Top of the Rock

During our recent New York City Tour, we visited Top of the Rock, an observation deck located on the top of what is called the GE Building, an Art Deco skyscraper that forms the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan. Known as the RCA Building until 1988, it is most famous for housing the NBC television network headquarters. At 850 feet high, the 70-story building is the 13th tallest in New York City and the 39th tallest in the United States. Some of the building’s nicknames include The Slab and 30 Rock. The latter is derived from its address at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The building is currently undergoing an extensive interior renovation, which will also result in it being renamed the Comcast Building, complete with new Comcast signage at street level and atop the building, including the display of the iconic NBC Peacock logo on the building’s exterior for the first time.

Check us out…

File969File979File1029File1170File1154 (2)File1144File1158File1086

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Prayer for Peace Comes Home

One of the highlights of our New York City tour was performing inside St. Paul’s Chapel, the historic church that sits opposite the World Trade Center site. After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, which led to the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, St. Paul’s Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site.

The church survived without even a broken window, spared by a sycamore tree on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris.

The song “Prayer for Peace,” written specifically for the Orlando Deanery Boychoir and Orlando Deanery Girls Choir by Orlando composer Robert Kerr, is a prayer composed as an artistic response to the tragedies of that day. The song has been part of the choir’s repertoire since 2002. But today’s performance was extra special. After 12 years of performing the song for audiences around the world, we were finally able to bring the song to Ground Zero and offer this beautiful prayer of reconciliation. God bless America, let freedom ring!

Lord, grant us wisdom in our hour of need.
And give us vision, that we clearly see,
Your loving nature; Your mercies might.
Bring us from darkness into Your light.

Lord, touch our nation with Your healing hand.
And give us comfort o’er all the land.
Reveal Yourself to us and make us whole,
Reside with in each heart and soul.

For there are battles we must fight,
And stand together with courage for what is right.
Against the evil which infects us still,
Lord, give us conviction to know your will.

Please help the strong to defend the weak,
but not in anger or revenge to seek,
So through Your justice let conflict cease.
Oh, unify us, and bring us peace.

For there are battles we must fight,
and stand with courage for what is right.
Against all evil, sin and wrong,
give us conviction to carry on! Alleluia.

Lord, bless our soldiers across the sea,
and help them to set more people free.
And in their hearts may they have pride to sing,
“God bless America, let freedom ring.” Amen.

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Singing at St. Paul’s Chapel

Listen to several songs performed inside historic St. Paul’s Chapel during our recent singing tour of New York City. George Washington, along with members of Congress, worshipped at St. Paul’s Chapel on his Inauguration Day, on April 30, 1789. Washington also attended services at St. Paul’s during the two years New York City was the country’s capital. Above Washington’s pew is an 18th-century oil painting of the Great Seal of the United States.

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We’re Home!

Touchdown… we’re home! After nearly 2,300 miles of travel by air, subway, motorcoach and on foot, we’re back in Orlando. The 2014 New York City Tour has officially come to a close.

What a privilege and honor it has been for us to sing these past six days in some of New York City’s most beautiful and historically-significant venues and churches. Thanks to all those who helped get us there… to our parents, extended family, friends, local businesses, Mr. Lane and Mrs. Hodge, our tour director, the Cathedral, our chaperones, and most of all to our wonderful financial supporters. We could not have done it without the thoughtful support and prayers of each of you.

We set out on this tour to spread the message and love of Christ through our ministry of song. To that we say: Mission accomplished!

Thanks for following our tour through this website. Watch for additional tour photos and video in the coming days.

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Farewell, New York!

Good afternoon! We have boarded our plane in Newark, pushing back from the gate now. Total flight time: 2 hours, 58 minutes. We’re scheduled for an on-time arrival in Orlando at 8:27pm. See you soon!

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NYC Tour 2014: Day 6 Schedule


Good morning! Today is the sixth and final day of our New York City tour. It’s also our final singing performance and the last day with Claire Hodge as the Girls Choir director, after nearly 16 years of service. This definitely will be an emotional day for all of us as we say goodbye.

