Hamilton students sing in Christmas at Carnegie Hall
By David Karas | Correspondent
Young singers attending St. Gregory the Great Academy, Hamilton Square, recently had the opportunity to kick off the Christmas season with a special performance on an acclaimed, national stage.
The school’s choir performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall Nov. 21 as part of the 6th Annual Christmas in New York City concert, and students sang with the American Festival Choir and in presenting the world premiere of the original composition, The Story of Christmas.
“Watching them take the stage last night was one of the most amazing moments that any principal could hope to experience,” school principal Jason Briggs wrote in an email to parents the following day. “The fact that that the choir of our school is not only trained to a point that they would be invited to be a part of such a performance, but that they performed on one of the world’s most prestigious stages is amazing and humbling at the same time.”
The opportunity came about through a connection between academy music director Kristin Bergin and Red Bank Catholic High School music director Shawn Mack. Mack’s students have performed in Carnegie Hall for several years, and one of his colleagues in New York was on the lookout for a children’s choir to sing one number in particular – “Give This Christmas Away.” Mack then contacted Bergin, and her choir got its first chance to sing on the national stage.
“I had such an overwhelming sense of joy and gratefulness,” said Bergin. “It is every musician’s dream to perform there, and to have this opportunity for middle school students was absolutely priceless.”
She said that the students loved the experience, despite the preparation required and the long day in the city.
“Many of them couldn’t believe that every seat was filled,” she said, noting the sold-out performance.
“Performing at Carnegie Hall for this unique opportunity gave the academy choir a chance to join other Christians from all over the United States to raise their voices in song and rejoice in the Birth of our Savior,” she added. “As we approach the holy season of Advent, it ignited the flame of excitement as we wait for the Birth of our Lord.”
Eighth-grader Sarah Griffin, 14, and a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, has been part of the choir for three years, and enjoys the opportunity to sing along with her peers while meeting new people.
She admitted having some nerves about the choir’s big performance. “It was definitely scary at first, but as soon as we started singing, we just realized that if you have fun, nothing else matteras,” she shared. “I also want to say that singing is the best part of life and music can get you through anything.”
She also reflected on the honor of performing in Carnegie Hall.
“Some people older than us are still dreaming about this and we, at our age, get to say that we did it,” she said. “It’s really neat to be able to say that to yourself and to others. It’s something I can be proud of.”
Fellow parishioner Kate Cottrell, 10, was one of the fifth-grade students who participated. She joined the choir earlier this year.
“It was so exciting,” she said of the performance in Carnegie Hall. “I got to see my family, and it was fun to look for them out of all of the people there.”
She also recalled something her family said: “When you get older, you can tell your kids that you got to sing at Carnegie Hall.”[[In-content Ad]]