By Alex Cash (Courtesy Photo: LC Choir in Chicago last spring)
The voices of one of the Lumen Christi High School choirs are so strong, they are carrying them all the way to New York City. On Sunday, April 15th, 36 students of the Lumen Christi Cantoribus Choir will be living a dream by performing at Carnegie Hall.
“It has been the greatest gift to me as an educator to see our students take the skills they have learned and share their gifts with the world,” says Justin Marcero, choir leader at Lumen Christi.
The young performers, some lifelong musicians, are very honored by this invitation. “Receiving the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall is once in a lifetime experience and a lifelong personal dream of mine. I’ve been a musician all my life and between my love for orchestra and vocal performance, music has made a huge impact in who I am as a person,” said junior choir member Hailey Rogers.
In fall of 2016, Marcero was invited by a travel company to take his choir to one of the many festivals around the country to sing. Seeing as it was his first group trip as an educator, he chose to take them to Chicago the following spring, a manageable distance away. It proved to be the right decision as their performance at a Chicago festival, earned them a gold metal rating and an invitation to sing at Carnegie Hall.
Marcero explains that his choir is one of the many qualified from around the country to sing at the April performance. They will be joining together to make one large choir to perform the same pieces of music. However, the choir from Lumen Christi has received a special opportunity that will set them apart from the rest of the choirs performing.
As part of the invitation for the trip, groups were invited to submit a blind audition to become the featured choir. Marcero submitted the group’s performance from Chicago and their talent showcased there earned them that very distinction. In addition to the six pieces they will be performing as part of a larger choir, they get to perform three pieces on their own.
Several hours per week of group rehearsals help to get the students ready for their big day. Marcero asks his students to memorize the music on their own before each rehearsal, and with nine pieces to sing, he admits it’s a lot. They will be performing a wide variety of music; everything from Vivaldi to music from video games. One of their pieces, “Baba Yetu” was the first song nominated and won a Grammy award as a song created for a video game.
The students surely have the dedication required. “We practice for at least a half an hour just about every day. I play the music in my car, while I’m studying, you name it. Our music group needs to make sure everything is Carnegie-worthy,” said senior choir member CJ Semenchuk.
The financial component to make the trip happen has taken the students just as much work as the singing preparation. They have done many fundraising projects such as babysitting nights around Christmas where parents could drop off their kids for the students to care for while parents went shopping. They sang for the Knights of Columbus Annual Dinner where they received donations. Additionally, they have done numerous other smaller fundraisers to make their dream possible.
A lot of hard work and the spirit of community were instrumental in getting the group the opportunities they have been awarded. “We’re all one big family, all of us get along with one another, and I feel like that’s how we’ve gotten to where we are now,” said Semenchuk.
In in whirlwind five-day trip the students will be diligently spending nine to 10 hours in group rehearsals and performance. However, they will also have the opportunity to enjoy some of New York City’s most famous sights. They will visit the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, see The School of Rock on Broadway, and of course experience the historic Carnegie Hall.
With all the fun and hard work that will be packed into their New York City weekend, the students and educators alike all seem to be most excited for the moments they get to spend on stage together.
“The fact that we will be in New York in a few weeks hasn’t really set in yet, but I think that all of the choir, myself included, is so ready to just be there and to be able to have those few intimate moments on stage with each other,” said Rogers.
Alexandra Cash is a Jackson native with a passion for world travel, culture, lifetime learning, and adventure. Visit her website to read stories of her adventures at alexandracash.com or view her videos on YouTube at Alexandra Cash – Cash’s Corner.