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HUDSON -- An old joke starts out by asking directions to Carnegie Hall.
The punchline is "practice, practice, practice."
Not with the Hudson Festival Choir and Orchestra.
The 55-voice and 11-piece orchestra are taking two buses to New York in a few days to prepare for a May 26 performance at the storied concert hall.
Conductor Thomas M. Scott selected the group after holding auditions last fall.
"Last spring Distinguished Concerts International New York contacted me and asked me to conduct a choral concert at Carnegie Hall," according to Scott. "We chose a date, May 26, Memorial Day weekend, and I told them that I wanted to select my own group from Hudson."
Rehearsals began April 10, according to Scott.
And while thousands of professionals have performed at Carnegie Hall, the group from Hudson holds a pedigree no past vocalist or musician can share.
"This is the first time that a performance ensemble made up of amateur singers and musicians from Hudson and the surrounding areas is performing at one of the most iconic venues in the world," Scott said. "What city our size can assemble the forces necessary to perform at Carnegie Hall?"
The trip is being funded in part by the Hudson Community Foundation and its donors, Scott said.
"They are filled with civic pride that citizens of their city can achieve such a seemingly impossible task," he added. "This trip is not without its costs, and the local businesses, foundations and the musicians have all stepped up to make this trip a reality."
The Hudson Festival Choir emerged from a project Scott began three years ago at First Congregational Church of Hudson in conjunction with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. Scott wanted to present major choral/orchestral works in a liturgical setting during Lent. A 40-year supporter of amateur music-making, he opened auditions to any singer in Hudson who wished to have the experience of participating in the performance of great repertoire that few churches would be able to carry out with their own resources.
The process was so successful that they continued the following year with another choral/orchestral work, and their Carnegie Hall premiere is their third opportunity to share their amateur music-making with a wider audience, according to Scott.
The Akron Symphony players have even been replaced with amateur instrumentalists, and the net was widened for singers outside of the Hudson area for this performance.
The group played a farewell concert May 19 at Hudson High School in appreciation of community support, Scott said.
On May 26 the group will perform 'Requiem' by Gabriel Faur.
Scott is the music director for the United Church of Christ General Synod in Baltimore and holds a variety of degrees in musical theory.