A social media post by the parent of a member of Chancellor High School’s Vocal Ensemble has sparked an invitation for the group to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in February.
Director Rhonda Miller said a 2-year-old video of the school’s top choir performing “Windsong” by Dan Forrest that a parent posted on YouTube caught the attention of concert-producing organization Distinguished Concerts International New York.
The 27-person Vocal Ensemble was selected by DCINY’s artistic board to join choirs from around the world in a performance of “Requiem” by Maurice Duruflé on Feb. 19.
“We are the only high school performing in this part of the concert,” Miller said. “We’re so excited and thrilled to be able to do this. It’s the experience of a lifetime, it really is.”
She has been rehearsing the performance piece with the students during school this semester. They will rehearse in New York with the rest of the Distinguished Concert Singers International for five nine-to-10-hour days before the concert.
“The Duruflé is a major choral work,” Miller said. “It’s very challenging—all in Latin, which is a stretch for these high school students. It’s been a learning experience and will continue to be as we move into the event.”
She said that for the past four years, the Vocal Ensemble has been performing Level 6 musical literature, the highest level for choirs in Virginia.
“A few years ago, I would pick literature at the beginning of the year and would have to throw out half of it because it was too hard,” she said. “But within the last four years, everything I throw at them is not hard enough and I have to keep increasing the difficulty level. This is an extremely talented group of kids.”
The group will travel to New York by charter bus and will be staying in a hotel within walking distance of the rehearsal space and of Carnegie Hall.
Miller said the students have been “fundraising like crazy” to afford the trip.
“But regardless, we have to pay over $500 per person and there are two of our students who just couldn’t afford it,” she said. “I really wish we didn’t have to leave the two behind.”
For those who can’t travel to New York to see them, the Vocal Ensemble will perform a free concert at the downtown Fredericksburg branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library on Friday at 7 p.m.
“The Duruflé won’t be ready yet, but we’ll be performing a variety of things we’ve done in the last two years,” Miller said.
She said she and the students are “excited and thrilled” about the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall.
“They’re a very capable group,” Miller said. “They work hard, they sound fabulous and I’m just very honored to be part of this with them.”