hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

March 27, 2014

An experience they'll never forget

Teens perform Mozart, Beethoven choral works at Carnegie Hall

By Rosemary Ford
Staff Writer

---- — Playing New York’s Carnegie Hall is a feat every performer aspires to, yet few achieve.

However, six Haverhill teens can now claim that honor.

The students — Alexandria Gilford, Rebekah Munley, Stephen Munley, Alexis Smith and Jordanna Pacheco of Bradford Christian Academy and Caitlin Clark of Haverhill High — were part of a 276 singer National Sacred Honor Choir who performed at the famed venue March 9.

“It was indescribable,” said 17-year-old Alexandria of Haverhill. “The hall was so gorgeous, and just having the opportunity to stand on the stage and perform — I don’t know how to put it into words. It was so amazing, especially doing that as a 17-year-old in high school. Being able to perform on that stage was amazing.”

The group, organized by Houghton College in New York, consisted of professional, collegiate and high school singers from across the country, under the direction of Dr. Brandon Johnson.

The students sang two difficult pieces: Mozart’s hour-long “Requiem” in Latin and Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy” in German.

“I would say it’s a challenge — it’s Mozart and Beethoven,” Alexandria said. “It’s not exactly easy, but if was definitely fun to learn.”

Thinking about what her students would learn from this is experience is exactly what prompted Bradford Christian Academy High School Choir Director Erin Burgess to encourage her students to take part, when she heard about the National Sacred Honor Choir being formed in October.

“I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for our kids to sing with a good choir,” Burgess said.

The students who took part in the choir seemed to think so as well.

One of the highlights for 17-year-old Caitlin Clark of Haverhill was being part of a group of singers who echoed her passion for music and love of singing. The other, of course, was stepping onto the hallowed stage of Carnegie Hall.

“Once everyone was getting lined up, it finally set in what we were doing,” Caitlin said. “It was a moment of joy and happiness. It was such a great feeling to be able to be there with everyone and perform in such an amazing space.”

For Burgess, it was a thrill to see her students sing with professionals beside a professional orchestra.

“It opened their eyes to what they were capable of doing if they worked at it,” she said. “They worked hard and I am very proud of them. It is an experience they will never forget.”

By the numbers

10: Years ago that Bradford Christian Academy was created

4: Years ago the chorus started

90: Students in the school

35: Students in the chorus

Source: Bradfordchristianacademy.org and Erin Burgess