By Joshua Herring

Eighteen members of the KU Choral Music Program journeyed to New York City to perform Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers” on Monday, April 13. Director of Choral Activities Dr. Hank Alviani spent weeks preparing the students for the nationally anticipated concert at Carnegie Hall.

Manhattan Concert Productions hosted the show. Students from KU and other colleges performed along side each other and the Masterwords Festival Chorus.

KU student performer Matt Murphy said, “It was very inspirational to be on a stage that had so much history with artists and musicians.”

160 other choral students from five states throughout the country joined the KU singers in the historic Manhattan concert venue. Professor Richard Bjella from Texas Tech University was the event’s featured guest conductor. He is internationally praised, previously conducting in London, Prague, Lucerne, Paris, Vilnius and Seoul.

“Learning from a new and esteemed conductor, as well as my KU colleagues, coupled with the general experience of performing at Carnegie Hall can only be described as surreal and incomparable,” said KU choral student Brandyn Black.

This is the first time Alviani has taken KU students to perform in New York City but, while he was director of Choral and Vocal Music Studies at Clarion University, he took students to the Big Apple six times since 2009. This is the fourth time he’s traveled to Carnegie Hall with student vocalists. Two former Clarion students, now graduated, and a former junior high school student from the early 1980s also joined the group, according to Alviani.

“The KU choral group rehearsed for 11 hours in New York over three days to prepare for Monday’s performance,” Alviani said.

According to him, the concert featured outstanding soloists from all over the country. It included the 23-piece professional New York City Chamber Orchestra and was performed in front of “a full Carnegie Hall audience.”

“This was a dream come true,” described KU singer Sara Ulrich. “The experience challenged me vocally, and to be able to perform in Carnegie with such amazing and talented musicians made me feel like I can accomplish anything.”

According to Alviani, there is  already a discussion about making arrangements to participate in another event next year.

Lauren Sobczak, another KU performer said, “I would recommend this opportunity to any willing participant in the future and wish them the same incredible experience that was afforded to me.”

Anyone interested in participating in the KU Choral Program for the fall 2015 semester should contact Alviani at or at 610-683-4553.

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