After breakfast, we’ll board our motorcoach and head to the financial district and the 9/11 Tribute Center and Memorial. The center offers visitors to the World Trade Center site a place where they can connect with people from the 9/11 community. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, the 9/11 Tribute Center offers “person-to-person history,” linking visitors who want to understand these historic events with the people who experienced them. Stories from the 9/11 community are a bridge from the past to the present, helping students understand the significant impact of 9/11 in history and in shaping the future. As memorable as that day was for most of us, we have to remind ourselves that we have a good number of choristers in the choir who weren’t even born when the terrorist attacks occurred. It’s important for them to understand the impact of that day.

Then we’ll move over to the 9/11 Memorial, the principal memorial commemorating the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. The memorial consists of two pools with the largest manmade waterfalls in the U.S. cascading down their sides at the footprints of the Twin Towers. Each pool is 1-acre and together they are intended to symbolize the loss of life and the physical void left by the terrorist attacks. The sound of the water falling is supposed to drown out the sounds of the city, making the site a contemplative sanctuary. Almost 400 sweet gum and swamp white oak trees fill the remaining 6 acres of the Memorial Plaza, furthering the reflective nature of the site.

At 12:30 we’ll participate in a prayer service at St. Paul’s Chapel, followed by our concert at 1pm inside the chapel. Then it’s back on the motorcoach for the Newark Liberty International Airport and our flight home to Orlando.

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Our Tour T’s

This gallery contains 6 photos.

In the photos posted here over the past week, you’ve probably noticed us wearing matching t-shirts for the tour. These shirts were the brainchild of chorister parent Chris Gent who spearheaded the design and printing of the shirts. The designs … Continue reading

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New York Skyline in HDR

We wanted to share this really neat photo taken by our tour photographer and chorister parent Chris Gent as we were returning to Manhattan from Ellis Island this afternoon aboard a passenger ferry. The photo is a high-dynamic-range imaging or HDR image and is accomplished by a set of techniques used to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than possible using standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. It is often achieved by capturing and then combining different exposures of the same subject matter. A complicated description for a very beautiful photo of the New York City skyline. Enjoy!


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Up Against The Wall

Moving 47 tour participants through the streets of New York City can be a real challenge. It’s easy to get separated on busy sidewalks, hectic intersections, in crowded parks and in packed subway stations. We found the quickest way to avoid confusion when riding the subway is to have the choristers step out of the subway car and immediately line up against the wall, allowing the rest of the passengers to exit the train platform. Our directors, Ben Lane and Claire Hodge, have been yelling “up against the wall” throughout the tour and we knew we had to capture one of these moments in a photo!


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The Many Hats of the Orlando Deanery Choirs

The beauty of our choir is its diversity and the unique talent and style each chorister brings to the choir. Hats are no different. Check out the variety of hats worn during this tour.


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Ellis Island Immigration Museum

This gallery contains 11 photos.

After our loop around Liberty Island, we docked at Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of immigrants to the U.S. as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. By the time it closed on November 12, 1954, … Continue reading

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Statue of Liberty

On our way to Ellis Island this morning we circled around Liberty Island on the passenger ferry which provided us with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty.

The 151-foot statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad.


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We mentioned in a previous post about the interesting past of our host hotel, the Row NYC in Midtown Manhattan.

Located in the heart of the Theater District and one block from Times Square, this historic hotel is one of the largest hotels in the city with 1,331 rooms. The hotel opened on February 13, 1928 as the Hotel Lincoln, one day after the 113th anniversary of the birth of its namesake, Abraham Lincoln.

The hotel was purchased by prominent real estate developer William Zeckendorf in September 1957, remodeled and renamed the Manhattan Hotel. The existing Hotel Lincoln sign was removed and in 1958 a new, now iconic neon sign was added atop the building to replace it—an enormous letter “M” 31 feet wide and 12 feet deep. Zeckendorf ran the Manhattan until 1964 when it was sold to the English & became the Royal Manhattan.

Unfortunately, in the 1960s, things started downhill for the Manhattan. By the late 1970s the hotel was closed and boarded up. In 1978, the Milstein family purchased the hotel and reopened it in 1980. They named it the Milford Plaza Hotel because they did not want to change the huge neon “M” sign on the roof.

It’s appropriate that our choir is housed in this hotel because it has a musical past of its own. American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, Count Basie & Lester Young played in the Blue Room nightclub of the hotel for many years.

