I’ve been reflecting on our Carnegie Hall experience quite a lot and am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to bring a handful of my students to that great stage, but there is so much more to take away from the experience than just walking through that particular threshold, great as it is.
Those kids worked hard to learn their music: they came to rehearsals each week, practiced on their own with all of the learning tools made available to them, passed a final audition for confirmation of their participation and learned what they could about that sacred space and the composers of the music to be rehearsed and performed before their arrival. Most had worked with Dr. Hampton at Ithaca College a few years ago and had a good idea of what to expect from the experience, but they didn’t take that for granted. They knew they’d be working hard once they arrived. Their preparation freed them to focus their attention on their director and the music. They never took their eyes off him, they were able to respond and communicate with skill, flexibility, confidence and humor because they had done their work. Because of this, they had fun.
What always gets me is that ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you perform when you’re in the care of a director who understands what is needed to reanimate a composer’s intentions and who understands the pedagogy needed to get a young musician to the point at which that initial creative/compositional spark and performance unite. It doesn’t matter if you’re at Carnegie Hall, your classroom or wherever… it is about the music, about the relationship cultivated between the ensemble members, between the director and ensemble, ensemble and audience.
That said, being the tallest alto in the back row and therefore the first person to walk out on that stage, I had time to stand at that hallowed threshold and really feel the presence of my musical heroes who have walked that path and felt an overwhelming pride to be able to lead my students through the door onto that stage. They get it and I wanted to share a few of their comments — they’re invaluable:
“While standing on that stage, an immense feeling of joy came over me and it is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.” Aliceson Drollette
“Nothing has humbled me like walking out on that magnificent stage. Everyone worked so hard to reach this point and I could feel it in the room.” Connor Sheehan
“My experience at Carnegie Hall was one of awe and wonder. Never had I felt so fulfilled until this great event.” Adam Mero
“It’s a strange feeling to be able to say that you did something that so few people get to accomplish, especially at such a young age.” Mat Longware
“Without everyone’s help and support, there wouldn’t be such a big place in my heart for music.” Mat Longware
“There was a room full of dedicated, concentrated, professional people and it made you want to work your hardest so you could support each other.” Max Longware
“I will definitely be telling my children about thEE excellent, thEE outstanding, thEE awesome, and thEE amazing trip!” Olivia Politi
One of the funniest moments came after big mess of a first read-through of one of the selections. To be honest, it was a train wreck. Doc really kept everything positive and moving forward, but at this point he rolled up his sleeves and said, “Alright, the next contestants for the hot mess contest are the tenors — let’s work.”
THANK YOU to everyone who has played a part in this adventure. It was one we’ll never forget!
- North Country Students to Perform at Ithaca College High School Gospel Choir Festival (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Adirondack Students Learn Robotics from West Point Cadets in Essex (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Area Students to Compete at North Country History Day (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Help Send Willsboro Students to Carnegie Hall (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)