The big day we all have been waiting for had finally come – the amazing opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall! The Voices of Unity Youth Choir had spent the last few days taking in the magnificence of the big city. Our first day was full of logistics and long hours sitting in a bus trying to get everyone safely to New York. We finished off our first day by visiting the big city and taking in all of the sights and lights.
Our second day was put into full gear with a morning of inspiration and prayer led by Mr. Chris Richardson. We had our first performance of the trip at Harlem Children’s Zone, where we celebrated the work of renowned social activist Mr. Geoffrey Canada. After our performance,we were lucky enough to catch the Broadway show, the “Lion King.” We even sang for an international crowd afterwards. The cast was able to hear us perform and congratulated the choir on our accomplishments.
The third day was very productive as we spent the day at Queens College. We received performance reviews and critiques by Choirs of America and got great input on how to improve our performance. Afterwards we attended several workshops by the likes of Dr. Andre Thomas and Mr. Rollo Dilworth, who helped us fine tune us for our upcoming Carnegie Hall performance.
Yesterday, our fourth day and most anticipated day was nothing short of spectacular. The day started off early with a rehearsal at Union Theological Seminary. It was followed by a re-gathering at our hotel where we had one last rehearsal in the hotel’s conference room for the big performance ahead.
From there, we hurried back to our rooms to get ready for the big show. The youth choir dressed, did their hair and make up and helped one another make sure everyone looked outstanding. We were ready for the show that we have been preparing for months. We double and triple checked everything and did a few last minute preparations. Once we were ready, we lined up outside the hotel and boarded the buses. We were on our way!
We our way back to New York City and arrived early at Carnegie Hall. We were more than ready to perform. Once outside, the choir anxiously waited for the doors to open to the performers. In the meantime, they did singing drills, helped each other relax, and interacted with New Yorkers. Even during the waiting time, the Voices of Unity was most lively choir!
Finally, the doors to Carnegie Hall had finally opened for the choir members, they went in and prepared for the big night. A few hours later, the lobby of Carnegie was packed with youth choir teams, family, friends and fans. Supporters of the Voices of Unity and other youth choirs quickly filled the seats as the theatre opened. As the different audiences entered the hall, they were in awe of the beauty and majesty of Carnegie. What an amazing opportunity for the Voices of Unity and the many, renowned choirs from around the country!
The Voices of Unity was seated on the floor seats with the rest of the choir, excited to perform at the legendary hall. Spirits were running throughout the theatre as excited choirs and family members were drawing closer to the performance, the Voices of Unity were no exception.
The performance was separated into three different set; we were with the first set of youth choirs to perform, along with three other choirs from around the nation that included the Grandioso Choir and Chattanooga Girls Chorus. As one large group, the choirs all performed “Hanacpachap Cussicuinin” among other tracks.
Finally, the big moment came for the Voices of Unity, where they would perform Mr. Marshall White’s arrangement of “What A Wonderful World”. As all other choirs on stage sat down, the Voices of Unity stood united ready for their moment to represent Fort Wayne, Indiana in New York City in front of thousands of spectators listening in the theatre.
Silence spread throughout the theatre as all eyes were fixed on the Voices of Unity. Mr. Marshall White walked out and took his place on the piano. As he started playing, the students started to sing, slowly the theatre filled with the beautiful voices of the Fort Wayne native choir. Their performance was powerful, and delivered in a way that could not be classified as anything less than what is expected from the World Champions that they are.
Once their performance was over, Grant Gershon, a conductor who is Grammy Award-nomiated for his recording of “Sweeney Todd” with the New York Philharmonic Special Editions, walked back on stage, turned to the choir and simply said, “WOW!”. His comment was accompanied by a roaring applause from the crowd. Their hard work and dedication the last few months had paid off; it was an amazing moment indeed!
After performing a few more songs on stage with the other talented choirs, they were all applauded by the theatre and neatly got off stage. The rest of the night was filled with performances from other excellent choirs. Every one did such a magnificent job and had a unique and refreshing performance. The night was truly filled by talent worthy of Carnegie Hall. The final song of the night was the world premiere of Mr. Rollo Dilworth’s rendition of “Rockin’ Jerusalem.” The performance rocked the house as every choir (over 600 students) participated and sang with excellent and excitement.
The powerful night was over and the choirs shuffled out to family and friends before heading back to their busses. As the Voices of Unity made their way to their bus, their excitement and gratitude for the opportunity was difficult to hide. Their bright faces shown with pride of a job well done. Performing at Carnegie Hall is a moment we will never forget and we’re proud to represent Fort Wayne on one of the greatest halls in the world.
The raw emotion was prominent on the busses as we made our way to the hotel after an amazing night. From the morning rehearsal to the final moments on stage, everyone on the choir was fully invested, performing at their excellence. When we returned to the hotel, we took a few celebratory pictures. This was especially true for all of the seniors of the choir who would soon be making their way to further their education on the collegiate level.
The celebration was not only with the students; staff and volunteers also celebrated the success of our trip. The tremendous team who made the trip possible was happy to see the beautiful performance put on by the youth choir. They proved that with discipline, dedication and motivation they could achieve anything. The truth in their name rang through everyone’s hearts at Carnegie Hall and New York City. Their voices truly did unite everyone on and off that stage which is something that is only achieved by people who truly care and love one another.
Mr. Marshall White expressed his love for everyone, making a special effort to tell them what a great job they did. His smile throughout the rest of the night was apparent as he hugged and laughed with the choir members. His proud look inspired a radiating positive energy throughout the entire group. The hard work he had put into the choir had paid off with tremendous results, it was as special of a night as it was for the choir.
The Voices of Unity Youth Choir represented Fort Wayne, Indiana in a tremendous way. They stole the hearts of those who were experiencing the Voices of Unity for the first time and continued to impress those who have heard them sing before. From performing and attracting the attention of the cast in the lobby of a Broadway show to showing their worthiness at Carnegie Hall, we all have something to be very proud of.
The youth choir will not stop Carnegie or New York. We will continue our representation of Fort Wayne to Riga, Lativa in the following weeks. Our return to Fort Wayne will be followed by strict and disciplined rehearsals to bring home the gold once again in the 2014 World Choir Games. You can continue your support of the choir by donating at www.upaf.com.
Thank you for your continued support – it has made a world of difference in the lives of everyone not only in the Voices of Unity Youth Choir, but in Fort Wayne as well. It has given them opportunities they might have never had otherwise. From performing at the legendary Carnegie Hall to competing internationally in Eastern Europe, the choir has been inspired to be a part of something greater than themselves and value their worth as individuals and a team. Riga, Lativa, here we come! We are the Voices of Unity!
See all of the pictures from our amazing fourth day and the rest of the trip on our Facebook page. You can also follow our journey live on Twitter and Instagram as well as our hashtag #VoicesofUnityNYC!