NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – After months of practicing, waiting and excitement, a group of talented New Rochelle music students are set to take the stage at Carnegie Hall for a special concert at one of New York’s most famed venues.
Hosted by the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence, “On Stage at Carnegie Hall” allows some of the district’s finest music students the opportunity to perform at a location many musicians have only dreamed of playing.
The concert will feature performances by several New Rochelle musical groups, with guest performer Derek Bermel, a 1985 graduate. Alumni Michael M. Kaiser, the chairman of DeVos Institute of Arts Management and former president of the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will act as the master of ceremonies.
In an effort to drum up local interest, as they seek to sell out Carnegie Hall, the students have been hard at work throughout the city, performing pop-up concerts, including one during rush hour last month at the train station as commuters were on their way to work.
According to Melissa Panszi-Riebe, who is one of the volunteers helping to put on the show, New Rochelle musicians take the trip to Manhattan once every four years, to ensure that every student to go through the school district has a chance to play in front of their friends and family at Carnegie hall.
The performances have helped grow the music program, as elementary students see their peers on stage and strive to do the same years later.
“The idea is to make sure that at some point during their high school careers, they get the chance to play at Carnegie Hall or the Lincoln Center, some of New York’s finest,” she said. “Some very famous musicians have never been on Carnegie Hall; even if our students don’t pursue music going forward, they can always say they did that during their career.”
“Some students say they get nervous, but that’s just because of the name. These kids are so talented, that if you closed your eyes and sat in the audience, you couldn’t tell that you were listening to high school kids.”
Panszi-Riebe noted that the Carnegie Hall concert serves as a showcase of New Rochelle, the students’ talents and the school district.
“It’s truly a celebration of the best of New Rochelle, and the kids can feel that. There’s a certain pride to it. Cities often rally around sports, but you don’t need a kid playing basketball to support the community,” she said. “We’re expecting a packed house to see these supremely talented kids.”
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