COLUMBIA, Ky. -- A group of Lindsey Wilson College students, faculty and staff will participate in the equivalent of the choral Final Four next week in Carnegie Hall.
The eight LWC students, alumna and faculty member will be part of a performance of Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria" on Monday night in New York City's Carnegie Hall. The performance - which will merge more than 175 vocalists - will be accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
"The honor of being selected to perform at Carnegie Hall is to the classical musician what winning the Final Four is to a college basketball team," said LWC Associate Professor of Music and Religion and Director of Choral Programs Gerald Chafin (left). "I'm incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our choral students to perform at this level of musicianship."
Chafin will take six Lindsey Wilson students to next Monday night's concert: Molly Atkinson of Louisville, Ky.; Jenny Burdine Pine Knot, Ky.; Allison Chafin of Columbia; Katelin Frederick of Hustonville, Ky.; Tyler McCubbins of Magnolia, Ky.; and Josh Stephens of Stearns, Ky.
Also performing will be alumna Sara Hargis. Currently an LWC admissions counselor, Hargis was a member of the Lindsey Wilson Singers and she participated in the college's inaugural Carnegie Hall appearance.
Monday night will be the third time Lindsey Wilson students have performed at Carnegie Hall concert -- the other two were in 2002 and '06.
"It is a great deal of work to prepare for this concert, but students discover that it is worth the effort," Chafin. "It's an experience they will cherish and remember for the rest of their lives."
Students, who were selected for the program last fall, have spent the last seven months learning Vivaldi's popular vocal work. When they get to New York City, they will spend three more days of intensive rehearsals.
"In addition to the workouts, we'll enjoy getting to know the approximately 175 other singers who are participating in the collaborative project," Chafin said.
Hargis recalled her 2002 performance on the stage of legendary Carnegie Hall, calling it a "surreal moment."
"Walking onto the stage at Carnegie Hall for the first time was such a surreal moment," she said.
Atkinson said she has heard a lot about the special feeling singers get when they walk onto the historic Carnegie Hall stage.
"Everybody I have talked to that has gone on this trip says it's one thing to see a performance on the stage of Carnegie Hall, but it's a whole different thing when you step out on the stage and look into the crowd," said Atkinson, who will be a Christian ministries senior in 2009-10. "They say it's breathtaking to step out and look into the crowd."
For McCubbins, Monday night's concert will be the perfect end to his college career. Last month, he received a bachelor's degree in biology from Lindsey Wilson.
"When I found out about the opportunity, I knew it was a chance of a lifetime to sing on the stage in Carnegie Hall, so I didn't want to pass it up," he said.
Monday night's performance will be especially meaningful to the Chafin family as Chafin's daughter, Allison, will be among those performing.
"A special honor for me is the opportunity to share the Carnegie stage with my daughter, Allison," Chafin said. "I'm certain it will be a priceless moment for us."
Lindsey Wilson already has a connection with Shulamit Hoffmann, the conductor of Monday night's concert. During the trip's planning stages last spring, the Lindsey Wilson Singers performed at the Los Altos United Methodist Church, Hoffmann's home church in San Francisco.
"It was a pleasure for our students to meet her and begin talking about the Carnegie Hall concert," Chafin said. "We're looking forward to Monday night."
Chafin noted that on the previous two trips to New York, the students experienced several surprises that made the experiences even more meaningful. For example, during the 2002 trip, students visited the site of the former World Trade Center less than a year after it had been demolished by terrorists.
Hargis remembered singing "Be Still My Soul" at Ground Zero in 2002 as the last beam from the World Trade Center was removed from the site.
"That was a moment that touched my heart in a way that nothing else had before," she said.Readers can follow the Lindsey Wilson Singers' trip to New York and Monday night concert at Carnegie Hall on Twitter. Beginning on Friday, June 26, Hargis will update the Singers' Twitter page with pictures, comments and sounds. To follow her on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/lwcsingers.