Members of the St. Paul United Church of Christ in Waterloo recently had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The group got lucky after Distinguished Concerts International New York invited The Collinsville Chorale, a community choir, to perform in a concert with other groups in the St. Louis area.
While this doesn’t seem like an invitation to the members of St. Paul, it worked that way because Gary Humphrey, member of UCC St. Paul and executive director of Collinsville Chorale, decided to donate an opportunity. to fellow church members.
âI made the offer available to all church choir members who wanted to go,â said Gary, who is also director of music ministries at St. Paul UCC. “He was basically the one who could afford the trip and had the free time to do it.”
Church members who have performed in addition to Gary are Jeff Clinebell, Linda Mueller, Vicki Gardner, Renae Mayer and Brenda Humphrey.
Several of the singers had performed at Carnegie Hall in 2006 for a similar event, but for Mueller it was her first time.
âThe first time you walk in you’re kind of in awe of the building, the orchestra and the composer,â said Mueller, who is the administrative coordinator at St. Paul UCC. âYou are just a little stunned to find yourself in Carnegie Hall. “
DCINY regularly gives the opportunity to smaller groups to perform on large stages.
The Collinsville Chorale was one of five groups invited to perform at the concert.
The other groups were from Missouri and included the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus.
A total of 300 singers made up the choir. An orchestra of 30 musicians accompanied the singers.
âThree hundred singers at any time on stage is a big deal,â Gary said. “Then you add an orchestra of 30 musicians and a pretty packed hall and it’s a pretty amazing experience.”
The ensemble performed a new work by eminent composer Mark Hayes titled Spirit Suite, which consists of nine pieces. It was the world premiere of the work.
Gary said working with Hayes was a good experience.
âIt’s fantastic to work with him,â Gary said. âHe’s a very, very talented person. It was a very wonderful thing.
In preparation for the performance, the band rehearsed sporadically for months.
Once in New York, the singers rehearsed for four hours the two days before performing. They conducted a short final rehearsal before the concert, which took place on the evening of June 17th.
Gary, who once performed at Carnegie Hall, said it always stirred emotions in him.
âEveryone handles it differently,â he explained. âYou are in a historic building where famous people have been and have done. It’s a bit overwhelming and surreal.
Mueller was one of those people whose historical setting affected differently.
âIt was a great honor to play there,â she said. âYou go there and the people you talk to all say it’s an honor. For a musician who was classically trained for church worship, it was an honor to go there and see where so many other talented musicians have performed.
When not preparing for the play, the choir members took the time to go sightseeing.
The Waterloo contingent saw two Broadway plays, visited Radio City Music Hall, and toured Rockefeller Center, among others.
Gary said the group may have the opportunity to take another trip over the next few years. The next trip might even take them abroad.