Members of the York Comprehensive High School chorus program kicked off spring break with a four-day trip to New York City that included visits to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and two Broadway shows.
“It was very much a bonding experience, between all of us in the choir,” said Bridget Tallent, a 17-year-old senior. “It really gave me a perspective of where I could go with music.”
Tallent, who plans to study vocal performance at Winthrop University in the fall, said she was struck by the Broadway shows, “Aladdin” and “Phantom of the Opera.”
“It was probably the best experience I’ve ever had as far as music is concerned,” she said.
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Music is a life goal, she said, and the trip unearthed an interest in performing. “It’s everything, it’s my heart and soul. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Choir director Phil Suggs said 40 students and 15 adults went on the trip, organized through Stamm Travel in Rock Hill.
The group left Wednesday evening and returned Sunday night. The YCHS band also traveled to New York City, but the groups were on separate tours.
Suggs said the choir gave impromptu performance at several sites, including on the front steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and at Lincoln Center and Ellis Island. It also visited Radio City Music Hall.
“We had large crowds gather wherever we sang,” Suggs said. “Any time we go on a trip like this, we’ll just kind of stop somewhere and perform. Folks really loved it.”
Suggs said the choir sings the national anthem “and other things that are in our repertoire at the time. The kids really love getting the feedback from folks that have never heard us before.”
Suggs said the choir visited Washington, D.C., last year on spring break, and performed at some sites there, but has never before visited New York.
He said the trip cost for students was about $650, and participants had an opportunity to raise money with choral fundraisers.
Most of the students had never been to New York, he said.
Jasmine McCoy, a 17-year-old junior, said the trip was “surreal.”
“I’ve never experienced that before,” she said.
She enjoyed visits to sites that included the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square and Chinatown. “Times Square was my favorite part, because there are so many lights and buildings,” she said.
McCoy said she would like to attend a performing arts school and study music. She said “Aladdin” was her favorite Broadway show “because it was fun, uplifting and whimsical.”
Thomas Shirley, a 16-year-old junior, said the Broadway shows were “totally different than what I expected them to be.” The actors, he said, “were very passionate.”
The group also saw the city from the top of the Empire State Building, he said, and climbed up inside the Statue of Liberty to the lower pedestal area.
Jeremy Falls, an 18-year-old senior, said the trip “was truly an amazing experience. I great opportunity to see a place that’s often seen on television.”
Suggs said the trip “was just kind of the culmination of the great year we’ve had. It’s just kind of the pinnacle of a terrific year.”
The choir won five out of six available awards for its AAAA division in the annual S.C. Choral Festival, sponsored by the S.C. Music Educators Association. The awards included two for stage performance and all three awards in sight reading, he said.