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From the National High School Choral Festival: Sarah Dudney on the Berlioz Requiem

Sarah DudneyCarnegie Hall's 2010–2011 National High School Choral Festival brings together selected choirs from across the country with professional singers for a one-of-a-kind, yearlong educational program, culminating in a final performance at Carnegie Hall.

It all started with the announcement way back in September: Our group had been selected to sing at Carnegie Hall! We were astonished by the incredible opportunity, and also by the difficulty of the music. The next months were filled with lots of hard work; we dedicated our Saturday mornings from 9–12 to the cause of Berlioz. The rhythms and notes of the piece were hard enough, but then, of course it had to be written in Latin! And worst of all, there was no alto part! What on earth was Berlioz thinking?

Well, when festival maestro Norman Mackenzie came to work with us, he actually helped to fill us in on what Berlioz was thinking. Berlioz was a crazy guy, but he sure knew how to write radical music. Mr. Mackenzie taught us about so many things during that practice. He made the time fly by, and it was one of the best, most enjoyable rehearsals that I have ever had. The group as a whole also learned much during that Saturday practice, not only about the translation and stories of the text, but about all of the hundreds of elements that go into singing in a chorus. Perfect vowel sounds, singing in tune, correct rhythms and pitches, and doing it all in synchronization with the orchestra—it is incredibly hard, but it will be amazing when it all comes together on February 13.

We learned so much in just one practice, and we have a whole week of that coming up in New York! I think I'm going to take notes so that I can remember all of this valuable information and share it with others later on. We are ecstatic for this opportunity—to be working with professionals, to be under the direction of Mr. Mackenzie, to be in New York City, and of course to be standing on the same stage that thousands of famous musicians have stood on before us. It's going to be better than anything I've ever experienced. I'm excited to make new friends in the other choirs, both young and old. I feel so blessed and honored to have been chosen for this concert of a lifetime, and I greatly thank all of the people who made this opportunity possible.


—Sarah Dudney, Central York High School
2010–2011 National High School Choral Festival Participant
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