Hitting the big time: Hilton Head choirs to perform at Carnegie Hall

April 11, 2011 

  • How to help

    Two of the choirs at Hilton Head Island High School - the Seahawk Ensemble and Out of the Blue - are heading to New York City on April 21 to perform at Carnegie Hall. Students are responsible to pay their own way. Director Larry Mercer said the trip will cost about $48,000 total. The choir has raised about $15,000 so far. To help defray costs of the trip, contact Larry Mercer at 843-689-4893.

    Upcoming concert

    The choirs will present their annual spring concert at 7 p.m. May 17 at the high school's Visual and Performing Arts Center.

    Details: Larry Mercer, 843-689-4893

A group of local high school students has been asked to perform at Carnegie Hall, an invitation that was music to their young ears.

The two performing choirs of Hilton Head Island High School -- the Seahawk Ensemble and Out of the Blue -- will hop on a bus and head to New York City on April 21. The 31 students will rehearse the next two days and perform April 24 in a mass choir directed by world-famous conductor and composer John Rutter, who's given dozens of performances at Carnegie Hall.

"We're counting down the days at school," choir director Larry Mercer said. "It's a huge deal for any musician to get to perform at Carnegie Hall. This will be something these kids will never, ever forget."

MidAmerica Productions is sponsoring the concert series at Carnegie Hall, which will feature 11 choirs from all over the country. MidAmerica Productions vice president and director of program development Sara Bong said Hilton Head Choral Society artistic director Tim Reynolds, who is a guest conductor with MidAmerica, recommended the two choirs for the series.

"It's a big deal for them," Bong said, adding that all ensembles who appear on the series have received a special invitation. She said all participants have either been recommended by a guest conductor, auditioned or were seen by a staff member at national choral festivals.

"We're really very excited to have the students from Hilton Head Island High School," Bong said. "We know they're very talented and have distinguished themselves in a number of competitive situations through the state. ... They've worked very hard to get to this point."

Bong said the students will perform two pieces as a mass choir, along with a resident orchestra and professional soloists. And Mercer, who will sing with his students, said the music they will present is difficult.

"And they've done a killer job," Mercer said.

Tenth-grader Keelin Sanz, a soprano with Out of the Blue, has been to New York City with her family, but she said this trip will be completely different. She'll be doing what she loves most -- performing.

"It's just going to be the biggest, best possible thing that could happen to us this year," she said.

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