Tarleton choir receives standing ovation at New York’s Carnegie Hall

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STEPHENVILLE (March 31, 2016) — Student vocalists in Tarleton State University’s Chamber Choir enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime this past weekend when the 53-member choral ensemble performed inside New York City’s Carnegie Hall on the most prestigious concert stage in the United States.

Performing Easter Sunday, March 27, the Tarleton Chamber Choir—under the direction of Dr. Troy Robertson and accompanied on piano by alumnus Jeremy Bowen—received a standing ovation at the conclusion of a 40-minute concert on the Ronald O. Perelman Stage inside the 2,800-seat Isaac Stern Auditorium.

The Chamber Choir performs Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 2. The choral masterworks concert takes place at First Baptist Church in Stephenville.

The choir’s Carnegie Hall debut was part of the 2016 Gotham Sings! Collegiate Choral Showcase, a concert that featured four university ensembles, including the Tarleton Chamber Choir, Iowa State Singers, the University Singers of New Mexico State and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Southern Chorale.

This past weekend’s Carnegie Hall appearance by the Tarleton choir comes two years after the university’s Wind Ensemble performed on the same stage in April 2014.

The choir’s showcase included Claudio Monteverdi’s Lauda Jerusalem; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Laudate Dominum, featuring a solo performance by award-winning soprano and Tarleton assistant professor Dr. Heather Hawk; Se Enkhbayar’s Naiman Sharag(Eight Chestnut Horses); Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Turtle Dove, with baritone soloist and Tarleton assistant professor Dr. Iwao Asakura; Alice Parker and Robert Shaw’s Whup! Jamboree; Joni Jensen’s El Vito, featuring student soprano soloist Racheal Tuggle; and Shawn Kirchner’s Unclouded Day.

In addition to its Carnegie Hall repertoire, the Tarleton Chamber Choir presented the world premier of Robertson’s own choral composition, We Are the Music Makers, before the impressive audience of regular New York City patrons, parents and supporters of the university’s Department of Fine Arts.

At the conclusion of its concert, the Tarleton Chamber Choir received a standing ovation for a flawless performance.

The Tarleton State University Chamber Choir on the Ronald O. Perelman Stage inside Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium just before their March 27 concert in New York City.
The Tarleton State University Chamber Choir on the Ronald O. Perelman Stage inside Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium just before their March 27 concert in New York City.

On Monday morning, the Chamber Choir gave a second New York City concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York—the world’s largest Anglican cathedral.

“I was incredibly proud of our students and their performances on Sunday and Monday. By the time we reached our final Saturday rehearsal on March 19, I knew they were ready,” said Robertson. “They worked so hard, both in hours of extra rehearsal with the ensemble and on their own, and I felt the group coming together in those hours.

“On our Saturday in New York, we gathered on the 16th floor of a building that houses studios for groups such as ours. In those 45 minutes, the excitement was absolutely electric,” Roberston added. “Stepping onto the stage in Carnegie Hall was merely the icing on the cake. They knew the work they had done to come to that point, and they sang with all their hearts.”

Senior vocal performance major Jacob Humphries said numerous contributions to students helped make the trip to New York City and Carnegie Hall.

“Performing at Carnegie Hall was amazing! You could have dropped a pin on that stage and heard it come back off the opposing wall. The acoustics were incredible,” he said. “With this trip, I have become more in-tune with myself as a musician. I was able to experience so much in such a short time, thanks to Tarleton and the wonderful opportunities we’ve been given.”

“Getting the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall is one that truly only comes once in a lifetime, if at all,” said freshman music education major Racheal Tuggle. “Each individual put so much into that performance by attending extra Saturday rehearsals and by using more practice time to get all the pieces memorized. It was our goal to not walk off stage in Carnegie feeling as if there were something we could have done differently or better.

“I’ve lived in Stephenville my entire life, and New York was almost like a different universe for me. It was reassuring to know that there is a world outside of Tarleton State in Stephenville with different cultures, traditions and opportunities,” she continued. “Adventure is certainly out there, and we all owe a huge thank you to Dr. Robertson for helping us realize that, and making a dream come true for many of us.”

Robertson said it is humbling to perform on Perelman Stage, but it meant even more to know that the students had friends and family in the audience.

“Each time I turned to acknowledge applause, I could see our Tarleton contingent, many of whom did so much to make sure our students were able to take part in that special night,” he said. “We are so grateful to President F. Dominic Dottavio, Provost Karen Murray, Vice President Laura Boren, Dean Kelli Styron and Dr. Teresa Davidian for all of their support, but especially for being in our audience that night.”

Representing the Tarleton Chamber Choir on stage were:
Sopranos – Rebekah Anthony, Diamond Beverly, Ashley Darby, Andrea Figarella, Cassie Goodwin, LeeAnn Hamilton, Devon Harper, Dr. Heather Hawk, Kayla Lincoln, Sierra Ortan, Channing Parker, Megan Rankin, Leah Reeves, Cheyenne Shreve, Allison Sinclair and Krystal Smith.

Altos – Laura Allen, Maria Belknap, Sapphire Beverly, Madison Bowen, Melissa Furber, Brittney Hicks, Sabirna Hillburn, Skylar Lochbaum, Lydia Perez, Janine Prukop, Jada Thomas, Katharine Thompson and Racheal Tuggle.

Tenors – Victor Becerra, Benjamin Coan, Nathan Early, Ty Green, Jacob Humphries, Bradley McKinney, Josh Newby, Noah Newby, Adrian Rodriguez, Ruben Ruiz, Lain Tomlinson and Samuel White.

Bass – Michael Ahlert, Christopher Allen, Dr. Iwao Asakura, Colby Burton, Oskar Gallardo, Matthew McMahon, Nathan Mena, Phillip Mullen, John Pollock, Zachary Steele and Logan Throckmorton.

About the Tarleton Chamber Choir
The university’s Chamber Choir is comprised of 53 members from the Tarleton State University community, including singers representing undergraduate music majors, undergraduate non-majors and two Tarleton faculty members, all under the direction of Dr. Troy Robertson, director of choirs. The vocalists hail from around the state of Texas. The Chamber Choir has toured abroad multiple times, including trips to Europe and Asia, most recently to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.

The Chamber Choir joins the University Singers and Cross Timbers Civic Chorale to perform as part of Tarleton’s masterwork presentations each fall and spring. These concerts have taken place for the past 36 years. This past year, Tarleton again welcomed the Fort Worthy Symphony Orchestra to perform John Rutter’s Gloria and J.S. Bach’s Magnificat. Chamber Choir students performed the solos in each piece.

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