The Northwest Mississippi Community College Singers and Chamber Choir are back from their trip to New York City, where they were a part of the premiere performance of Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living” on January 19 in Carnegie Hall’s Issac Stern Auditorium. The choirs performed under the direction of Dr. James Meaders. The performance was part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY).
“The Northwest Singers received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers,” said Dr. Jonathan Griffith, artistic director and principal conductor for DCINY. “It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”
The students were awestruck by the caliber of musicians and venue for the performance. “As soon as the orchestra started to play, my heart took off,” said Hannah Hanberry of Olive Branch. “The music swelled, and all of a sudden the crowded stage did not matter. All I could think about was the music. As the last note rung out, I began to cry because the moment was just so unreal. The beauty of both our songs and the concert hall was overwhelming. Standing in Carnegie Hall, where so many iconic musical figures have performed, and singing to a marvelous audience, then receiving a standing ovation—everything about that moment was perfect.”
In addition to the Carnegie Hall performance, the students enjoyed local dining, toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art, took in a Broadway musical, visited Central Park and the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center and toured the city, including the 9/11 Memorial.
“An experience like New York is one of a kind,” said Hannah Parker of Ashland. “I had no idea I would see and learn so much and that it would change me. Everything in it teemed with life and celebrated it. From the memorable landmarks that left me in awe to the history that deepened my appreciation for them, I left New York a more thoughtful person. I will forever be astounded by that beautiful, mesmerizing city and how I was a part of it for that small twinkle of time.”
With the approval of Dr. Gary L. Spears, president, the college provided funds for the transportation and lodging. Through a Northwest Foundation fundraising campaign spearheaded by Associated Vice President for Development, Sybil Canon, $25,000 was raised. According to Canon, “We wanted to be sure that this was a memorable experience and through the generosity of approximately 50 donors, to include Bobby Dunlap of Batesville, Dr. Patsy Sledge of Senatobia, and Dr. and Mrs. Gary Spears who gave major gifts, we were able to provide the touring excursions, dining experiences, and other special events.” While most of the singers were selected by an audition process, some of the alternates were given the option of making the trip and paying for their own expenses. The Northwest Foundation assisted those students as well. “Being able to sing at Carnegie Hall was a dream come true. I am so grateful to the generous donors that allowed all of us to have this amazing, beautiful experience ingrained into our minds,” said Caitlen Barron of Olive Branch.
Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Music Department, Susanne VanDyke, is in her 21st year as head of the Northwest Singers and was an integral part of making this trip possible and successful. Because of the group’s outstanding performance and overall conduct, Griffith extended an open invitation to VanDyke to return with the Northwest Singers in two years to perform again.
The Northwest Singers have been in existence since the early years of the college and perform extensively on campus and surrounding areas. The group specializes in classic choral literature and major works and new compositions from prominent composers of this century.
For more information, contact VanDyke at 662-562-3337 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: The Northwest Singers and Chamber Choir rehearse for the last time before their premiere performance of Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living” on January 19 in Carnegie Hall’s Issac Stern Auditorium. The choirs, including the Northwest Singers and the Mississippi College Singers, performed under the direction of Dr. James Meaders. The performance was part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY).
Story by Sarah Sapp, director of Communications