Our Broadway Best

We wanted to share a few photos from our dinner last night at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. For those unfamiliar with Ellen’s, it is a retro 1950s theme restaurant located on Broadway. The diner is regarded as one of the best theme restaurants in New York because of its singing waitstaff. The diner also contains retro-themed memorabilia on the walls, an indoor train, a 1956 Predicta television and a “drive-in theater” screen that showcases performances of the 1950s. What great fun we had!

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Rehearsing with Rollo Dilworth

At the end of our day on Friday, we gathered with other participating choirs to rehearse with composer-in-residence Rollo Dilworth. Dilworth is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities and Music Education at the North Park University School of Music in Chicago, Illinois.

Our Carnegie performance tonight will include this spiritual composed by Dilworth specifically for this event. This fun video gives you just a taste of what the audience will hear tonight!

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Adjudicated Performance

One of the highlights of our participation in the American Music Performance Nationals for High School & Youth Choirs is an adjudicated performance to evaluate our singing technique, vocal quality and presentation style.

Our performance on Friday before a set of judges included four choral selections. The choir received fabulous scores and comments and, in the words of one judge, our singing was described simply as “stunning.” The judges gave special recognition to directors Claire Hodge and Ben Lane for the chorister’s excellent vocal training, repertoire and preparation.

Here are videos of two of the four selections from inside the LaFrak Concert Hall at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

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NYC Tour 2014: Day 2 Schedule

Good morning! We’re currently on our chartered motorcoach and headed to the borough of Queens to Queens College where we will be participating in the inaugural American Music Performance Nationals for High School & Youth Choirs.

At 10:30am, we will perform our first concert as part of an adjudicated performance. After the concert, we will participate in a vocal clinic with Dr. Lynne Gackle of Baylor University. The remainder of the day will be spent participating in special workshops with well-known clinicians, conductors and composers.

Afterwards, we will eat dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner and then dress up for a night on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre to see the Disney musical “Newsies,” inspired by the real-life newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City.

A fun day ahead and lots of pictures (and hopefully performance video) to come!

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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Following our tour of Carnegie Hall, we visited the Cathedral of St. Patrick, commonly called St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral church is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and a parish church.

Located underneath the high altar is a crypt in which notable Catholic figures that served the Archdiocese are entombed. They include eight past deceased Archbishops of New York. Some notable people whose Requiem Masses were held at the cathedral include New York Yankees greats Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Billy Martin; legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, singer Celia Cruz, entertainer and host Ed Sullivan, and former Attorney General and U.S. Senator from New York Robert F. Kennedy.

St. Patrick’s is currently in the middle of a massive five-year, three-phase, $175 million renovation because of crumbling bricks, faulty heating, and acid rain and pollution that has eaten away at the Tuckahoe marble of the 135-year-old church.

Renovations include the interior and exterior of the structure from 5th Avenue to the high altar. Key scopes of work in these phases are the restoration of the gallery organ, the Cathedral’s pews, stained glass windows, exterior stonework, altar niches and ceiling plasterwork. Efforts are underway to secure the additional funding for the remainder of the work on the Cathedral campus, including the high altar and Lady Chapel, a new heating and cooling system and the Cathedral garden. 

Watch St. Patrick’s marble being cleaned and becoming white again in this time lapse video.

Restoration Transformation from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Vimeo.

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Touring Carnegie Hall

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After our lunch today, we walked to Carnegie Hall for a behind-the-scenes tour of this amazing concert venue in Midtown Manhattan.

Carnegie Hall hosts an astounding 170 concerts each year, featuring a remarkable range of performances by many of the world’s greatest artists and ensembles from the worlds of classical, pop, jazz and world music.

We also learned that Carnegie Hall has free cough drop dispensers so guests don’t cough during the performances, compliments of Ricola. We have a photo prove it!

Read about Carnegie Hall’s rich history here and here.

