From Kansas to Carnegie Hall: Conductor Kevin Coker and the National High School Choral Festival
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute recently announced the four choruses selected for its 2013 National High School Choral Festival (NHSCF), a one-of-a-kind program culminating in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and world-renowned conductor John Nelson on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
Below, conductor Kevin Coker of Blue Valley Northwest High School Chorale (Overland Park, Kansas) shares insight about the music scene in Kansas City, his chorus's pre-concert rituals, and what he's looking forward to most about next spring's performance at Carnegie Hall.
Blue Valley Northwest High School Chorale
What does it mean to you, your choir, and your community to be accepted into this program?
The NHSCF is perhaps the most prestigious and selective festival in the nation, and we feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate. Our singers are ecstatic about the opportunity to collaborate with choral programs from across the nation, work with world-class musicians, and perform on Carnegie Hall’s stage.
If somebody were to come to your town to check out the music scene, where should they go?
Kansas City has a rich musical heritage, and it features several incredible venues for concerts. The Sprint Center hosts some of the largest names in the music industry throughout the year, and the new Kauffman Center is quickly distinguishing itself as one of the premier classical performance venues in country. The historic jazz district centers around 18th and Vine, which is noted as being one of the cradles of jazz.
What are your concert traditions?
Before each concert, the entire choral department warms up in our choir room. Each ensemble starts their pieces, and we briefly rehearse any combined pieces we might have for the concert. It is a fun way for the singers to hear what is going on in the other ensembles before it is put on stage.
"Our singers are ecstatic about the opportunity to collaborate with choral programs from across the nation, work with world-class musicians, and perform on Carnegie Hall’s stage."
—Conductor Kevin Coker of Overland Park, Kansas
What's your choir's favorite piece of repertoire?
From this past year, I would have to say that our choir’s favorite pieces were Jonathan Quick’s “Loch Lomond” and Eric Whitacre’s “Go, Lovely Rose” from his Three Flower Songs. Our singers enjoy the process of working through challenging tuning and tonality shifts. They also had a lot of fun with the different dialects and diphthong aspects within those pieces.