Taking ‘Center Stage’

FORTVILLE –Mt. Vernon High School Junior Erica Lohman has been in choir since fourth grade, dances ballet and performs in musicals at school and elsewhere.

She calls herself a natural performer, admitting she loves to be the center of attention. When on stage, she forgets everything else and just lives in the moment, she said.

That ability will be rewarded come June when she and 23 other members of her high school choir, Center Stage, perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the pinnacle of a three-day visit.

Carnegie Hall opened in 1891 and has played host to many of the world’s musical greats — George Gershwin, Benny Goodman and The Beatles, just to name a few.

Mt. Vernon students are excited to add their names to the list of those who have graced the famous stage.

“Most of the students know the prestige that it holds,” third-year Mt. Vernon choir director Leigh Anderson said.

The group — one of three curricular choirs at the school — was selected to perform as part of a mass choir during a show at the hall June 13 after sending a recording of its music to Manhattan Concert Productions.

Now, Center Stage members are working to master the six songs they will perform. The group normally practices every day school is in session, but extra rehearsals begin this month.

Lohman said she’s looking forward to performing and touring the city partly because of the company she’ll be keeping.

“Our choir, it’s a family; and it’s going to be so much fun to experience this with all of them.”

Anderson said the Mt. Vernon choir has not been on a performance trip in the past six years and probably has never been on a trip “of this extent.”

She said she pursued the trip this year because of the composition of the choir.

“I have many students who are juniors and seniors who are interested in performing after high school,” she said. “I chose this year partly because of those students, to give them something they might not be able to do otherwise.”

The experience might induce a feeling of deja vu for at least one student, however.

Ryan Dockery, a senior member of Center Stage, performed at the hall in March with the Indianapolis Youth Choir, and he’s looking forward to a return trip with his classmates.

He described performing at Carnegie Hall an intense experience.

“I’m so glad for Center Stage to go through that process; that’s such an exciting step for a choir to take, … growing musically and bonding as friends.”

The trip itinerary also includes a Broadway show, visits to Radio City Music Hall, another legendary concert hall, and Top of the Rock, the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Center.

The total cost of the trip is $1,679 per person, including lodging, food, tickets and transportation. The group will spend the next few months fundraising.

Lohman said she’s thankful for the opportunity to go to New York City for the first time because — like the students Anderson said motivated her to put the trip together this year — she want to follow the arts after high school and perform as a living someday.

She plans to study ballet in college.

“I definitely want to be on stage; that’s my goal.”

At a glance

Students in Mt. Vernon High School’s Center Stage choir, which will perform at Carnegie Hall in June:

Tatum Barton

Austin Brake

Avery Bray

Katie Cook

Ryan Dockery

Alyjah Duff

Brooke Ford

Ashley Fritz

Rylie Gendron

Kourtney Hancock

Matt Hays

Austin Jones

Colton Jones

Felicity Kratky

Erica Lohman

Lauren Matson

Skylar Mayes

Jacob Owens

Justin Reich

Aaron Rush

Samantha Russell

Katelyn Schuck

Chelsea Theobald

Luke Timberlake

Braydon Titley

Elijah Williams

Song selections

Center Stage members will perform the following selections as part of a mass choir at Carnegie Hall:

“Wake Up, My Spirit” by Adolphus Hailstork

“How Lovely are the Messengers” by Felix Mendelssohn

“Pergolesi Suite” by Giovanni Pergolesi

“We Are” by Craig Hella Johnson

“Dubula” arranged by Stephen Hatfield

“Let Everything That Hath Breath” by Jeffrey Ames

Show your support

Mt. Vernon High School choir Center Stage is currently fundraising for its trip to perform at Carnegie Hall. Show your support via the choir’s gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/kveu3uu4.

Scott Slade is community editor. He can be reached at 317-477-3229 or sslade@ptlpnews.com.