OWINGS, Md.—Members of the Jesus the Good Shepherd Church choir in Owings, Md. are thrilled to be realizing a lifelong dream to sing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on March 27, 2022. The Covenant Community of Jesus the Good Shepherd, a Roman Catholic church located in northern Calvert County, will send 11 members of its choir to perform in a concert produced by Distinguished Concerts International of New York (DCINY). Choirs from all over North America—ranging in style from civic to philharmonic—were invited to perform. Jesus the Good Shepherd is the only local choir to Maryland and the only one in The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington slated to sing in the concert.
“Carnegie Hall is one of the most prestigious venues in the world, for both classical and popular music. To be able to step on a stage with such history will be exciting, magical and a privilege,” says Sue Hardesty who has been a member of the choir for over 10 years.
The Jesus the Good Shepherd choir will sing the Faure Requiem under the direction of Guest Conductor Erin Freeman who is in residence at Virginia Commonwealth University and part of the Richmond Philharmonic Symphony and Chorus.
The Faure Requiem is extra special to members of the Jesus the Good Shepherd choir who sing it almost every November for the church’s annual All Souls Day Mass of Remembrance for fellow church members who died in the past year. To be able to sing it at Carnegie Hall and with a 100-voiced choir is even more special for the singers who have only been able to do minimal singing since the start of the Pandemic two years ago.
“One of the important lessons from the pandemic is how important our own lived experiences are,” says music director Katie Evans of Jesus the Good Shepherd. “To not be able to travel over the last two years has been tough, but to not be able to sing was even worse. The choir members realize we cannot get back these lived experiences and we value them so much more as performers.”
Evans had submitted a recording of the choir to DCINY back in 2020. The group was invited to the 2021 Carnegie Hall performance, which unfortunately was canceled amid continuing COVID-19 restrictions. This will be the first large choral work that DCINY has produced at Carnegie Hall in over two years.
The event has not come without any bumps, especially concerning all the COVID protocols still in place.
Since Carnegie Hall is a “vaccinated venue only,” all performers had to provide proof of vaccination including booster shots based on CDC guidelines and age of each performer. Carnegie Hall additionally requires all audience members to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination. The venue also utilizes time-stamped entry tickets to promote social distancing.
Luckily, the performers were told they do not have to wear a mask while on stage, but backstage and for rehearsals masks are still required.
“After all these hoops, it will still be worth it to say I have sung at Carnegie Hall!” said soprano Kathy Gray, a member of the Jesus the Good Shepherd choir who is a research nurse in Annapolis.
“The Catholic Church has always promoted the fine arts. Music, of course, is no exception. In today’s world, it is vital for the Church more than ever to promote classical, choral pieces which are, in fact, timeless,” says Michael J. King, Pastor at Jesus the Good Shepherd. “As a pastor, I have always loved church music since I was a child. Today, I am indeed proud that members of my parish choir have undertaken such an ambitious goal as to actively participate in this musical experience at Carnegie Hall. I am so happy for them. It truly will be a memory for a lifetime!”
The concert is March 27 at 2:00 p.m. in the main Stern Auditorium and Perlman Stage of Carnegie Hall. Tickets can be found here.