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NYC Tour 2014: Day 5 Schedule

Good morning, New York! Today is Day 5 of our tour and it’s the first day we have no scheduled rehearsals or performances. Everyone was given permission to sleep in this morning and after breakfast we’ll travel to Battery Park by subway where we will board a ferry for tours of Ellis Island and Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty.

This afternoon, we have several hours of free time in Greenwich Village, followed by dinner at The Garage Restaurant & Cafe. This restaurant provides more live jazz than anywhere in the world.

Statue of Liberty

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Goodbye, Andrea :(

Immediately following today’s service at Saint Thomas Church, we said a tearful goodbye to chorister Andrea Rivera who not only departed the tour early for a family vacation but officially leaves the Orlando Deanery Girls Choir after many years of faithful service. Both Andrea and her older sister Natalia were members of the choir and participated in our Anglican Heritage Tour to England in 2012.

Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your gift of music. We will miss you!


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Festal Eucharist at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

We had a splendid morning rehearsing and singing for the 11am Festal Eucharist today at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Many thanks to organist and director of music John Scott and assistant organist Benjamin Sheen who provided us with wonderful hospitality during our stay.

A reminder that today’s service was recorded and is available on-demand for the next month on the Saint Thomas Church website. Simply CLICK THIS LINK and click the ‘Listen’ button at the bottom of the page.

Here are some video and photo highlights.


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Sounds of Carnegie

We thought you would enjoy hearing a portion of our performance from Saturday evening’s concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert was part of the C3 Choral Convergence Concert & Rising Star Showcase. These three songs feature a massed choir that included the Orlando Deanery Boychoir and Orlando Deanery Girls Choir, Bishop Blanchet High School Choir (WA), Milwaukee Children’s Choir (WI) and the York County Honors Choirs (PA). The concert was under the direction of Grant Gershon.

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NYC Tour 2014: Day 4 Schedule

St. Thomas Church

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through our New York City tour! Last night’s performance at Carnegie Hall was magical and we felt so fortunate to have been one of only 15 youth choirs in the entire country to be invited to perform.

This morning, we’re headed to Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue for rehearsal, followed by the singing of the 11am Festal Eucharist. A reminder that today’s service 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 11am this morning.

Immediately following the service, we’ll make our way to the American Museum of Natural Historyone of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world. The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens of plants, humans, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time, and occupies 1.6 million square feet — roughly the size of the Florida Mall back in Orlando. We’ll spend the afternoon exploring this wonderful cultural treasure which is also the featured museum in the film Night at the Museum (2006).

This afternoon, we’ll attend Evensong at the Cathedral of St. John the DivineThis cathedral vies with England’s Liverpool Cathedral for the title of the largest cathedral and church in the world. It is also the fourth largest Christian church in the world.

We’ll wrap up the day with dinner at Carmine’s, a family style Italian restaurant. We’ve got a great day ahead!

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Our Carnegie Debut!

Here are a few photos from last night’s American Musical Performance National Choirs performance at Carnegie Hall. The Orlando Deanery Choirs were one of only 15 youth choirs from across the U.S. invited to participate in the performance. You can spot us in the top right corner of the massed choir.

Carnegie Hall Performance 1Carnegie Hall Performance 2

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NYC Tour 2014: Day 3 Schedule

Good morning, Orlando Deanery Choir fans! We’re all up and ready to tackle Day 3 of our singing tour of New York City. Tonight is our debut at Carnegie Hall!

Our day begins this morning with a short walk to Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue where we will rehearse for tomorrow morning’s Festal Eucharist as guest choir. Afterwards, it’s off to lunch at Saigon 48, a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

Today marks our official introduction as a choir to the New York subway system. After lunch, we take the subway to James Memorial Chapel at Union Theological Seminary for a full rehearsal of tonight’s performance at Carnegie Hall. The seminary is an independent seminary in Manhattan founded in 1836 under the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.and is affiliated with nearby Columbia University.

After rehearsal, we’re back on the subway system to Carnegie Hall where we will have dinner and then dress for the concert.

It’s an exciting day… and we can’t wait for the bright lights of the Carnegie stage!

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