The Garner Magnet High School Die Meistersingers Choral Ensemble had the experience of a lifetime last week when they showed off their musical skills, performing at a prestigious musical festival in Washington, D.C.
GMHS Choral Director Meredith Clayton said 41 students, who participate in the Garner Magnet High School Die Meistersingers, had the opportunity to participate in the National President’s Day Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. The ensemble visited the nation’s Capital from Feb. 18 to 21.
The ensemble performed with five other choirs from across the country. An audience of approximately 2,000 people watched the group sing the John Rutter “Gloria,” and several other masterpieces under the direction of Dr. Andre J. Thomas, a world renowned conductor.
Clayton said the trip is one her students and she will never forget.
“Our experience at the Kennedy Center was life changing,” Clayton said. “Singing in one of the greatest concert halls in our nation is an opportunity I know my students won’t soon forget. They had the incredible chance to work under the direction of Dr. Andre Thomas, director of Choral Activities from Florida State University, and they absolutely loved him. They have been working to master the very difficult repertoire he selected since October. I am so proud of each of the students for their hard work, dedication and passion for the art of choral music.”
However, the trip was not all work.
“We toured the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln, Vietnam and World War II Memorials along with many other memorials,” Clayton said. “We toured the U.S. Capitol Building and saw the Washington Monument. We participated in a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington Cemetery. We toured the Smithsonian museum of American History, and took a dinner cruise on the Potomac River. When they weren’t sight-seeing, they were in rehearsals six hours a day at their hotel and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.”
They also had a special visitor on their trip. Scotty McCreery, “American Idol” winner and country music super star, also joined the ensemble on their trip.
“It was also wonderful to have him be able to join us on our four-day trip,” Clayton said. “We appreciate him making Die Meistersingers a priority in his busy schedule.”
Clayton said the musical experiences the students had were the best part of the entire experience.
“I think the students will agree, the best part of this trip was the musical experiences that they gained, and performing at the Kennedy Center,” Clayton said. “Although, the dinner cruise is a close second. They have really bonded as a family, and building those relationships with each other is just as important as the music.”