A total of 38 pupils and four staff from Coleraine Grammar School travelled to New York on January 16 to sing in the Carnegie Hall at the 20th anniversary of Sir Karl Jenkins’ ‘The Armed Man’.
Following a year of fundraising by the parents and support from the local community, the choir had finally made it to the streets of Manhattan and the bright lights of Times Square. The first few days were filled with sightseeing and shopping. For many, seeing ‘Hamilton’at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway was a highlight, but the group also visited the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Museum, the One World Observatory and the Statue of Liberty before a note had been sung!
The Grand Ballroom of the group’s hotel, the Park Central, was also the rehearsal venue. The choir comprised 279 choristers from all over the world – America, Canada, Ireland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. A four-hour rehearsal without a break on both the Saturday and Sunday ensured the choir were exhausted but well prepared for the Monday night concert.
They managed to tick a few more tourist boxes before getting to Carnegie Hall by attending a NY Knicks game in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night and a ‘Times Square Church’ service on the Sunday afternoon.
At 2:15pm on Martin Luther King Jnr. Day, the group received their stage call on the Stern Auditorium/Perelman
Stage of Carnegie Hall. Sir Karl Jenkins was intent on getting every detail accurate - balance, intonation, diction all had to be perfect. The CGS were kept backstage during the first half of the concert then it was their turn just after 8pm.
A schools spokesperson said: “The 279 strong choir raised their standards and eclipsed all previous efforts to astound the audience and earn a standing ovation. It was a truly moving experience, particularly for the staff and parents in the audience. The Coleraine Grammar School choir had done their school, town and country proud at the 20th anniversary concert of this very popular piece of music – allegedly performed on average twice a week for the past 20 years!
“Sadly, our trip was almost over. As the sun shone in Manhattan and temperatures started to rise we took to the ice of the Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was a beautiful setting to have some fun and contemplate the previous night’s concert. The trip was a wonderful experience for all the pupils and staff involved. Lots of laughs, a few tears but immense pride in completing the journey to Carnegie Hall. Thanks again to all the parents and friends who have organised events and supported the fundraising activities during this past year and well done to the 38 pupils whose dreams became reality on January 20, 2020.”