While other kids spent their March Break relaxing, 11-year-old Kara of Angus was hard at work. She was just weeks away from the biggest performance of her life – singing live at Carnegie Hall.
Kara is one of eight singers, including one other from Base Borden, attending from the local choir at Music in Motion, a family owned and operated business in Angus. The school, run by Jeanette and Doug Martin, offers everything from choir and voice lessons to musical theatre, dance, and piano, flute, violin, and guitar lessons. Jeanette, the school’s choral director, received a special invitation to bring a group to perform at the National Festival Chorus in New York. There, they will join forces with 300 singers from choirs across the United States to perform together on April 4th.
“It’s a big honour to take part in this,” Jeanette Martin said, noting that Music in Motion is the only Canadian group to be invited to participate. She made the invitation open to any of the choir members who were interested in attending. “I’m so excited for them. Anybody that wanted to go, I wanted them to have this opportunity if they fit into that age category, because it’s once in a lifetime.”
“I’m nervous and excited,” Kara said, adding that she feels “very lucky because not a lot of people [who] are my age get to have this big opportunity. A lot of my friends think it’s pretty cool.”
Her parents think so too. “It’s pretty amazing, compared to what I got to do when I was her age,” said Kara’s dad, Sgt Brent Baggs, Mobile Support Equipment Operator(MSE OP) posted to the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) School at Base Borden.
In the last two years, he’s gotten used to the sounds of musicals coming through the walls at home. “She’s become a drama kid for sure,” he said. “She’s finally found her thing. She never took to too many sports or things like that. It’s pretty much just all musicals, all the time.”
It’s her passion and dedication, he says, that has gotten her here.
“My dream job is to be an actor on Broadway,” Kara said. “Not even have a big role, just be there as like a background dancer or something.”
Not only did Kara attend rehearsals all through March Break, she’s used to taking her scripts to school to practice her lines. But the upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall will be even more challenging than what she’s used to, with the group performing songs in different languages, including Latin and South African.
“It’s very difficult music, so we’ve been working long and hard on this,” said Martin.
The choir has been rehearsing their parts, and they’ll arrive in New York early for a few days of intensive rehearsals with the full group to put the pieces together with the help of the show’s director, Jamie Hillman.
It’s a challenge Martin knows will pay off. The kids going, ranging in age from 11 to 20, will get a chance to work with a world-class choral director, understand what it’s like to be part of a large choral group, expand their musical horizons, and they’ll even have time to explore New York and see Aladdin on Broadway while there.
“They’re very talented kids.” said Martin. “I think they’ll be very proud of themselves when this is all done, at how much they’ve learned and accomplished.”
“These kids that are going to Carnegie have really really been working hard,” said Doug Martin. “It’s not easy. Even for good singers, it’s not easy. And sometimes it’s frustrating and even discouraging. But they’ve been pushing through and working very hard.”
The National Festival Chorus takes place Monday, April 4th at 8 p.m. in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, which seats 2,790.
No stranger to the spotlight, Kara isn’t worried about keeping her nerves under control. She’s been involved with no fewer than four musicals with Music in Motion, including Beauty and the Beast, Music Man, Newsies, and is currently preparing for her first lead role in the upcoming Anne of Green Gables.
“Well, when you’re on stage there’s a lot of lights shining at you so you basically only see silhouettes and you don’t see faces,” she explained. “So it’s not really that nerve wracking, because you can just imagine no one’s there.”
With 40 years of experience as a choral director, Martin knows first-hand just how rare opportunities like this are.
“There are some kids that didn’t think they could ever do this,” she said. “And some were one note wonders until they got trained, and now they’re singing different parts and they’re memorizing, and they’re singing in different languages. It’s really very rewarding.”
The group will get to show off their talents locally as well. Community is welcome to attend a concert at the Music in Motion studio in the Rainbow Plaza on May 28 at 7 p.m. and May 29 at 3 p.m. Alongside the full senior choir, the group will perform the same songs they will be performing at Carnegie Hall. Ticket sales will help fund the up-front costs of sending the kids to Carnegie Hall.
By: Emily Nakeff, Editor, Borden Citizen