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Our Arrival in the Big Apple

We enjoyed a full and fabulous first day in New York City today! We left the airport  in Newark and journeyed by motorcoach through the Lincoln Tunnel into the city. After storing our luggage at our hotel, we headed out on foot to explore Midtown Manhattan. Our first stop was the underground concourse at Rockefeller Plaza where we enjoyed lunch in the massive food court.

Rockefeller Center, home to Radio City Music Hall and Today Show studios, is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st streets. Built by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan, spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and developed it beginning in 1930. Rockefeller initially planned to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera on the site, but changed plans after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Metropolitan’s continual delays to hold out for a more favorable lease, causing Rockefeller to move forward without them.

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We’re Here!

Our flight just touched down safely at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

As soon as we deplane we will meet our tour director, Debra Cushing, and board a chartered motorcoach for a short trip to our host hotel in Midtown Manhattan. We’ve dug up some interesting history on the hotel, but we’ll save that for another post.

On tap for the remainder of today is lunch in Times Square, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of Carnegie Hall — the site of our live performance on Saturday evening. Late this afternoon, we will visit the Top of the Rock observation deck and then enjoy dinner at a New York pizzeria!

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Here We Go!

The Orlando Deanery Boychoir and Orlando Deanery Girls Choir have boarded their flight from Orlando to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Scheduled arrival time is 10:08am.

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It’s Up to You, New York

New York Harbor

Start spreadin’ the news, we’re leavin’ today.
We want to be a part of it, New York, New York.

If we can make it there, we’ll make it ANYWHERE!

Good morning, New York. Our tour begins today!

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The Story of Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall Exterior

The story of Carnegie Hall begins in the middle of the Atlantic. In the spring of 1887, on board a ship traveling from New York to London, newlyweds Andrew Carnegie, the rich industrialist, and Louise Whitfield, daughter of a well-to-do New York merchant, were on their way to the groom’s native Scotland for their honeymoon. Also on board was the 25-year-old Walter Damrosch, who had just finished his second season as conductor and musical director of the Symphony Society of New York and the Oratorio Society of New York, and was traveling to Europe for a summer of study with Hans von Bülow. Whitfield, who knew Damrosch from her time as a singer in the Oratorio Society, introduced the young conductor to her new husband. Over the course of the voyage, the couple developed a friendship with Damrosch, inviting him to visit them in Scotland. It was there, at the Kilgraston estate, that Damrosch discussed his vision for a new concert hall in New York City. Carnegie expressed interest in committing a portion of his enormous wealth to the project, and the idea of Carnegie Hall was born.

From this germ of an idea grew a legendary concert hall whose allure has drawn the world’s greatest artists to its stages, setting the standard for excellence in music for more than a century. Gustav Mahler, Leopold Stokowski, Vladimir Horowitz, Liza Minnelli, Paul Robeson, Bob Dylan—they all made their mark at Carnegie Hall. Andrew Carnegie proclaimed at the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone in 1890, “It is built to stand for ages, and during these ages it is probable that this Hall will intertwine itself with the history of our country.” Indeed, some of the most prominent political figures, authors, and intellectuals have appeared at Carnegie Hall, from Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt to Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. In addition to standing as the pinnacle of musical achievement, Carnegie Hall has been an integral player in the development of American history.

[Reprinted from Carnegie Hall: Then and Now]

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Live from New York, It’s… Us!

We are very excited and pleased to announce that Sunday’s Festal Eucharist at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, sung by the Orlando Deanery Boychoir and Orlando Deanery Girls Choir, will be available as an audio webcast. The service will be broadcast live on the church’s website and will also be available on-demand for several weeks following the service.

Simply CLICK THIS LINK and click the ‘Listen’ button at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 22 to hear us in action!

Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

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You’re Only a Day Away!

Our 2014 New York City Tour begins tomorrow!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.
You’re only a day away!

