Friday, February 17, 2012

Students, professor prepare for Carnegie Hall performance

Twenty singers at Randolph College will follow in the footsteps of many famous artists this spring by performing in Carnegie Hall.

Randolph College conductor and music professor Randall Speer will conduct a concert in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium on Easter Sunday. He will be joined by the Randolph College Chorale, a high school choir, and the New England Symphonic Ensemble, for a performance of Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore (Solemn Vespers). The concert was organized by MidAmerica Productions, a company that produces concerts in New York and around the world.
Randolph College Chorale and Randall Speer
Performance in
Carnegie Hall
Sunady, April 8, 8:30 p.m.
Discount tickets are available but must be ordered through MidAmerica productions by March 14.

One year ago, MidAmerica Productions invited Speer to conduct a festival choir performance this season. Although he was not required to bring singers himself, he invited his students at Randolph to ensure that they would have the incredible opportunity. Connie Anderson Calhoun ’57 and C. Merrell Calhoun donated money to help cover the costs of the trip, Speer said.

“Being able to perform that on the Carnegie Hall stage is daunting a little bit, but more than anything else, it’s exciting,” Speer said. “This is an incomparable experience for these students, and once in a lifetime for most.”

Since it opened in 1891, Carnegie Hall has hosted some of the world’s most accomplished composers, conductors, and musicians, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, and Judy Garland. That tradition continues today—in fact, Speer and the Chorale will take the stage in Stern Auditorium just a few hours after the acclaimed British composer John Rutter conducts a concert there.

Speer said he never expected to find himself leading his students for a Carnegie Hall performance. “Perhaps in my wildest dreams I might have wished for something like this,” he said. For it to become a reality, and to have the opportunity to stand in the same spot that some of the world’s greatest conductors have stood, is such a great honor.”

Mozart’s Solemn Vespers is a challenging but inspiring piece, Speer said. Mozart composed the music while working in Salzburg, Austria. “Right now, the students are experiencing the hard work that it takes to get into it, but they’re already getting a sense of just how glorious this music is,” Speer said.

The group will travel to New York a few days before their concert. Then they meet the high school choir and the orchestra that will join them for the Easter Sunday performance and hold several hours-long rehearsals.

While performing in Carnegie Hall is a rare opportunity, touring far and wide is normal for Randolph College music students. Chorale regularly tours, and has performed in Washington, D.C., California, eastern Pennsylvania, Jamaica, and the Midwest. “These are significant experiences, certainly, but the New York and Carnegie Hall trip is taking it to a whole other level,” Speer said.