New York City Trip Combines Learning and Performing in Carnegie Hall for AHS Musical Artists

The excitement is building for the April 24-27, first-ever Performing Arts trip that includes a performance in Carnegie Hall. At this time, 82 AHS Choral students and the 16 members of the Honors Orchestra will be participating in a Choirs of America Choral Festival. This intense experience involves workshops, rehearsals, performing, adjudication, meeting and singing with other vocalists from other states, and taking part in a massed choir performance led by a renowned choral conductor that will include two world-premier pieces. In between all that, there will be time to see Wicked on Broadway, visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and do some shopping and sightseeing. 

It was the level of participants–the world-renowned choral leaders listed as clinicians, conductors, and composers-in-residence–at the Choirs of America choral festivals that initially intrigued AHS Choral Director Mara Walker. She describes it this way:  “The professional musicians on the list are very notable in the choral world, and it was clear that having my students work with them would be a unique experience, especially in the historic venue of Carnegie Hall.” 

Ms. Walker inquired and submitted an application that was followed by what she describes as “an interview of sorts” with the Executive Director of the organization. The two discussed the AHS choirs’ musical abilities, experience, and performances. The result of this conversation was an invitation to be part of “Armonioso”, the final massed choir of the concert, that will be conducted by St. Olaf Choir Conductor Anton Armstrong. This performance will include Weather by Rollo Dilworth, along with two new pieces by André Thomas and Jeffrey Ames.

The AHS vocalists will be very busy during their time in New York. They will participate in a Broadway 101 workshop with Broadway actors and sing in a choir exchange with another high school choir. The AHS Chorale will sing three selections in an adjudication where they will receive a rating and comments, and then take part in an hour-long clinic with the adjudicators.The next day will be full massed choir rehearsals with Conductor Armstrong and Composer Thomas. The Carnegie Hall performance will be very special. In addition to participating in the larger choir, the AHS Chorale has been invited to perform their own spotlight piece between the mass choir performances.

At every Choral Festival, an instrumental ensemble from one of the participating schools is invited to perform at the Carnegie Hall concert. Ms. Walker had described the AHS instrumental program during her initial conversation with the Choirs of America Executive Director. The result was an invitation for the Honors Orchestra to be the guest instrumental ensemble that opens the show. In the days prior to the performance, the AHS musicians will participate in workshops and rehearsals with faculty from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College where the Choral clinics and rehearsals take place.

Ms. Walker describes the upcoming trip this way: “This festival is a great balance of large-group performances and activities, while also allowing us the opportunity to perform as our own AHS ensemble. It is a trip that provides the talented AHS vocalists and instrumentalists the opportunity to learn from and perform for, and with, talented and well-known conductors, and to be able to perform in Carnegie Hall is a rare experience. The entire trip should be incredibly enriching and memorable for every student. It is likely that a trip like this could be done every few years. We are very excited for the opportunity to go.”

The Performing Arts Department has several opportunities for members of the community to contribute to the trip. 

  • The Roasted Granola in Arlington Heights is offering eight ounce bags of granola for purchase in the store from January 26-February 9 and the entire $10 cost will go towards the trip. 
  • Anyone can sign-up for Valentunes, Singing Telegrams and have a small group of singers visit a friend or family member on February 10th or 11th and deliver a three-song musical telegram. The cost is $40.
  • On February 15th, Blue Ribbon Barbecue will donate 20% of the purchase when patrons mention the AHS Performing Arts New York/Carnegie Hall fundraiser.
  • On February 29th, Andrina’s pizza will donate 20%  of the purchase when patrons mention the trip fundraiser

Donations can be made directly to AHS-PAPA via PayPal, Venmo, and checks. See GoFundMe to contribute this way. 


Carnegie Hall with student orchestral musicians and conductor from back of stage.