressen, Chair of the NYC Board of Directors and a member of the St. Olaf College music faculty, calls Carnegie Hall one of the “most significant temples of musical performance in the world.” The opportunity for Northfield choir members to perform there is priceless.

“This will provide these choristers a rare opportunity to perform on a stage associated with most of the great musical icons in classical music,” he said. “Knowing these kids, the moment will not be lost on them.”

The Carnegie Hall experience, Shepley says, is an example of NYC’s effort to inspire young people as they discover the beauty and value of choral singing. She says singing together has cognitive, creative, psychological and physiological benefits. It is a pathway to the soul which touches a spiritual chord and allows young people to express emotion and learn more about who they are. They learn to work together toward a common goal, using their gifts in service to something larger than themselves.

“You can’t escape the fact that singing together, that positive shared experience, helps soften our rough edges and builds empathy for one another,” Shepley said. “I think if we could all sing together, the world would be a better place.”

The NYC, now approaching its 29th season, annually serves more than 200 children from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, college students and adults. It is known for its commitment to nurturing young people through music taught by seasoned, accomplished conductors who both challenge and affirm the singers.

Highlights for the group include performing on Prairie Home Companion, premiering a work at the Northfield Sesquicentennial Governors’ Ball and Northfield Arts Guild’s 50th Anniversary Beaux Arts Ball, and opening the legislative session in the state house chamber. They have performed in Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, UK; Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago; and the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon. 

For more on the NYC, go to: www.northfieldyouthchoirs.org.