How you get to Carnegie Hall

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Most of the 40 Choral Union members who performed at Carnegie Hall Sunday gathered for a group photo in Times Square.

By Sam Blackwell ~ Southeast Missourian

For most musicians, especially the classical version, performing at New York City's Carnegie Hall is one of the ultimate goals. Forty members of the Choral Union at Southeast Missouri State University achieved that ambition on Easter Sunday, singing works by Schubert and Handel as part of a larger choir.

The experience met or exceeded everyone's expectations.

"Awesome" was the description of Choral Union member Trudy Lee, a community member. "Spectacular," said 19-year-old Lauren Sims, a junior vocal performance major at Southeast.

Sims had never been to New York City before. The whole experience, which included going to Broadway plays and to Ground Zero, thrilled her. Singing in Carnegie Hall gave her goose bumps. "It's very ornate and plush. It looks very rich. The sound is incredible when you first open up and start singing," she said.

"... It made me want to go back immediately and go on stage if I can."

100-person choir

The singers were part of a 100-person choir that sang for an audience of about 1,500 Sunday night. The choir performed Schubert's Mass in G, a piece the entire Choral Union will present at its spring concert May 6. They also performed Handel's Coronation Anthem No. 1, "Zadok the Priest."

The choir was directed by Lee Egbert, brother of Choral Union director Dr. John Egbert. Lee Egbert is the director of choral activities at Colorado State University. When he was invited to conduct again this year on Easter Sunday, "to keep peace in the family he had to invite me," John said.

He invited anyone in the Choral Union to come along, and 40 did.

The whole choir rehearsed for the first time two days before the concert, and Lee Egbert worked with the orchestra, all professional musicians from the city, last Saturday night. They were afforded a 45-minute dress rehearsal Sunday morning before the evening concert.

Retired Clippard Elementary School principal Dick Giles was proud that two students he had while a principal in Sikeston, Mo. -- including former Southeast student Neal Boyd -- have sung at Carnegie Hall. The chance to sing there himself was to good to pass up, he said.

Giles thinks those involved will carry the experience over to Choral Union performances.

Being surrounded by 100 other people helped with his nerves, he said. "You do hear the pitty-pat, but I hear that when I sing here," he said.

Lee, director of Planned Giving for the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation, has had other performing experiences that for her compare with Carnegie Hall. As a soloist she sang an aria from "Messiah" in Albuquerque, N.M., and she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for a convention of 1,000 people in San Jose, Calif. She has always dreamed of making it to Carnegie Hall.

"You always envision being the star," she said. "That isn't the way it works out for most."

Sims plans to give Broadway a shot eventually. "If I don't make it at least I'll know I tried."

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