BA Band Plays Concert Of A Lifetime At Carnegie Hall

Thursday, May 1st 2014, 11:26 pm
By: News On 6

Musicians know there is no greater stage than Carnegie Hall, and everyone knows it takes a lot of practice to get there, but a group of Broken Arrow students can now add the world's most famous stage to their resumes.

There's a sound to New York City, and a heartbeat. It's the cultural capital of America, and proving ground for untold thousands of hopeful young artists, actors and musicians.

Joining those ranks, are 172 kids from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. They did what no high school in our state has ever done; they staged their own standalone concert at Carnegie Hall.

The performance included kids from drama, choir, orchestra and band; many had never even been on an airplane, much less, to New York City.

Mark Frie is the executive director of Broken Arrow's fine arts program, and the driving force behind B.A.'s Carnegie Hall performance. For him, it's a dream two years in the making.

"If you think about what's happening, it's not normal," Frie said. "This is an experience that I will never forget, because, what it's really all about is giving kids an opportunity."

It's a long road from Broken Arrow to Carnegie Hall, and not just in distance. To get to that stage, it takes more than practice; it takes a whole lot of cash.

The price tag for taking 172 kids, six cellos, five tubas, four timpani drums and a host of strings, brass and woodwind instruments to New York City is almost half a million dollars.

They sold fundraising catalogues, boxes of cookies, candles, jewelry, Amish jams and chocolates. Some of the students even sold their own plasma.

It wasn't all blood, sweat and chocolate sales. In March, the kids got a boost from one of Broken Arrow's most famous alums, who swept into town promising to do everything she could to help.

"I'm thinking when are they going to get this opportunity," Kristin Chenoweth said. "It's such a small window in our lives that you get to play Carnegie Hall, and I never take it for granted, and I wanted to see everyone get to go."

Her master class at the B.A. Performing Arts Center raised $30,000, which helped pay for airfare. Her support helped the kids believe they belong there, on the world's most famous stage.

The program ranged from classical music to Broadway numbers, to an original piece set to the words of the kids themselves.

Then, as it all draws to a close, there is one surprise left.

"Ladies and gentlemen, making her conducting debut, Kristin Chenoweth," Frie announced.

She came dressed in tiger black and gold, but she was missing one thing.

"It just so happens, I made a very sparkly baton," Frie said as he handed it to Chenoweth.

There are moments in life when time stands still, when reality exceeds expectation, and you're never quite the same again.

This was one of those moments, when 172 dreams came true at Carnegie Hall.