The Chamber Choir at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead was one of 10 East Coast groups that performed at the National Festival Chorus at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center Sunday.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” said Jamie Calandro, the director of fine arts at Mercy and the chamber choir teacher. “They worked really hard to get here and it’s nice to see their efforts rewarded.”
Sixteen high school students and two junior high school students at Mercy were selected to sing at the concert, which was conducted this year by guest maestro Richard Mathey and featured the award-winning Troy High School Orchestra. Works performed included “O Be Joyful in the Lord” by John Rutter, “Spiritual” by Ysaye Barnwell, and “Silver Wings”, by John Carter.
“Working with the other choirs and guest conductor was one of the greatest experiences I have had as part of chamber choir,” said senior Kaylee Navarra of Manorville. Ms. Navarra, 17, is a soprano who joined the group her sophomore year.
In preparation for the concert, the chamber choir traveled to Manhattan Saturday to rehearse with the nine other groups selected to sing at the National Festival Chorus.
“It was intense,” Mr. Calandro, 32, said of the rehearsal. “They [the students] were a little worried because we had so little time to learn the music, but they were so excited. They got to perform with everybody and hear exactly what it’s going to sound like. It was a higher caliber than anything they’ve ever been a part of.”
Danielle Allen, a junior from Aquebogue who has been a member of the chamber choir for five years and sings alto, said that rehearsing with the other groups was “a little intimidating” at first.
“The other choirs were all so talented,” Ms. Allen, 16, said. “The sound we produced together was absolutely beautiful.”
Patrick O’Brien, a 16-year-old junior from Riverhead who sings tenor and baritone and has been a member of the chamber choir for five years, said he met a lot of “amazing people” during the experience.
“I think I left a better musician,” he said.
For Mr. Calandro, who has been teaching choir for 10 years at Mercy, the concert is a high point in a decade of hard work at the school.
“It’s very humbling and flattering to be recognized on a national level,” he said. “This is definitely my favorite moment since I started the Mercy chorus 10 years ago.”