By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Last March Millington Central High School Choir Director and Conductor Jeff Murdock started the path toward a dream for his program and students.
Processing an audition to apply for the 13th Annual New York Choral Festival at Carnegie Hall, the voices that echoed through Murdock’s classroom were one of two choirs from the United States accepted.
“I was thinking, ‘This is great, we’ll be going to New York to sing in Carnige Hall,’” MCHS senior Cazzie Foster recalled. “But then once I let my grandparents know about it, I realize even more that this is a big deal. I was even more excited to go.”
For more than a century, Carnegie Hall has been the place where distinctive artists of all stripes like Liza Minnelli and Paul Robeson, have come to make their names in New York City. Now the students who compose the Millington Choir need the community’s help to be the next to take the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall.
Since being accepted last Spring, Murdock and his students have been working hard to raise the $65,000. Murdock will take 25 students scheduled to leave March 29 and return April 3.
Before the Millington Chorale takes the stage at Carnegie Hall April 2, the students will tour historic sites in New York City like Juillard, the Met Opera and the Manhattan School of Music.
Once you add up trip fair, supply expenses and performance fees, the program needs $65,050. Murdock and his students need $15,000 by Feb. 15 to meet the next deadline.
“It’s a long process,” senior Shelby Swift said. “There’s a lot of fund raising involved and broadcasting to get us out there to even let people know that we’re going. We have a few businesses here in Millington who have been willing to donate.
“Students have been indepently doing a lot with churches and small organizations we’ve been involved in,” she added. “Especially with the Rotary Club, we’ve done a lot with them and they’ve donated a lot as well.”
The Choir will be taking up donations until March 28. Students like Marrisa Hunt said the opportunity to go to New York City and experience the culture and meet choirs from around the world is a chance of a lifetime.
“It’s a really big deal for me since I’ve never really been out of the state at all,” she acknowledged. “The most I’ve gone to is Arkansas to visit my Dad. It’s a great honor and I’m very excited to know I’ll meet new people.”
Millington’s choir will do a performance exchange with another choir. Swift said with the hours of practice, the Millington Chorale is ready to represent the black and gold on one of the most famous stages in the world.
“We’re the only choir going from this area,” she concluded. “There are only two choirs going from America. The others come from the Czech Republic, Puerto Rico. We’re the only one in the Millington/Mid-South area who have an opportunity to get a chance to go. And we need a lot of help. That is a lot of money.”
To sponsor or donate to the Millington Chorale, contact MillingtonChorale@gmail.com or call 873-8100 ext. 233.