Proud moment for Coleraine choir as they perform at New York’s world famous Carnegie Hall

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After months of rehearsals and several fundraising events - Coleraine Grammar Schoool’s Chamber Choir stepped onto the stage at New York’s Carnegie Hall on January 18.

Before the performance at the world famous venue, the choir, accompanied by two teachers, visited some of the sights of the Big Apple!

Ice skating at Central Park, a visit to the 9/11 memorial, a boat trip to Liberty Island and a Broadway show, was all part of the iternary for the talented Coleraine pupils.

The girls were invited to participate in the New York concert, following their high standard of performance in the final of the BBC Radio Ulster School Choir of the Year.

The choir were part of a huge choir, in the premiere performance of Karl Jenkins’ Songs of Sanctuary on the Distinguished Concerts International New York Concert Series.

Pupil Charlotte Galbraith told The Times: “We all felt incredibly proud to be representing Coleraine Grammar School in New York.

“We hear people say that school days are the best days of your life, and for our Chamber Choir we have every reason to believe it now!

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us with the mammoth task of fund-raising.

“For those pupils, parents and friends who supported our coffee morning, table-quiz, bought tickets to our concert , donated money at the ‘bag-packs’ or who bought more donuts than we can ever count, we thank you! This once in a lifetime experience would not have been possible without all your help and generosity, and I thank you sincerely for your part in making this dream a reality for our 19 talented girls and two wonderful teachers, Mr and Mrs McCreery. Thank you all so much!”

Speaking about the performance, Charlotte went on: “Two of our days included lengthy four-hour rehearsals for the Carnegie Hall performance.

“We met up with the full choir of 207 treble voices from America, Spain, Italy and England who would perform ‘Songs of Sanctuary’ with the famous composer Karl Jenkins in the audience.

“Our conductor, Dr Jonathan Griffith, was absolutely brilliant and soon got us singing through the nine songs from the album.

“We even met Sir Karl Jenkins in person and had photographs taken and autographs signed.

“After some more sightseeing, shopping, ice skating in Central Park and another Broadway musical - the day of the concert was finally here!

“We looked and felt very professional in our long black dresses on the Perelman Stage of the world famous Carnegie Hall.

“This was a better feeling than the -9˚C we experienced two hours earlier as we waited outside the backstage door!

“An invisible tear of pride was shed by many of the nineteen Coleraine girls as we looked down to see Sir Karl Jenkins sitting in the centre of the hall.

“We were all incredibly nervous, but excited, and ready to sing our hearts out and make him proud.

“The concert was a huge success.

“It was a very special moment after our performance when our Musical Director, Mr McCreery, was called to the stage with the other choral directors to receive applause from the large audience.

“After performances of ‘Te Deum’, ‘The Armed Man’ and an interview with Sir Karl we were whisked off to the after show party where we were made to feel like VIPS, socialising with all our new global ‘singing’ friends. It all happened so quickly,” told Charlotte.

Musical Director Mr Richard McCreery added: “ Mrs McCreery and I are very proud of the 19 girls from CGS.

“They were wonderful ambassadors for Coleraine in New York.

“They never complained despite long rehearsals and many long walks through the city.

“We had the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and talk with the greatest composer of our generation, Sir Karl Jenkins.

“To hear him talk about the music he wrote and then hear it performed to such a high standard was very surreal. To see the girls on the stage in Carnegie Hall was a very special moment. We have an open invitation to return any time we want - so who knows what the future holds!”