The LRHS chorus shares the stage with other ensembles at New York’s Carnegie Hall

Grace Harvey and Lilly HodgeMustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – The LRHS chorus traveled up to New York last week to sing at Carnegie Hall, performing many songs that brought the whole group together.

They performed to a sold-out audience where the students accompanied a college choir and orchestra that performed classical music. The choir performed two other pieces along with other schools and colleges across the country.

Lakewood Ranch High school sang to the people of New York including works from John Rutter’s Requiem.

The trip was a first for the choir, organized by the school chorus teacher Giselle Panagiotakis said “there was a few bumps but overall it went better than expected.”

Senior Parker Wilson said “it was a very cool experience..singing with advanced singers made me want to get serious with this career.”

Panagiotakis would like to make these trips more frequent to let students have an even broader involvement in music.

Ranch Reflection – A Mustang sings in Carnegie Hall

Ranch Reflections are articles written by students who want to share their experiences, thoughts, and concerns. This is a great opportunity for students to branch out beyond traditional news stories.

Caitlyn Grayson – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – It’s 3:30 in the morning and my alarm went off, I woke up along with two friends who were carpooling with my mom and I to the airport.

I was extremely nervous for the flight.  I had never gone anywhere without my family by my side.

By 6 a.m. my mom dropped me and my two friends off at the airport. I gave her the biggest hug and told her I would see her in a few days. She took one last picture and was on her way. I walked into the airport, checked in for my flight, paid for my bag and checked it in.

I met up with the LRHS chorus group and by 7 a.m. we were headed upstairs to go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints, and eventually waited for our plane to arrive.

7:40 a.m. rolled around and my zone was called for boarding, I picked up my carry-on and my coat, and headed for the plane. I’m seated by the window and ready to take off.

Finally 8 a.m. came and after the usual “fasten your seat belts” and flight attendant schpiel was over, we took off. I looked out the window, ready to embrace the 30 degree weather we were headed for in New York.

Two and a half hours later and we were finally at LaGuardia Airport. The group picked up their bags and we headed outside to our charter bus, which was to take us to our hotel.

Two hours later, thanks to New York traffic, we arrive at the hotel. We were shown upstairs to the second floor main lobby and shoved into a sort-of waiting area. The travel director of the hotel gave us our MetroCards for the subway and a couple other things Manhattan Concert Production (MCP) had provided for us. We were given our room assignments and sent upstairs to go set down our bags and immediately return to and meet in the same spot.

Two days of touring the city flew by and before I knew it and it was Saturday, the first day of three rehearsals. My alarm went off at 6:30 in the morning and I drowsily woke up and turned it off. I was extremely tired having been out until about 11 p.m. the previous night seeing my first ever Broadway show, “Wicked.”

We finally headed to rehearsal and I walked in with my roommates and we went to our respective chairs in our respective sections. Not long after, the world-renowned musician Dr. Anton Armstrong walked in. Being in his presence and being conducted by him was a blessing and a dream come true.

In those four hours, we made many marks in our music, and were stopped multiple times to fix sloppy vowels and consonants and heard many stories of Armstrong’s journey from being a child, to a teacher, to a famous conductor.

We were released from the long rehearsal only to return 24 hours later. Come 1 p.m. Sunday we returned to the rehearsal room in the hotel for yet another 4-hour rehearsal. This time, Armstrong seated each soprano, alto, tenor, and bass carefully to create a youthful sound among the group. We sounded beautiful during rehearsal, trying our best not to mess up, but failed on some movements. Four hours went by quickly this rehearsal, we were advised to rest our voices, drink lots of water and come prepared to run straight through the entire piece and were then released for the afternoon.

Monday quickly came and filled us with excitement and lots of nerves. We had one last rehearsal, which was only two-and-a-half hours. We ran John Rutter’s entire Requiem front to back with style, enthusiasm and dynamics. We were released and had to quickly change, report back to our meeting area in the lobby and had to run through the subway station in order to catch our ride to the concert hall where we had sound check.

We made it by the skin of our teeth to Carnegie Hall just in time for sound check.  We had to climb six flights of stairs in order to drop off our stuff and get in our rows. We climbed back down six flights of stairs to the stage where we ran through the Requiem for the last time before the real deal.

We climbed back up the six flights of stairs to gather our stuff for dinner.

After dinner, we climbed back up the now-dreaded six flights of stairs to once again drop our purses, coats and such in our respective rooms and were instructed to get into our lines while we listened to the first group perform for about fifteen to twenty minutes then walked down the six flights for our time to shine.

It was eight o’clock, our performance time. The butterflies in my stomach kicked because of how nervous, yet extremely excited, I was for my moment on this famous stage. I, Caitlin Grayson, was about to sing on the stage in Carnegie Hall, the stage where so many big musicians and singers performed before me. I was fulfilling my dream at the age of 18.

We walked on stage, heads held high, smiles flashed to the audience, Requiem in hand. Armstrong walked on stage and stepped onto the conductor’s block. He began to conduct the orchestra and not long after, we were singing.

Before I knew it, Armstrong cut off the orchestra and our group. Immediately the house was filled with applauding and whistling. We got a standing ovation. I couldn’t believe it, every person in the audience was standing and clapping for our group. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face.

We were showed off of the stage and climbed up the six flights to collect all of our stuff and were congratulated.  I immediately became emotional because of how proud I was that I came this far and fulfilled one of my biggest dreams at such a young age. I along with some of my friends from my chorus group cried happy tears.

We were taken down the six flights and then back up another six flights to the balcony where we sat and watched the last group of the night. We walked down the six flights for the last time and all shuffled outside where members from the audience came up to our group and told us how amazing we did and how shocked they were to see such young faces.

I was overjoyed. I sang at Carnegie Hall. I did what I thought was the impossible and met one of my idols, Dr. Anton Armstrong. I will forever relive that day in my head, because this was the greatest day of my young adult life. This was a dream come true.