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From New Jersey to Carnegie Hall: Conductor Beth Prins 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 Beth Prins of the New Jersey Home Schoolers Chorale (NJHSA) based in Hawthorne, New Jersey, shares insight about the music scene in Hawthorne, her chorus's pre-concert rituals, and what she's looking forward to most about next spring's performance at Carnegie Hall.

New Jersey Home Schoolers Chorale. Photo by David Chen.

What does it mean to you, your choir, and your community to be accepted into this program?

We are thrilled to be part of the 2012 National High School Choral Festival at Carnegie Hall! Most of our families place a great importance on the arts and are keenly aware of the honor it is to be selected for this program.

If somebody were to come to your town to check out the music scene, where should they go?

NJHSA is a homeschool support organization serving families throughout the New York metropolitan area. We live within driving distance of major concert halls in NYC and Philadelphia, but music thrives in our local communities as well. In the summer, there are free music concerts at parks, schools, places of worship, and shopping centers. Most of the local towns have symphony orchestras and community choirs. The best place to catch a concert in Hawthorne, New Jersey, is at the local library.

What are your concert traditions?

Pre-concert: We have warm-ups, walk-throughs, and a time of prayer before every concert. Post-concert: Our concerts sometimes have receptions. Otherwise, small groups of students goes out for fast food or ice cream. Concert traditions include "The Irish Blessing" (Joyce Eilers Bacak), sung at graduation, and the alumni join with the choir to sing Wilhousky's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the spring concert. Our select choir has a concert tour every year that involves work projects, collecting donations, and performing concerts for underprivileged children and adults.

What's your choir's favorite piece of repertoire?

"Stars" by Dan Forrest because it is so expressive and has an "awesome" percussion accompaniment, and "Old Dan Tucker" arr. by John Leavitt because we love the fiddle solos and choreography.

Related Content:  

From Kansas to Carnegie Hall: Conductor Kevin Coker and the National High School Choral Festival 
Congratulations to 2013's National High School Choral Festival Choruses
Kent Tritle: Four Fundamentals for Choruses
2012–2013 National High School Choral Festival


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