By Libby Cluett
NEW YORK – Members of the Ram choir ventured to New York City for an extended weekend tour of the Big Apple and presented two public performances.
Their performance at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, made visitors take notice.
“We performed at St. John and people were stopping and asking, ‘Where is Mineral Wells?’ These kids are so good!,” reported Mineral Wells High School Choir Director Mac Chestnut.
Conducted by Chestnut and Abigail Weaver, the students sang the following at the NYC Ferry Terminal, Sunday, and the cathedral on Monday:
• “Let us sing, Jubilate Deo!” By Greg Gilpin.
• “Oh Shenandoah,” by Ruth Elaine Schram.
• “Joyfully sing,” by Linda Steen Spevacek.
• “I will arise,” arranged by Robert Parker and Alice Shaw.
• “Northern lights,” by Ola Gjielo.
• “Climbin up the mountain,” by William Henry Smith.
They flew out Friday and returned early this morning, but, between performances, took in the city’s cultural arts offerings.
“We saw performances of ‘Wicked’ and ‘Matilda,’” Chestnut told the Index. “Kids laughed, cried and were amazed at the experience.”
“So many generous people in Mineral Wells donated in excess of $12,000 to sponsor kids in this trip; many of whom have never flown, much less been farther than Dallas,” he added.
“To see their faces, to witness and experience this is lifetime experience – when people start to say something about schools in Mineral Wells, they need to stop and see that this is not the Mineral Wells of 20 years ago. We are the district academic champions, third-time district one-act play winners, playoffs in every sport and our choir has performed all over the world,” he noted.
In 2010, the First United Methodist Church of Mineral Wells and MWHS choirs performed four concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, China, including performances at the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City Performance Hall, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center and the World Expo. In 2011, the Ram Choir performed on the deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid and in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Chestnut advises, “Look past the fable of mediocrity and realize MWISD is changing the lives and the futures of our children.”
“Getting to see these kids, whom I began teaching in the seventh grade, perform with poise and confidence in our nation’s most vibrant city, brings validity and meaning to the many years of practice that led to this experience,” said Weaver.
MWISD school board member Maria Jones joined the trip as a chaperone.
“I am so honored to have been a part of the MWHS trip to New York,” she said. “[The students] were a wonderful representation of our district and they performed with poise and grace. This is an experience they will never forget.”
According to Chestnut, even the bus driver for the group, named Ron, remarked, “Every kid from this group joy [brought] into my life. Some when they arrived and some when they left.”