The Vancouver USA Singers (VUSAS), directed by Jana Hart, are proud to announce the success of their Carnegie Hall debut. The VUSAS were invited to participate in this prestigious event back in February of 2013 when the production company Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) learned of their experience with The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass by Carol Barnett and VUSAS sent in an audition video recording.
VUSAS immediately began preparing for this exciting concert with many rehearsals and fundraising. At the same time there were four other choirs from around the nation also preparing for the big day; Berea College Choir and The Lexington Singers from Kentucky, The Lyric Chorale from New York, and the North Stuart Baptist Church/Treasure Coast Community Singers from Florida. When they all arrived in New York they had to all learn to sing together as one choir.
Dr. Jefferson Johnson conducted the combined choir which included 200 singers from around the nation. Dr. Johnson is the director of choral activities at the University of Kentucky. He received his bachelor of music degree from the University of Georgia, his master’s degree of music from the University of Tennessee, and his doctorate of musical arts from the University of Colorado. Dr. Johnson is also the current director of The Lexington Singers. He repeated complimented the individual directors for the hard work and expert preparation given. It made the huge task of combining these diverse choirs with only two rehearsals possible.
After all of those months of preparation it was finally time to take off to New York. It was an exciting whirlwind trip. VUSAS director, Jana Hart, left for New York on June 4th to attend special director’s meetings and the rest of the choir joined her on June 5th. The first rehearsal was on Friday, June 6th at 8:45 AM. The choir gathered together and walked through Central Park to get to the first rehearsal venue, Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church. Rehearsal concluded at 12:30 PM giving the group the rest of the day to see the sights. The second rehearsal was held at the Crown Plaza on Saturday, June 7th at 12:45 PM and concluded at 5:00 PM leaving the evening open for individual activities. On Sunday, June 8th the choir had their dress rehearsal at Carnegie Hall at 9:15 AM until 11:15 AM. Some of the choir chose to stay at Carnegie and watch the other performers rehearse, while others left to get in a few more sights and activities. The choir had to be back at Carnegie at 2:30 PM ready to perform.
The composer, Carol Barnett, and the librettist, Marisha Chamberlain, were present for every rehearsal and the performance. Carol Barnett is a charter member of the American Composers Forum and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She currently teaches at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Marisha Chamberlain is a poet, playwright, and novelist. She began a significant collaboration with Barnett in 1997 with their premier of their music theatre piece, Meeting at Seneca Falls. The World Beloved is their second collaboration.
The choir had the honor of sharing the stage with Dailey & Vincent, one of the top Bluegrass bands in America. From the very beginning of their partnership in late 2007, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent quickly established themselves as fresh voices in their genre. The concoction of their fantastically powerful vocal blends, 4 award-winning studio albums, and heavy touring schedules has gained them well-deserved attention from bluegrass, country, and gospel critics and fans alike.
Dailey & Vincent has been recognized as 3-time IBMA Entertainer of The Year, 3-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, 2-time Grammy nominee, and Dove Award winners. Equally at home with material from any of the aforementioned genres, Jamie and Darrin continue to expand on the possibilities of what kinds of music can become “Dailey & Vincent” music.
VUSAS participated in The World Beloved, which was to be the finale of the concert. Dailey & Vincent provided the accompaniment and the solos for the piece which is set in the style of a Catholic mass with a distinctive bluegrass flair. The audience was very responsive and rose to their feet giving a standing ovation at the end. Dailey & Vincent along with the choir gave a surprise encore performance with the classic blugrass tune Black Eyed Susan and the audience rose again to give a second standing ovation.
“I cannot begin to describe what an incredible experience it was. Looking out on the audience from the stage in Carnegie Hall was surreal. Receiving standing ovations was even more incredible.” VUSAS alto, Marna Hopkins.
“Words can’t describe the joy I felt singing The World Beloved Bluegrass Mass at Carnegie Hall. The band Dailey & Vincent were amazing and so fun to perform with. The audience’s faces were priceless and we got several standing ovations. An experienced I will never forget!” – VUSAS alto, Amy Christenson
“Thank you all for letting us be part of this incredible experience! Vancouver Singers had tears in their eyes as they finished this beautiful work. Thanks to Carol Barnett for creating such a beautiful piece, thanks to Marisha Chamberlain for her exquisite poetry. Thanks to Dailey and Vincent for truly making this work a blend of bluegrass and very classic music. Thanks to Kevin, Edmundo and all the staff at DCINY that organized this huge concert so seamlessly. To everyone, every single singer has told me this was a life-defining experience. Thank you all!” – Jana Hart
VUSAS has more exciting events planned in the seasons to come. We are currently working with composer Henry Mollicone on a choral exchange with his choir in California. We hope to host a performance with them in the near future and then reciprocate by traveling to CA to perform.