Singing in the Big Apple: Harpeth Hall choir travels to NYC

By Ruthie Gaw / Sports Editor 

Not many people quite know the magnitude of the Chamber choir’s performance over spring break. They will perform in the prestigious Carnegie Hall with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) headmaster singers and sing an array of advanced folk songs while there. 

“We have seven or eight [songs], and a lot of them are hymns, and a lot of them are gospel songs. It’s a style that we practice usually with one song a year, but this time we will have seven or eight, but we all like them a lot,” junior Ruby Wolter said. 

The Harpeth Hall choir, consisting of both the chamber and concert choirs, will perform with the Fisk Jubilee Singers for the first time. The performance will be a part of a choral conference with Harpeth Hall, MBA, Fisk Jubilee Singers and other colleges in New York City in attendance.

“They are a choir at Fisk University, and they are conducted by Dr. Kwami, and I just went to their concert. They just celebrated their 150th anniversary for the school. They are a very important history for this genre of music,” Lead Choral Music Teacher Esther Ting said. 

Most of the songs that the choir will be performing are written by Dr. Kwami, and a few of them are “My God is a Rock” and “Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word.”

CHEERFUL CHOIR: Harpeth Hall choir members pose for a selfie on March 3 after rehearsing for their trip. They will travel to Carnegie Hall in New York City to perform with the Fisk Jubilee singers on during spring break, which is March 11-20. Photo courtesy of Anne Louis Todd / Social Media Editor.

“We’ve been having extra practices outside of school, so we’ve been coming to Harpeth Hall or MBA once a week since November. We’ve also spent all of the class time working on it,” senior Abby Brandau said.

The extra dedication to perform with such an influential choir can be nerve-wracking, but the chorus is accustomed to high-pressure performances. The Carnegie Hall concert comes at an opportune time for the choir program and is a chance to make their mark. 

“I would say we are all a little nervous just because we are used to performing at school events, but I think that we are prepared, and I think it’s really exciting. Because of Covid, we haven’t been able to even do regular concerts until this year,” Wolter said.

Ms. Ting’s impact on the choir this year has been felt by the singers. Her focus on technique and sound has paid off with the choir’s success. 

“She can tell a lot by listening to us. She can tell what we need to sound better as a group. She can tell if the sopranos need to make a different sound to make us sound more blended. She can tell what group needs more help on their notes,” Brandau said. “She’s focused a lot more on sight-reading than we have in the past, which helped us in our competition that we did well in.”

The opportunities this year given by Ms. Ting have elevated the choir’s knowledge of music and benefited the program as a whole. 

“We just went to a festival with Ms.Ting, so she’s making a lot of opportunities this year for us in the choir,” Wolter said. “Ms. Ting has found so many performance opportunities for us. She helped me with my Mid-State and All-State auditions. She’s very helpful and always there in the morning if you need help.”

The trip to New York City and Carnegie Hall brings with it an air of excitement and opportunity. The choir program can finally step into its full potential and shine.

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