Practice Made Perfect at Carnegie Hall


John Jay Chorale performing at Carnegie Hall

On Monday April 11th, John Jay’s Chorale had the privilege to perform at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall to take part in the National Choral Festival–and what an experience it was. Seven choral groups from around the country came together and experienced the surreality of performing on such a grand stage. Parents and friends filled the hall, cheering all of the participants on. The time spent preparing for such a performance was tiring but proved to pay off, in what conductor Steven Morse could only describe as “fantabulous”.

Initially, we ventured into a worn-out building about 3 blocks from the theater. Here, we were fortunate enough to take a one-on-one workshop with Dr. Heather J. Buchanan, the Professor of Music at Montclair State University and the director of choral activities for the festival. Being a professional clinician, Dr. Buchanan listened to our repertoire while showing us techniques and principles that would further enhance our performance. Not only did she work with the students, but she also worked with Mr. Morse and his method of conducting. She honed in on the importance of storytelling within a piece. Dr. Buchanan said that as vocalists, we have the duty to create emotion so that the audience can fully interpret a song. She also talked about performing at the hall: “Singing at Carnegie can be a bit weird at first. Because of the acoustics, it’ll sound as if you are the only one singing.” Her knowledge and advice is something that we did not take for granted.

So why is Carnegie such an impressive stage that is known worldwide? The beautiful theater has had its fair share of performers such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. But The Hall isn’t just for music. Famous lecturers have presented here as well. The variety of acts and the cultural excellence have made Carnegie Hall an essential part of  the fabric of New York City as well as the most famous concert hall in the world. A local musical professional commented on the importance of the famous location for the arts: “When you get to Carnegie, go on stage and do a little impromptu tap dance. Then you can tell people you danced at Carnegie Hall as well. I do that that on famous stages all over the world!”

In a brief interview with Mr. Morse, he talked about his favorite part of the trip: “During our first crescendo [a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music] in our first piece, Oh My Dove, I heard the reverb coming from the hall. Hearing the sound was something else, and knowing how special it was for the audience made it all the more memorable.” This is something that has been on his bucket list and now he can say that he has conducted a choir at Carnegie Hall. Morse continued, “It’s so difficult to put into words the depth of emotion conveyed by music in general, but performed in a venue like this, it becomes impossible.” The exhilarating experience was one for the ages.