University singers perform at Carnegie Hall

Alisa Boswell

Eastern New Mexico University choir students were given an extraordinary opportunity in March, when they sang at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Forty-four students from ENMU’s University Singers and Chamber Singers attended a festival choir performance organized by MidAmerica Productions, in which choirs from Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida also attended.

Jason Paulk, assistant professor of music, said he had been invited to conduct the festival last year and this year, he was invited to come back along with the ENMU choir.

“For ENMU, it was important to be invited to participate in such an event,” Paulk said. “It really puts ENMU in the national spotlight to have our singers performing a high-visibility concert in Carnegie Hall. Seeing the looks on the faces of all 220 singers when they first heard the sound in Carnegie Hall was priceless and made the hundreds of hours of preparation all worthwhile.”

Paulk said the experience was a positive one for showing students the world beyond New Mexico and giving them the opportunity to make music with world-class musicians.

He said some of his students said the experience had given them the desire to make music one of their life’s ambitions.

“They were mesmerized by the physical beauty of Carnegie Hall and the looks on their faces during our dress rehearsal was priceless,” Paulk said. “Many of the students said they had never had a more meaningful performance opportunity and that they would never forget the sounds we made in the hall.”

Paulk said the performance had an audience of nearly 2,000 people.

Jason Torres, junior and member of the University Singers, was one of the performers who attended the New York event.

“It’s indescribable really,” Torres said. “I think the greatest part of it wasn’t that we were singing in Carnegie Hall but the fact that we were singing with an amazing orchestra and different choirs from around the U.S. We were able to produce amazing sounds together.”

Torres said upon first arriving at Carnegie Hall, ENMU students were ushered through a back entrance and hallways. He said after rehearsing, the full of singing in Carnegie Hall didn’t hit many choir members until later.

Torres said the experience of seeing New York City was also amazing and overwhelming.

Paulk said he was very pleased with the outcome of the performance and with the amount of viewers it drew in.

“I was very pleased with the entire tour. The rehearsal venue was top notch and the performance was really overwhelming,” Paulk said. “While I don’t know exactly what’s next for our singers, I do know that the world is wide open and full of opportunities and I hope that these opportunities provide each of our students with the same outlook on life that the entire world is available to them.”

Paulk said the ENMU choir will be holding a performance on April 22 at the University Theatre Center at ENMU.