Members of the Bitterroot Valley Community Chorus and the Hamilton High School Concert Choir performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City on Nov. 19.
Peggy Bucheit, director of both choirs, said the opportunity came from an invitation to perform the "Gloria" and two Christmas medleys written by Randol Bass.
“A couple of years ago Randol requested a recording of our chorus singing the ‘Gloria,’” Bucheit said. “He must have appreciated our efforts to have extended this invitation.”
Only nine students were able to make the trip to New York, so the high school choir joined forces with the Bitterroot Valley Community Chorus to send 22 singers.
“After years of preparing students to sing in Carnegie, I was actually able to perform as a member of the chorus this year,” Bucheit said. “Singing in Carnegie Hall with an amazing symphony orchestra and a powerful chorus was the thrill of a lifetime.”
The choirs rehearsed for three half-days before the performance, allowing time to explore the city. Sightseeing highlights included the Statue of Liberty and the financial district, an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Bryant Park, the Public Library, the World Trade Center Memorial, Central Park, Washington Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and attending a Broadway show called "Once on This Island."
“It was a bit stressful at times trying to keep track of the two separate groups (adults and students), making sure everyone got all of the emails and messages,” Bucheit said. “I think the kids and I wore the adults out; by the last day, the only adult who wanted to explore with us was my husband - he is a trouper.”
Hamilton High School choir members were Sarah Hancock, Logan Elliott, Grace Kemp, Haile Spear, Claire Matthews, Anna Roberts, Kayte McGouldrick, MeKayla Weber and Becca Parker.
Bitterroot Valley Community Chorus members were Donna Lewis, Carolyn Cook, Amanda Savage, Phyllis Wieser, Laurie Burnham, Barbara Burnham Edmunds, Patty Franklin, Cynthie Fisher, Tricie Callaghan-Stover, Greg Behm, Josh Behm, Peggy Bucheit and Rick Bucheit.
“Our trip to New York and to sing at Carnegie Hall with a wonderful musical group is beyond words,” Phyllis Wieser said. “Being guided by Peggy all around New York was an amazing feat. What a marvelous effort on her part. My heartfelt thanks to Peggy and Rick Bucheit for the awesome memories.”
Amanda Savage said she was honored to be part of the experience.
“Performing at Carnegie Hall alongside so many talented musicians from around the nation was a magnificent experience,” Savage said.
Donna Lewis said singing on the Carnegie Hall stage was an awe-inspiring experience.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list adventure,” Lewis said. “To make beautiful music with other choristers from around our nation and Canada with an amazing director was a dream come true. It was even more enjoyable to share with talented, respectful, dedicated, and fun Hamilton High School students. HHS and parents have so much to be proud of in our youth.”
Tricie Callaghan-Stover said the opportunity to make beautiful music with choristers from around our nation, while being accompanied by an amazing symphony orchestra, in the world-famous Carnegie Hall was "the thrill of a lifetime.”
“Peggy Bucheit has set a standard of musical excellence in the Bitterroot Valley that benefits musicians and audiences alike, and we are so fortunate to have her talent and expertise as our conductor/artistic director," Callaghan-Stover said.
Bass, the composer of the music in the first half of the concert, sent a thank you to the Hamilton group from the principal conductor, Jonathan Griffith.
“Words cannot adequately express how proud I am of your performance in Sunday’s concert at Carnegie Hall,” Griffith said. “The review was wonderful and your high performance level came forth with energy, excitement and polish that resulted in an overwhelming positive response from the audience, orchestra members and the critics.”
The Bitterroot Valley Community Chorus will present its 45th annual Christmas Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Hamilton High School Performing Arts Center. The chorus will perform two of the large Christmas medleys, by Bass, that they performed at Carnegie Hall.