Troy University Concert Chorale performs at Carnegie Hall

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dr. Diane Orlofsky took a deep breath, exhaled, and clasped her hands together. She could find only one word to describe Troy University’s Concert Chorale’s May 25 performance at Carnegie Hall: “Spectacular!”

Going in, Orlofsky, Troy University professor of music and conductor of the Concert Chorale, had defined the opportunity for the Concert Chorale as “a tremendous honor” and a “benchmark for the university and the choral program.”

When the concert ended and while the applause continued, Orlofsky realized the opportunity was even more than that.
“I had told the choir that performance could be a life changing experience for them,” she said. “I don’t think they understood then. Now, they are saying to me, ‘I’ll never be the same.’”

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The Concert Chorale was invited to perform as part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York City (DCINY) because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers and at the invitation of internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Dr. Eric Barnum.

“Our students were familiar with Dr. Barnum because of his outstanding reputation and through our commissioned piece, ‘Evensong.’ They loved doing this piece and had great admiration for his work,” Orlofsky said.

“We were all extremely excited to have this privilege and thrilling opportunity to perform in historic Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s greatest concert halls,” Orlofsky said. “It represented excellence in musical achievement. To get there took a year of fundraising and hours and hours of preparation. Was it worth it? Every bit.”

The group of 37 singers arrived in New York well aware that they had a unique opportunity to learn from and perform for one of the most highly regarded conductors in the world.

“Being in New York was a first-time experience for many members of the group but they all realized why we were there,” Orlofsky said. “To prepare for the concert, 12 hours of practice were scheduled.”

From the beginning, the conductor told the singers not to call him Dr. Barnum.

“Let’s get this out of the way. Call me Eric.’”

Orlofsky sat in on all practices and said her kids were totally involved.

“Even after 10 hours, they were just as attentive as in hour one,” she said. “They realized what a unique opportunity it was to learn from Dr. Barnum.”

From the moment the students arrived at Carnegie Hall, Orlofsky said they were awestruck.

“To walk those halls and see those who have performed there – ‘Live at Carnegie Hall! Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles…’ It goes on and on. The greatest performers in the world have performed at Carnegie Hall.”

Orlofsky said when the poster for “their concert,” Vocal Colors, was placed out front announcing “The Music of Eric Barnum” performance tonight, was when reality hit.

“The Troy University Concert Chorale was performing at Carnegie Hall!’

The dress rehearsal that afternoon was the first time the choirs had sung in Carnegie Hall.

“The acoustics were stunning,” Orlofsky said. “It was unbelievable how beautiful the voices were. I knew it was going to be the performance of a lifetime for the Troy University Concert Chorale.”

The hall was filled for the performance. Family members of the singers were in attendance, about 50 of them. Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins and the First Lady, several members of the Troy University faculty and a group of townspeople had come to New York for the performance.

The Troy University Concert Chorale performed with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Chamber Choir and a choir from Washington State, about 90 voices in all.

The program included Barnum’s “A Thousand Red Birds,” “Afternoon on a Hill” and “Evensong.”

“The program closed with a Swedish hymn,” Orlofsky said. “As the choirs filed off stage, I could see that many of them had been moved to tears. For them, it was a time they will always remember and, for many, it was a life-changing experience.”