Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

DHS singers raising money for Carnegie Hall trip

Sixteen students hope to perform on famed New York City stage

March 24, 2005

After a decade of invitations, Mary Etta Copeland finally gave in and decided to take her De Soto High School singers to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Sixteen students plan to travel to the Big Apple to join other choruses from around the country in a performance with the New England Symphonic Ensemble on June 26.

As the five-day stay carries a price tag of more than $1,300 per person, the De Soto students have begun a flurry of fund-raising to help sponsor their participation.

Copeland said high school singers could make it to the stage in one of two ways: submitting an audition tape or being recommended by one of more than 250 guest conductors who have appeared in Carnegie's concert series.

Through the years, Copeland said De Soto singers had been recommended numerous times but that the time never seemed quite right.

This year, Kansas State University's Rod Walker extended an invitation, and Copeland said she decided it was time to make New York an opportunity for her students, even if as few as three or four were interested.

Walker will be one of two conductors for the June concert, which will feature the works of Aaron Copland, composer of the ballet "Appalachian Spring" and often called the dean of American composers.

The trip will include several lengthy rehearsals to polish previously prepared music before De Soto singers join other groups from Wamego, Junction City, Lincoln, Neb., and Virginia for the show.

Copeland said concert tickets range from $35 to $85 apiece and that visitors from around the world were typically found in Carnegie audiences.

"I consider this a most valuable venture for these young people, and one which will be of major impact in their lives," Copeland said.

She said past performances from her long history as the school's choral director had been beneficial for students and also helped to put De Soto on the map, though never as far away as New York.

"In the 37 years I've taken De Soto singers to various places to perform, they have always represented De Soto incredibly well and have themselves grown as people and musicians from the experiences," she said.

Copeland said that applied to performances where the audience numbered as few as six or as many as 19,000.

In a February fund-raiser for the upcoming New York trip, a small group of singers hired themselves out to deliver door-to-door singing Valentines. Copeland said students would be available through June for other singing grams, a great way to make other events, like birthdays or anniversaries, special.

Next week, the group is planning a pre-play barbecue dinner.

The dinner and a silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. April 2 in the De Soto High School commons, prior to the high school's drama production of "The Nerd."

Tickets for the dinner, sponsored in part by Steve's Meat Market, must be purchased in advance. The cost is $10.

For dinner reservations or to inquire about hiring madrigals and chorus members for other singing or work projects, call Copeland at 583-8370 ext. 304 or 583-1425.

De Soto's Carnegie Hall performance will take place at 2 p.m. June 26 in the Isaac Stern Auditorium. With 2,804 seats, Isaac Stern is the Hall's largest stage.

According to Carnegie Hall's Web site, the auditorium has been the "premier classical music performance space in the United States since its opening in 1891."

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