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Carnegie Hall invites James Clemens Choir to perform

MADISON – James Clemens High School Choir has received an invitation that most musicians only dream of reaching.

Carnegie Hall, the nation’s most historic and prestigious concert hall, has invited the Madison vocalists to perform on March 19, 2019.

“Carnegie Hall is one of the world’s most sought after music venues,” Choir Director Harris Gessner said. The choir will travel with Choirs of America Nationals for Top Choirs.

In 2012 when the school opened, James Clemens Choir formed with 25 members. Since Gessner started as director in 2015, the choir has grown to 100-plus members.

James Clemens offers three ensembles: Mixed Choir, original, coed choir and the largest; Women’s Choir, non-auditioned; and Chamber Choir, highly selective ensemble with 16 boys and girls.

In its brief existence, the choir has amassed numerous honors:

* Multiple Heritage Festival competitions.
* Alabama Music Educator’s Convention’s performance, including “A Prayer of the Middle Ages,” Howard Hanson; “Three Latin Motets,” C.V. Stanford; and “Stars Fell on Alabama, original composition, arranger Joel Thompson (youtube.com/watch?v=zzsanD3Y8aw).
* District Outstanding Choral Student, Matthew Bao, 2017-2018.
* Expanding number of students in All-State Choir.
* Atlanta Heritage Music Festival — Concert Choir, first place; Women’s Choir, first place; Adjudicator’s Award; Sweepstakes Trophy; Outstanding Soloist, freshman Jayla Curtis.

NYC costs per student will be about $2,000. “We hope to cover most student expenses with fundraising,” Gessner said.

Gessner asks Madison residents to connect with the choir on social media and “help spread the word about the hard work our students are doing. The best way for people to get involved with our fundraising is to follow our social media.”

“Thank you to the community for supporting JC Choir and arts programs in Madison. We have incredibly dedicated and hardworking students who are discovering a passion that will serve them long after their classroom days,” Gessner said.

Terri Lovett, Vice President with Jet Choir Executive Booster Board, said visiting Carnegie Hall will be “a once-in-a-life trip for many students.” They will sing in a mass choir, independently as Jet Choir and sightsee, take a dinner cruise and see a Broadway play.

“These students’ talent is absolutely amazing,” Lovett said. “At the Alabama Music Educators Association, they received a thunderous standing ovation. The students were overwhelmed.”

“We’re extremely blessed to have Harris Gessner as director. Students respond well to his instruction and leading. Since he was hired, membership and expertise has increased exponentially,” Lovett said.

Performing at Carnegie Hall will be “quite an expensive trip,” Lovett said. “We need all the help we can get in our fundraising efforts.”

A dinner theatre/silent auction on Oct. 9 at James Clemens will include a catered meal and singing servers. To donate to the silent auction, email jetchoir@gmail.com.

For information, visit Facebook/James Clemens Jet Choir, Twitter @JCHS_Choir, Intstagram Jet Choir or YouTube (youtube.com/channel/UCPwbXRHpEN4UePN43PvSPZA).

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