Two Culver Academies choral students were selected to be part of the High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 9. Hayne Bae ’15 (Seoul, South Korea) and Jorge Sugich ’14 (Hermosillo, Mexico) were part of the Honors Choir that performed with the Honors Instrumental Ensembles in a special performance.
To be selected, students are nominated and then asked to submit applications and audition CDs in September. The national panel of judges then evaluates students from across the United States, Canada, and selected international schools.
Once selected, students must begin to learn the pieces they will sing during their Carnegie performance. Bae and Sugich spent Feb. 6-9 in New York City rehearsing under the direction of guest director Lynne Gackle from Baylor University, touring New York, and going to a Broadway musical. The performance was conducted the evening of Feb. 9.
After Bae and Sugich returned, Bae answered a few questions about their experiences.
How was singing in Carnegie Hall?
Simply put, it was amazing. When I entered Carnegie Hall, I was at once stunned by the elegant beauty of the stage, and was once more astounded by the mind-blowing acoustics. I could be standing at the far back corner of Carnegie Hall and hear the people on the stage talking in a normal volume. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I would be going up on the stage with hundreds of some of the best voices in the U.S. I had to pinch myself to check if it was a dream or not! I dreamed of singing there ever since I was young, and it was truly a moment when my dream came true. I wonder if I ever will be able to come back and sing a solo in Carnegie Hall.
What Broadway show did you see? How was it?
I had three choices: Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and After Midnight. I chose Phantom of the Opera without any hesitation even though everyone told me to watch Wicked. This was not only because I love classical singing more than I love the musical theatre style of singing, but also because I had a vivid memory of singing Think of Me (a song from Phantom) on a stage a few years ago. Anyway, the show was awesome. I had a seat very close to the stage, and it gave me chills to watch the actors and actresses sing with so much expression – they were literally “soaked up” the character they were playing in the show.
What other experiences did you enjoy?
Making friends! Every once in a while, it is nice to get outside the Culver bubble and meet some new people from all around the world. I did not get a chance to meet that many people in the All-State Honors Choir I participated in few weeks ago; but this time in New York, I became close with several people. Some of the friends I made there were from Canada, Oklahoma, Missouri, California, Iran, China, Ohio, Texas, etc.
It was fun to hear about their passion for music. Everyone I got to talk to told me that they are pursuing music in some form in college (and in the future). They were talking about auditioning for the Julliard School like it was no big deal, which was quite funny but remarkable at the same time.
Did you pick up any valuable tips or information that you can use personally?
I definitely grew as a singer through all the rehearsals we had. I learned some new “warm up exercises” I could use before I sing, and my sight reading skills got significantly better.
Frankly, I had several self-doubting moments when I was there. When the conductor asked for the sopranos who were interested in singing the solo line, every single girl in the section simultaneously stood up. We sang the line one by one, and wow, they were all good. Everyone’s voice was unique and … splendid, for the lack of a better word. I thought to myself, “How did I even get in?” I did not get to hear the alto, tenor and bass sections individually, but I have no doubt that they are all great singers.
The valuable lesson I learned from this is that I have to believe in myself. By the time 20 sopranos sang the same line, and it was my turn to sing, I was so nervous, not to mention discouraged by the 20 good voices I had just heard. I never really get nervous on stage, but this time, my voice was slightly shaking and I did not sing as well as I could have. I think it’s all about how you think about it – maybe I could have gotten the solo if I was not in that “lack-of-self-confidence-mode,” maybe not. I realized that I need to just believe in myself and show my full potential in whatever situation I am facing.
The students’ expenses were partially subsidized by Culvers’ Artistic Fund, established by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gignilliat ’49.