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Interview with Director Jill about the Carnegie Experience

Photo credit – Mid-America Productions

On June 1, 2019, the Summit Choral Society made its third appearance at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City.  Obviously, the experience was unforgettable for all concerned and deserving of just a bit more reflection.

In this post, Director Jill Schroeder-Dorn answers a few questions about her experiences at Carnegie Hall.

Did you select Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem for this performance? What was it about this work that made you feel it was possible and/or a good choice? 

My first performance with Dona Nobis Pacem was about ten years ago as a horn player in the orchestra. It was captivating to me; I loved the drama and the text, as well as its place in history. There is a lot of substance in the work and it is challenging. I assumed we would not get bored, and hoped we would dive deeper into the arc of the piece as we learned notes, rhythms, and grasped the many emotions required to perform the piece well. I was concerned at first that it might seem too dark and too difficult and singers would not want to take the journey, but I think for many people, it was well worth it.

What was the most nerve-wracking moment in the rehearsal or performance in NYC?

The most stressful part of the week was the canceled flights that many of us experienced. I did not think I would make it to the first rehearsal, but after being booked on seven different flights on three different airlines, I finally found a way to get there and be just an hour late for the first rehearsal. I was also disappointed on behalf of the others who missed part of their New York time.

The performance was a dream! It was the best it had gone – so much expression and excellent execution. After so many months of work, the piece fell into an easy flow. During the performance, I remember looking down, noticing that we were coming to the last movement, and feeling sad that it was almost over.

Where did all those singers come from?

The core of the group was Summit Choral Society. Other singers came from a variety of groups: Colorado Christian University, Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian (my church choir in Lakewood), Denver Chorale, Bayville High School in New Jersey, Longmont Chorale, and various other friends and family of mine.

How does this experience compare with other significant choral direction you’ve done?

The venue, of course, adds a level of gravitas! I thought many times during the ballroom rehearsals leading up to the performance that the choir sounded really great. After the first sounds in our dress rehearsal in Carnegie Hall, I thought, wow, the choir sounds amazing! Experiencing the sound from the podium at Carnegie Hall is unlike anything I’ve experienced. It truly lives up to the hype!

The experience, as a whole, was really special to me because it brought together so many people whom I love and have known for a long time. It was delightful to see people from my musical spheres get to know one another.

Group photos courtesy of Joyce Mueller, SCS member.

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