Carnegie Hall is going to see a lot of talented performers from the Fargo-Moorhead community this summer.
Last week, The Forum reported on Joanna Lin, a Davies High School clarinetist performing at the legendary New York City concert hall with the National Youth Orchestra in July. But a local arts organization was also invited to perform at Carnegie Hall later this month: the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir.
On Saturday, June 1, more than 20 singers in the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir will join the New England Symphonic Ensemble, two soloists and seven choirs from California and New Jersey to perform “Mass of the Children” by John Rutter.
Dr. Bruce Southard, Director of Choral Activities at San Joaquin Delta College and Artistic Director of the Stockton Chorale in Stockton, Calif., conducts the piece through MidAmerica Productions, the foremost independent producer of choral concerts at the venue. Southard invited six of the choirs participating in the piece.
Because he went to graduate school at North Dakota State University with Diamond Choir Director Charlotte Moe, he included the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir in his list of choirs he knew “would do an outstanding job preparing their singers for the performance,” he says.
Founded in 2014, the choir provides meaningful choral opportunities and music education for young people in kindergarten through the 12th grade throughout the community. The organization has grown steadily over the years and recently expanded from three to four choirs due to increased population growth in the area.
The four choirs — Emerald, Garnet, Ruby and Diamond — are currently sorted by age group and are open to anyone, says Artistic Director Joshua Dahl.
“We will never turn kids away,” says Dahl, who directs fourth, fifth and sixth graders in the Ruby Choir. “We have a common belief among the directors that our job is to teach kids to sing and enrich their lives through singing.”
When the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir accepted Southard’s invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall, Dahl and other organizational staff worked with the kids who signed up to raise money for travel costs and learn Rutter’s challenging piece.
“The music the kids are singing is not a basic, straightforward melody like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’” Dahl says. “There are a lot of accidentals, modulations, different keys and different ranges.”
But the choir always embraces opportunities to challenge its students, Dahl says, and he is proud of their hard work over the past few months at Sunday night rehearsals.
“These kids have been amazing,” he adds. “They’re ready.”
The Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir leaves for New York City on May 29. In addition to practicing in the days before the performance, the group will also attend “Aladdin” on Broadway, tour the Statue of Liberty and visit the American Museum of Natural History to provide a well-rounded cultural experience for the kids.
These extra perks certainly swayed Bennett Elementary fifth grader Asher Lange to join the choir this year, but visiting New York was only a small part of his decision.
“I actually do like choir a lot,” says Lange, who has Dahl as his Ruby Choir director and as his music teacher at Fargo’s Bennett Elementary. “I thought it would be fun to do it outside of school, too, instead of just the school choir.”
Lange is also excited to sing at Carnegie Hall.
“I like the song and I think it’s going to be cool to perform on that big of a stage in front of that many people,” he says.
Dahl says providing this experience through the youth choir will show the singers “what they are capable of.”
“There aren’t a lot of activities where you can have 500 people on one stage contributing toward one common goal,” he says. “I’m excited to see how kids open up in this situation (and) for them to see they are part of something. I know this is something they will hold dear to them for their entire lives.”
For more information on the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir, visit www.fmyouthchoir.org.
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, May 20, 2019.