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The Averett Singers Prepare for Dream Trip to Carnegie Hall

March 2, 2010

By Sarah Rubenoff, '10

The words Carnegie Hall inspire the dreams of musicians everywhere. Averett University's very own Averett Singers have been invited to perform on the legendary stage of New York City's, Carnegie hall. The historical landmark has hosted musical geniuses such as Luciano Pavarotti, Duke Ellington, and Yo Yo Ma. The singers will perform at Carnegie Hall this April 17th.

The Averett Singers last performed at Carnegie Hall in 2007, when they received an invitation from the Manhattan Concert Productions Company to sing at a choral event.

"It was an exceptional experience to stand on the stage of Carnegie Hall that has such an amazing history," said Joan Kahwajy-Anderson, director of counseling services, and member of the Averett Singers.

Many of the choral students are underclassmen who have heard the upperclassman's stories of Carnegie Hall and wish to have stories of their own. The 2007 experience is cherished and the Averett Singers are eager to take advantage of this opportunity, once again.

"It is a humbling experience to stand on the stage of Carnegie Hall and sense the presence of artists that have stood there before," said Dr. Anne Lewis, associate professor of music. Lewis will be singing with the Averett Singers when they reach the stage.

Dr. Gail Allen, chair, department of music, and Averett Singers conductor, was personally invited to participate in this year's Distinguished Concert Singers International at Carnegie Hall, by a long time friend, fellow conductor, and former dissertation advisor, Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt. Apfelstadt is the Director of Choral Activities at the Ohio State University and one of the most respected conductors in America.

On Saturday night April 17th, the Averett Singers will take the stage of Carnegie Hall with many other participating choirs, to sing a complex and difficult repertoire. The haunting collection includes Nanie, by Brahms, and Festival Jubilate, by Amy Beach.

Nanie is especially challenging because it is written in German. The complex harmonies are complimented by the interesting but difficult German diction. This piece provides the students with the priceless experience of singing in a foreign language. For many of the singers, this is their first exposure to the German language.

Singing large-scale major choral literature is an opportunity that most small universities cannot provide. An understanding of this caliber of music is crucial to the aspiring musician's education. This concert will also provide the students with the opportunity to experience singing with full orchestral accompaniment.

The stage of Carnegie Hall represents the apex of most musician's life-long hopes and goals. "To stand on that stage is any musicians dream," said Brentt Simmons, member of the Averett Singers. The students have come together to make sure this dream comes to fruition.

The trip to Carnegie Hall costs approximately $1,200 per participating student. There are 20 choral students planning on going and they have been actively fundraising since the initial invitation. They have raised close to half of the trips costs through benefit concerts, generous donations, and merchandise sales. The Averett Singers plan to organize a raffle in the near future that may include items such as, an Ipod Nano and a Nintendo Wii. The students will continue their efforts until they reach their financial goal.

"I want to be able to say that I sang on the stage of Carnegie Hall; now that's a big deal," said Robbie Hendrix, member of the Averett Singers.

This trip is not only a "big deal", but is also an unparalleled musical education opportunity. Most music students will sit in the front row of a Carnegie Hall production; the Averett Singers will be on stage.