Lake Shore High School choirs explored New York City, New York last week for their annual Festivals of Music competition, in which they stole the show placing first in all three groups (show, chamber, and concert choirs).
Kicking off their trip after the 13 hour bus ride these students arrived at the Miss Jersey ferry, which would take them to not only Ellis Island which has become a museum, but Liberty Island, where they would see the lady herself up close and personal. “It’s kind of surreal to see things you’ve only seen in movies in real life, it’s almost like you never thought they were real in some way,” says Danielle Marzejka, sophmore.
Following that, they would arrive in Battery Park in which they would have their first real New York experience (everyone selling merchandise on the streets, people break dancing in the middle of the park for money, even dirty-water-hot-dog food stands). It was there they would make the trek to the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum, which would leave most of the kids and all of the chaperones distraught, but would bring a deeper connection to the song “Requiem” they would later be performing. After several hours there, the students would take some time to do some Fifth Avenue shopping, and then head to Naples 45 for a New York style pizza dinner. After the first day of exploring (and very little sleep on the bus), the students were very ready to be back to their hotel rooms to sleep and prepare for the next day.
By 6 a.m. the next morning, the students were up and preparing for their choir competition. In their attire and red lipstick coated they headed to Felician University Where they would be performing that day. After two hours of rehearsal, concert choir was first to hit the stage with their performance of “Joshua’s Battle” by Greg Gilpin and “Requiem”, a song dedicated to the victims of natural disasters, and really any disaster (which is the reason why director Matthew Smith picked this piece to perform, giving it a spark of passion in us after the prior day’s visit), by Eliza Gilkyson. After a heartfelt performance, chamber choir performed “Chili Con Carne” by Anders Edenroth, which was one of the most complex and difficult songs they’ve ever performed, following that with a moving serenade of “I am Not Yours” by David N. Childs. After leaving the audience speechless, a few other schools performed leading up to the final Lake Shore performance, show choir. Show choir took the stage to wow the crowd with not only their singing talents, but their dancing skills as well, with “Ease on Down” by Charlie Smalls and “Defying Gravity” by Roger Emerson. After 3 stunning back to back performances, the students headed to Central Park to explore, where they would visit Strawberry Fields (an area of the park dedicated to John Lennon after his death) and perform under an arch in the middle of the park for all to see. The students would end the night with dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where they would sing their hearts out with the future Broadway performers/waiters and waitresses.
The final day of the trip, the student’s kicked off the day having breakfast at the Hard Rock Cafe for the competition awards, in which Lake Shore choirs swept it clean. Winning first place in show, chamber, and concert choirs would have been outstanding on it’s own, but on top of that, Lake Shore won Best Overall Choir and the Espirit De Corps award (which by definition on merriam-webster.com, refers to “feelings of loyalty, enthusiasm, and devotion to a group among people who are members of the group.”). After a few tears and a group hug with their beloved director, Matthew M. Smith, the students headed out to a tour of Radio City Music Hall, in which they would meet a real rockette, and even see under the famous stage. After that tour, the students would embark the bus to enjoy a two hour journey through New York City, where they would really get a sense of the city. Afterwards, dinner would be had at Planet Hollywood, followed by a Broadway showing of Aladdin, which left the students stunned at the theatrical masterpiece.
Following the show, they student would board the bus once again to make their way home.