Art Beat: Local choir invited to sing at Carnegie Hall

People sing in a local choir for a number of reasons, fellowship and a love of music are just a couple of them.

For a local group their hard work and passion is being rewarded with a chance to perform in one of the most famous venues in the world. Their story is in this week's Art Beat.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice and that's something the members of the First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir knows well.

This group of talented singers is headed to New York City in November to sing in the prestigious concert hall.

The invitation from the Distinguished Concerts International New York City isn't an easy one to get.

Paul Robinson, Director of Worship Arts, Organist, says "Well DCINY that puts together concerts at Carnegie Hall, they have scouts that look for groups all over the US to come and be part of concerts there and they happen to run across a video of ours, a Christmas Cantata in December and then sent us an invite to be part of that performance."

At a recent rehearsal the director told his choir the thrilling news.

Michele Johnson, Choir Member, says "Well, I think just the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall is major. It's very, very exciting to go to New York City for the culture and history that's there. Many in our choir have not made that trip before so it's going to be very exciting. "

Stephen Bone, Choir Member, says "It's not very often that a choir, a church choir of our size gets to go to New York and sing in Carnegie Hall. It is an experience that I'll never get again and so I'm definitely going to take full advantage of it."

This won't be the first time this director has performed on the famous stage, but for him the second appearance will have special meaning.
Paul Robinson says "A number of years ago I had the opportunity to sing myself with the St.Louis Symphony and it's one of those things you check off your bucket list, it's an amazing experience but the fact that this is so much more rewarding in the fact that it's a group that I direct and it's a group of amateur singers who probably wouldn't have gotten this opportunity otherwise."

Many of these singers have been sharing their talent in this choir for decades, and they each sing every Sunday for a number of reasons.

Michele Johnson says "I love the music, I love the people and a core value of our church is beautiful worship and so it's wonderful to be a part of the Cancel Choir and help provide some of that beauty and worship time."

Stephen Bone says "There's a deep passion for us singing in the choir. Paul is very talented. We are very lucky to have him here at First Presbyterian."

The First Presbyterian Choir is currently preparing for their upcoming Palm Sunday concert.

In the next few months they start working on the pieces they will sing in New York City.

They will learn them along with other choirs and join together for a large ensemble of approximately 250 to 300 singers.

Most of the choir members plan on bringing family with them on the trip their biggest supporters for years.

Michele Johnson says "Because they sacrifice a lot for church choir people. They give up most of a night each week to practice and come early on Sundays and when you multiple that for years and years they're part of the ministry as well. "

Look for upcoming fundraisers to help fund the choir's November trip. In the meantime, anyone interested in seeing the choir has a chance every week.

Stephen Bone says "If you want to come hear us sing we're here every Sunday."