Chieftain Singers NYC bound
The Chieftain Singers are headed east for a long weekend.
The Tonganoxie High School choir will perform Friday at the Heritage Musical Festival in New York City.
Joyce Steeby, director of choirs, and accompanist Carolyn Day will join 12 parent-chaperones and 19 students on the trip. Their flight to the Big Apple leaves Kansas City International Airport at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. They will return Sunday.
Steeby said the festival would give the singers valuable performance opportunities, but visiting a large city would also be an eye-opening event for the students.
"I want them to experience a bigger world than they're familiar with," Steeby said. "The world is accessible. They're not limited to what they know now."
The group of 16 will perform three pieces Friday morning in the Upper West Side's famous gothic-style Riverside Church. On Saturday night, the singers will return to the church for an awards ceremony, where they will receive a rating for their performance. The judges also will rank their performance against other schools at the festival.
Steeby took a group to the festival two years ago when it was held in Chicago.
The travelers also plan to visit several other well-known attractions, including Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building, Ellis Island and Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center. They will also attend "The Lion King" on Broadway and go on a dinner and dance cruise around Manhattan Island.
Steeby said the trip would provide the singers plenty of opportunities for impromptu performances. She is hopeful the singers will perform the national anthem at Ground Zero and a song on the stage at Carnegie Hall.
The Chieftain Singers and the school district are funding the singers' and teachers' trips. The district helped pay for airfare and chartered bus fees. The singers raised the remainder of the costs with fundraisers, including the annual Madrigal Feaste and sales of food and Sonic discount cards. Steeby estimated the cost for the singers at $700 each.
Three concert choir students from Tonganoxie High School will join the singers in New York City, but they will not perform. They, along with the 12 chaperones, will fund most of their their own expenses for the trip.
The travelers will charter buses to several locations to ensure they stay together and on schedule. Otherwise, they will use the subway.
Steeby said the challenges of navigating the city would encourage the students to work together, and more importantly, the trip would get the students outside of their comfort zones and help them grow.
"Every time we return, they return a more professional group than when we left," Steeby said. "I think they mature a bit."