Chamber orchestra preforms in New York City

On April 9, the Shorewood High School Chamber Orchestra played alongside Homestead High School at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The iconic venue, opened in 1891, has hosted a wide array of famous performers over the decades, from Russian composer Tchaikovsky to the Beatles.

The SHS orchestra has been performing in New York City since 2014, and was able to secure its spot at Carnegie through the company Midamerica Productions, which provides opportunities for high school and college groups to perform there.

“They rent the hall, they get us the dress rehearsal, they take care of all the logistics and they also promote the concert and give us an audience,” said Karen Frink, SHS orchestra teacher.

The students performed pieces composed by Bach, Florence Price, and Edvard Grieg, all of which they had been practicing since December. The group performed two concerts prior to April 9 showcasing the same music, including one held the night before the students left for New York.

“We have been playing this music for a long time, so I feel like we had a lot of repetition and just working through the parts and lots of run-throughs leading up to the show,” said Maia Cardew, junior and violinist.

Before the concert, the students were able to explore New York City for several days.. 

“The minute we got to New York, we…went sightseeing. We saw Top of the Rock, had free time downtown, and had a rehearsal at a really interesting music studio down by the river,” Frink said.

For their free time, Cardew and Joanna Townsend, junior and violinist, chose to walk through Central Park.

“I love New York… I love how unique it is,” Townsend said. “There’s just something for everyone there. It’s very diverse and there’s a lot of things going on, so it’s never boring.”

Other group activities included attending one of the last showings of The Phantom of The Opera on Broadway, seeing the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island, and visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

“It was really fun seeing [the students] in New York and seeing them interact with each other,” Frink said. “They were getting to know all the people from the different choirs that were at the concert…and I think a lot of the kids had never been to New York City before.”

For Frink, getting to travel as a group again after the beginning of the pandemic was a special opportunity. The prospect of travel also encouraged hard work in preparation for the performance.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had travel like this because of Covid. It was great to be able to go on a trip again with students and travel, do the overnights, have that experience,” Frink said. “And I think the kids asked more of themselves. They were more demanding of themselves getting ready for this concert.”

For Townsend, the importance of the venue didn’t change the experience of performing. 

“I feel like it didn’t really hit me that it was Carnegie Hall after our performance. It just kind of felt like another show,” Townsend said. “But the space is just really beautiful and the acoustics were really good.”

During the trip, Frink appreciated the enthusiasm shown by members of the orchestra during the concert. 

“I think my favorite part was how excited the kids were as we were backstage ready to get on,” Frink said. “I was able to make eye contact with a lot of kids…and I saw a lot of smiles and they were really excited.”

The trip was also a chance for students to connect and grow closer outside of the classroom.

“I think [the biggest benefit of this trip was] getting to know other people. I wasn’t really friends with a lot of people in the chamber orchestra, but after this trip, I feel a lot closer to a lot of the people than I was before,” Townsend said. “[It was] definitely a bonding activity.”