New York Skyline

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La Liberté éclairant le monde

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La Liberté éclairant le monde, French for Liberty Enlightening the World, is the formal name of the Statue of Liberty, a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor. The statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, was a gift to the United States from the people of France.

Our choirs will visit Lady Liberty during their New York City Tour which begins later this week.

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3 Days Away!

NYC 2014 Tour Shirt

THREE DAYS! That’s how much time remains before the start of our long-awaited 2014 New York City Tour. We’ll be performing at Queens College, Carnegie Hall, and historic St. Paul’s Chapel, and we’ll serve as guest choir for Sunday services at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. We’ll visit Times Square, Top of the Rock observation deck, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and the 9/11 Memorial and Tribute Center, and we’ll take in a Broadway show. The music (and fun!) begins in three days!

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Dress Rehearsal and Tour T-Shirts

NYC Tour T-Shirts

This afternoon is a full dress rehearsal for our 2014 New York City Tour. It’s also shirt day… the day each tour participant receives their much-anticipated tour t-shirts. We always let the kids see them first, so we aren’t posting a full view of the shirt designs yet. You will see, however, that our color theme is All American with red, white and blue.

Here’s a look back at the fun shirts from our England tour in 2012.

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One Week!

New York City skyline

ONE WEEK! That’s how much time remains before the start of our long-awaited 2014 New York City Tour. We’ll be performing at Queens College, Carnegie Hall and historic St. Paul’s Chapel, and we’ll serve as guest choir for Sunday services at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. We’ll visit Times Square, Top of the Rock observation deck, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and we’ll take in a Broadway show. The music (and fun!) begins in one week!

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Broadening Our Choral Experience with Dr. Lynne Gackle

Dr. Lynne GackleOne highlight of this month’s American Music Performance Nationals for High School & Youth Choirs in New York City is our participation in special workshops with well-known clinicians, conductors and composers.

Our choristers are very fortunate to have a private workshop with Dr. Lynne Gackle, Professor of Ensembles and Associate Director of Choral Activities at Baylor University (Waco, TX) where she conducts the Baylor Bella Voce (Women’s Ensemble) and the Baylor Concert Choir. Gackle is an active clinician, conductor and adjudicator for choral clinics, honor choirs, workshops and festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Gackle has conducted All-State choirs in 28 states, several divisional American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) honor choirs and two ACDA national honor choirs. Her choirs performed at ACDA state, division, and national conferences and the Music Educators National Conference Biennial Convention. Internationally, she conducted the Australian National Choral Association’s High School Women’s Choir in Brisbane, the Alberta Choral Federation’s High School Honour Choir in Calgary, the DoDDS-Europe Honors Music Festival Mixed Choir, (Wiesbaden, Germany), the Haydn Youth Festival in Vienna, and the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) International Women’s Honor Choir in Beijing, China.

Gackle has a Florida connection, too — both in her education and in her founding of the Gulf Coast Youth Choirs in Tampa in 1992. Gackle received her BME from Louisiana State University and her MM and Ph.D. from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

This is a wonderful opportunity for our choristers to broaden their choral experience. We look forward to working with Dr. Gackle!

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Orlando Deanery Choirs to Perform at New York’s Queens College

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The Orlando Deanery Choirs are one of four choirs participating in the American Music Performance Nationals for High School & Youth Choirs that have been selected to sing a special concert at Queens College, located in the borough of Queens in New York City. The college is home to the Aaron Copland School of Music located in the music building, constructed in 1991. The building houses the music library and the 490-seat Lefrak Concert Hall with a tracker organ, electronic music studios, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and a professional-level recording studio.

Founded in 1937, the college has over 18,000 students and is located in the most diverse county in the nation — representing 120 countries and 66 different native languages.

The New York City skyline can be seen from the campus, as pictured above.

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Claire Hodge: A Look Back

Here is a wonderful slideshow tribute to Claire Hodge, retiring director of the Orlando Deanery Girls Choir. The presentation recaps her nearly 16 years as director of the choir.

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