Concert Before Carnegie

MARCH 8, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:00pm

JONESBORO, AR - For most young singers, performing at the Fowler Center would be an unbelievable opportunity.

"It's so amazing," said Elizabeth Schug, a junior at Brookland High School. "I love standing up there with everyone; hearing all of the different voices blend and everything."

Some of the greatest voices and musicians in the world have taken another stage. Now a group from Arkansas State University will join the chosen few who have harmonized in Carnegie Hall.

"When I first found out I was ecstatic. I was excited," explained Matthew Vardell, an ASU freshman studying voice. "I couldn't think of anything else better that I wanted to do. All of the performers that you see and hear about have performed at Carnegie Hall."

A connection ASU's Doctor Dale Miller, Director of Choral Activities, made about 15 years ago when he was at a junior college in Texas helped get ASU in the door this year. For many of the artists making the trip, it will be a performance of a lifetime.

Schug added, "I was so excited. I mean, how many people can say that they've, you know, got that opportunity to go to Carnegie Hall and I'm still in high school, so I just think that's amazing."

Miller will be conducting a group of about 200 singers from northeast Arkansas, southeast Missouri and New Jersey.

"So it'll be an interesting blend of accents at least as we speak," Miller chuckled. "Hopefully, we'll make all our accents sound the same when we sing."

This will the third time he's conducted at Carnegie Hall, but the first time the New England Symphonic Ensemble will be under his direction.

"We have the opportunity to perform with some of the best musicians in the world," added Miller.

This is the second time a group from ASU will perform inside the great hall.

Doctor Miller admitted, "It's an experience our students never forget."

Most of these artists have never visited Carnegie Hall. Their ultimate wish is for an encore, before their life's last curtain call.

"This is definitely an experience to remember, and I hope to go back again soon," Vardell said.

The singers will leave Jonesboro on Thursday, March 18th. They'll rehearse the 19th and 20th, and perform on the 21st. Doctor Miller and other members of ASU men's music fraternity will sing the national anthem at a New York Islanders hockey game on the 19th.