Every other year, members of the Weston High Chorus travel by bus to New York City for a portion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. long weekend. This year, chorus director Dr. Thérèse Provenzano, planned an ambitious itinerary which enabled her students to have many memorable experiences.
Students, chaperones and staff met early Saturday morning at the High School for the trip to the Big Apple. The first stop upon arrival in Manhattan was Riverside Church, a cathedral like structure that is the tallest church in the United States. Standing in front of the altar, the chorus performed several pieces and their voices, quite literally, filled the church. At the end of the performance, members of the concert choir separated to perform one of their songs – girls sang from one side of the pews and boys sang from the other. It was a dramatic and effective conclusion to a very powerful concert.
Riverside Church, located in Morningside Heights, is diagonally across from Grant’s Tomb. Before boarding the bus to their next destination, the entire group crossed the street to be photographed on the steps of this majestic memorial.
Later in the day, the group stopped at the famed Apollo Theater. According to its website, this “legendary venue has launched the careers of icons such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown and Lauryn Hill and continues to maintain its position as the nation’s most popular arena for emerging and established African-American and Latino performers.” After hearing the storied history of the theater from our host Billy Mitchell (aka “Mr.Apollo”), 9 groups were invited to perform briefly from this famous stage.
After several impressive performances, and one prom invitation, the entire chorus got on stage to sing the national anthem.
The students then had the choice to have dinner in either Little Italy or Chinatown before reconvening at the buses to be transported to Rockefeller Center for a nighttime tour of the Top of the Rock. There they saw spectacular sights of the city on a crystal clear (albeit freezing cold)night.
The next day started off with a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the morning followed by a return to Rockefeller Center in the afternoon. For the evening meal the students experienced dinner/theater at the macabre themed Jekyll and Hyde restaurant. This preceded a trip to a more traditional Broadway experience – the musical Matilda for some students,Avenue Q for others.
Those who chose Matilda got an unexpected treat. Thomas Caruso, a Weston High School alum, is the Associate Director for this production. He arranged for the students to come to the front rows of the orchestra seats for a Q&A session with him and two of the stars. Having watched the show from the balcony, the students were in awe of seeing the set and the 3 accomplished professionals up close. They used their time well to ask avariety of thoughtful questions.
The final day of the journey started with a trip to the United Nations. The students marveled at the fact that, when they were on site, they were no longer on American soil. They learned about the goals of the organization and toured many of the famous meeting rooms.
The final destination before returning to Weston was a trip to Ground Zero. There the students toured the 2 huge memorials designed to honor the memory of the people who perished during the horrific 9-11 terrorism attacks. After learning about the rationale for why the memorials were constructed the way they were, the students walked to the nearby St. Paul’s Chapel. This small church not only withstood the attacks, it served as a triage area during the immediate aftermath of them. The students performed more songs at this venue and their voices served to entice passersby to come in and listen to their concert. It was another moving and powerful experience.After this performance, everyone boarded the buses for the return trip home happy to have experienced a very action packed and rewarding weekend.