HATTIESBURG -- Sixty students and faculty from
the University of Southern Mississippi have been invited to
stay six days in New York, where they will sing at Carnegie
Hall in a charity concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The trip comes courtesy of the 1st Reformed Church of Bronxville,
which worked with the concert’s producers to orchestrate the
Southern Chorale’s performance.
Proceeds from the benefit, scheduled for Nov. 25, will go
to the Red Cross and to the Hattiesburg community.
“It’s very rewarding to get the opportunity to provide some
relief for people right here in our own backyards that were
devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” said Dr. Greg Fuller, director
of the Southern Chorale. We have members from New Orleans and
the Gulf Coast that were all affected by the storm. This trip
will be especially meaningful to the whole group.”
The concert finale will feature a performance of the Schubert
“Mass in G” with choral ensembles from the New York area. The
Metropolitan Youth Orchestra will accompany the performance
under the direction of Paul Oakley. In addition to closing the
show with about 300 other performers, the Southern Chorale will
open the second half of the concert in a solo spot, with Fuller
While the group’s reputation paved the way for its invite,
Fuller said the concert’s producers also considered the university’s
proximity to the area affected by the storm.
“There continues to be displaced and homeless people, whole
arts communities that are shut down due to rehearsal facilities
being destroyed and instruments being damaged,” said Sean Berg,
director of operations for Manhattan Concert Productions, the
company putting together the charity event. “The very souls
of these communities have been heavily impacted. It is our hope
at Manhattan Concert Productions to help in a way that begins
to restore a sense of normalcy and support that is severely
Carnegie Hall, built in 1890 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie,
remains one of the premier concert halls in the United States.
“Not many people get invited to play there and have their way
paid to do it,” Fuller said.
Andy Jensen, a doctoral student in choral music, said he doesn’t
think the group will get nervous performing at the hallowed
hall in New York, but there is an added sense of expectation.
“When you’re performing at Carnegie Hall, you must be your very
best,” said Jensen, of Bloomington, Ill.
Last year, the Southern Chorale performed at one of the nation’s
newest venues, the Disney Concert Hall, built for the Los Angeles
Philharmonic Orchestra. “It’s like the Carnegie Hall of the
West Coast. Between our performing on the two coasts, it’s been
a very good 10 months for this group,” Fuller said.
Most of the upcoming trip will be spent in the city, where
the group will take in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That
evening, the entire group will take a train ride north to share
a Thanksgiving meal with their benefactors at the 1st Reformed
Church of Bronxville. On Saturday, Nov. 28, the Southern Chorale
will stay in the homes of its members as guests and then finish
the trip with a Sunday performance at the church.
“This is a great gift to our group and a tremendous honor
for us to be able to perform in New York City for the benefit
of Katrina victims,” said Michelle Chapman, a master’s student
in music from Carrollton, Texas. “There will be so many other
exceptional groups there performing. It will be nice to help
people who need it in the process.”
For more information, call (601) 266-4497 or visit the Web
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