Excitement is running high at Saint Viator High School, where members of the choral program are in final rehearsals for a premier performance in New York.
On May 10, they will sing in the chorus of "Gloria," a five-movement piece for choir and orchestra that will be making its New York premiere at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center.
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Saint Viator's choral director Kristina Sandrock will lead the 38 singers on the trip, including mostly current students and a few alumni, when they leave on Wednesday, May 7.
Her former professor from Northwestern University, Dr. Robert A. Harris, is the composer of the work, and he will be conducting the performance. Sandrock studied choral conducting with Harris and also sang in several of his choirs while she completed her master's degree at Northwestern.
Harris called his former student last year and invited her, along with her students and any alumni, to participate in the concert.
"It's quite a challenging piece of music," Sandrock said. "Our students are really enjoying it and are excited to be the only high school students involved in the project."
Students in the choir auditioned for their parts nearly one year ago and they have been rehearsing since October for the performance. The five movements stretch across 53-pages of music, and are expected to last nearly 30 minutes.
"This is the toughest music I've ever worked on," senior Ryan Wolfe of Arlington Heights said. "There are lots of time changes and in any given movement, we could be singing an entire octave."
Another senior, Jeff Madden of Arlington Heights, said while it will be his first trip to New York, it's the performance he is focused on during these final practices.
"This is such a big time performance, so there's a fair amount of pressure," he said.
Freshman Hugh Tully of Hanover Park -- no relation to Alice Tully of Lincoln Center fame -- said that learning the music has been a challenge.
"It's a lot harder because it's not in English," he said, pointing to its Latin wording.
They will be singing alongside students from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, North Dakota; and adult singers from the Heritage Chorale of Eastern North Carolina and the North Shore Community Singers from Winnetka.
Noted soprano Heather Hill will be the featured soloist at the concert. She has performed in opera, musical theater, film and television and currently is appearing in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera.
"That's part of the pressure," Wolfe added. "We're working with professionals and you want to sing at the level of people you're singing with."
The premiere performance is being sponsored by Distinguished Concerts International New York, a major production company that mounts large-scale concerts. Part of its mission is to be a "talent incubator, a star-maker and a presenter of broadly accessible, world-class musical entertainment."
Sandrock expects that her students will thrive in the state-of-the-art surroundings of the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The 1,086-seat auditorium is the main stage for chamber music at Lincoln Center and underwent a major renovation in 2009.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for our students," she said. "I'm hoping that our students will gain much from the experience of preparing for and participating in such a professional performance."
Their New York trip will not be all work, however. While there, the group will participate in a Broadway workshop, see Aladdin, the new Broadway musical, and visit tourist attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
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