Waimea Community Chorus invited to perform at Carnegie Hall

KAILUA-KONA — The last time members of the Waimea Community Chorus found themselves together in New York, they were on stage at the Lincoln Center, performing with other singers from around the world.

The local group of musicians has found a way to top that.

Waimea Community Chorus was recently invited again by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) to perform in New York, this time at Carnegie Hall. The performance venue in Midtown Manhattan is considered to be one of the most prestigious music venues in the world.

“It was incredibly exciting to walk out onto the stage at Lincoln Center, even if I was one of 150 people, so I’m looking forward to stepping onto the stage at Carnegie Hall,” chorus director Barbara Kopra said.

Waimea Community Chorus will be one of seven groups from around the world — including the countries of Germany, France, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago — to perform June 9 at the Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, under the direction of Christopher Tin.

The groups will be performing Tin’s “Calling All Dawns,” a song cycle, or set of related songs that form one musical entity. “Calling All Dawns” is a set of 12 songs in 12 different languages.

Kopra was one of the 15 chorus members to take up the DCINY invitation in 2017 to perform at the Lincoln Center, where the chorus was a part of a performance of “Misa Criolla” by Ariel Ramirez. Kopra said after the concert, DCINY asked when the group would be ready to perform again.

She gave them the timeline of two years.

“We were very impressed with, not only the talent of the group, but their enthusiasm, and preparedness for such a high-profile concert,” DCINY program developer Jeff Binner said in an email. “We knew they would be a perfect fit for a piece as challenging as Christopher Tin’s ‘Calling All Dawns’, and we can’t wait to see them in a few short weeks.”

To Binner, the prestige of Carnegie Hall cannot be beat, especially to a local chorus group from Hawaii Island.

“The feeling you get when you realize you are performing on such an incredible stage is beyond words,” Binner said. “You’re in the same club as Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, Jay-Z, and more.”

While in New York, the members of Waimea Community Chorus who will be in attendance will also get to participate in workshops put on by DCINY before the concert. Rehearsals for the June 9 performance will take place over five days, for approximately nine to 10 hours day.

The members making the trip weren’t specifically chosen. They volunteered based on their ability, and desire, to make the long trek to New York.

Aopra said the performance will fall in line with Waimea Community Chorus’ focus on bringing a wide variety of music to the community.

“The trademark of our chorus is being open to all styles of music,” Kopra said. “So this is a chance for people who wanted to do different languages do a whole different style of music. You don’t expect the same thing from our group.”

By Elizabeth Pitts West Hawaii Today epitts@westhawaiitoday.com

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