Hudson -- For the first time in at least 29 years, a Hudson student choir will perform at Carnegie Hall.
The Hudson High School Chamber Ensemble will travel to New York City April 26-29 to participate in the Heritage Festival Choral performance at Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious venues in the world for music.
"This is a once in a lifetime experience for the students, and I am glad that I could be a part of process," said Amy Foulkes, director choral activities.
Foulkes said in her 29 years of teaching at Hudson schools, this is the first time the Chamber Ensemble has performed at Carnegie Hall.
"I performed there years ago under Robert Shaw, director of the Atlanta Symphony," Foulkes said. "It's a thrill and a once in a lifetime experience for the kids."
Sophomore Jenna Smith describes chamber ensemble as the varsity choir.
"You spend a lot more time singing advanced music," Jenna said. "You get exposed to a lot of different types of music."
Jenna said the upperclassmen help "fix her mistakes" and counts them as friends.
"I'm excited to see Carnegie Hall," Jenna said. "The fact that I get to perform there is crazy."
The 27 Hudson High School singers will join in a mass choir with 300 voices from all over the United States singing the same songs they have been practicing separately, Foulkes said.
"It's a wide variety of repertoire," she said.
While other students have been sleeping in, the Hudson Chamber Ensemble students have been diligently attending extra rehearsals on Wednesday mornings in preparation for the trip.
Freshman Ethan Rosen, who sings bass, said he's been getting up early every Wednesday to practice the songs they'll sing in New York.
"There's a church song, 'Covenant Prayer,' that is beautiful and deep," Ethan said. "I love singing it."
Freshman Parker Kronen said giving up sleep is worth going to Carnegie Hall.
"You have to learn to juggle all these things together," Parker said about his busy schedule.
The concert will be under the leadership of accomplished guest conductor, Eph Ehly, Foulkes said.
As the chamber ensemble learns the literature, selected by Dr. Ehly, the group has performed it for their Hudson Choir concerts.
"I have found the repertoire to be challenging and varied," Foulkes said. "We have all thoroughly enjoyed learning the pieces and are very anxious to hear them performed with the large group in New York."
Sophomore Grace Hunt wants to do something with singing in her life, and Chamber Ensemble offers more opportunities for singing.
"I can say I performed at Carnegie Hall," Grace said. "It's a world renowned place."
In addition to New York rehearsals for the April 28 concert at Carnegie Hall, the group will see the Broadway show "Phantom of the Opera," visit the 9/11 Memorial, the Empire State Building and attend Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Sophomore Lauren Cox said she joined the Hudson Chamber Ensemble to become a better singer. She said she is looking forward to attending the "Phantom of the Opera" and visiting Time Square.
"I want to do touristy New York things and shop," Lauren said.
The trip came about when the chamber ensemble submitted a recording to the festival committee as their audition/ petition to be accepted for the mass choir, Foulkes said.
Because of Hurricane Sandy and its impact on New York City, Foulkes said she had to wait to find out if they had been accepted. But once accepted, the students and parents geared into fundraising mode.
Nicole Lehman said the group has had lots of fundraisers, including raffles, bakes sales, caroling at the Acme Plaza, donations for and from Yoga Lounge, Marcelita's Fiesta night and Mr. Hudson, a beauty pageant for guys. HHS senior Lee Swindell won, she said.
"Getting to perform at Carnegie Hall is so cool," Nicole said.
Sophomore Crystal Song only moved to Hudson this year and her previous school didn't offer a serious choir experience. She sums up the experience for all of the students.
"I've learned a lot, and I'm pretty excited," Crystal said. "It's the first time I've been to New York City, and I hope it's everything I want it to be."