Students from Belton High School and members from the Belton Singers and Bella Voce choirs traveled to New York City April 24-27 to participate in the Choirs of America Festival for Top Choirs. The festival began at Queen’s College where students had a Vocal Master Class with opera star Andrew Lunsford. Two Belton students, Emily Hines and Ryan Mahoney, were chosen to sing for Andrew Lunsford and receive instruction in front of the audience. The choirs then participated in a choir exchange with four other choirs from California, Texas, Tennessee and New York. This was followed by a rehearsal with composer Z. Randall Stroope of his specially commissioned work to be premiered in Carnegie Hall.
The Belton Singers and Bella Voce performed in beautiful LeFrak Concert Hall at Queen’s College for a panel of adjudicators including Gene Peterson (University of Tennessee), Dr. James John (Queens College), and Dr. Joshua Habermann (Director, Dallas Symphony Chorus) and received written comments. The choirs then had a one hour clinic with Dr. Habermann working on vocal technique, diction, and musical expression. In preparation for their Carnegie Hall performance, Belton students joined with choirs from Kentucky, Maryland, California, and Washington to rehearse three pieces with Master Conductor Grant Gershon (director, Los Angeles Master Chorale) at Christ Church United Methodist near Central Park.
The festival concluded with a mass choir performance in Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall under the direction of Grant Gershon and a finale with the commissioned piece “Soulspeak” directed by the composer Z. Randall Stroope. While in New York, students also attended a Broadway Show, went to Rockefeller Center’s “Top of the Rock”, toured Grand Central Terminal, Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Ground Zero, Times Square, and Central Park.