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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 6 months ago

Seabreeze High School Chorus headed to Carnegie Hall in March

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The group was also selected as the featured choir for the concert.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The Seabreeze High School chorus has two months and $34,000 to raise.

Why? To perform at Carnegie Hall in New York this March, an honor bestowed on them after performing well last spring at the Worldstrides Heritage Festival in Orlando. The chorus earned a gold rating at the festival at Universal Studios, as well as earned second place. 

The students also won the spirit award for showcasing comradery and support for other groups. The Seabreeze chorus was one of two groups invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, though initially the invitation was for a concert in 2021. SHS Vocal Department Director Julia Hood petitioned for 2020 instead, seeing as waiting an additional year would have meant excluding students who would be graduated by then.

“I didn’t want to not include the juniors from last year who worked so hard," Hood said.

So 2020 it was. 

The Seabreeze High School Chorus won second place at the Worldstrides Heritage Festival in Orlando last spring. Courtesy photo

This isn't Hood's first time bringing students to Carnegie Hall; as a teacher in Silver Sands Middle School in 2001, she brought a small group for a national honor choir.

This time, aside from her students performing in the 200-person honor choir, her chorus group was also selected to be the featured choir.

A total of 30 students — comprised from the general chorus, advanced vocal ensemble and the musical theater class — are planned to go on the trip, which comes with a $58,000 price tag. That amounts to $1,780 per student. 

So far, Hood said students have paid $24,000 toward the trip. That's where the remaining $34,000 comes in. 

Fundraising has been a challenge for the choir. Unlike SHS's marching band, which performed in London's New Year's Day parade last year, the vocal department doesn't have a 501c3 organization. All fundraising must go through the school. 

This Saturday, Jan. 18, the chorus will be hosting a fundraiser at Hard Rock Daytona Beach. Those who want to donate funds can also do so through this GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/send-seabreeze-chorus-to-carnegie-hall

If the department was able to cut the needed $34,000 in half,  “that would be blessing,” Hood said.

SHS senior Ben Kuftic said any help towards getting students to Carnegie Hall is appreciated. If they don't take advantage of this opportunity, when will they get another one, he asked.

“It’s just something really great to be able to share your passion about music — which, everyone loves music, everyone listens to it all the time, but to be able to share that with someone is something not a lot of people have, and I think they should,” said Kuftic, who also participated in the 2020 Florida All-State Concert Chorus in Tampa recently.

It's an opportunity to get their voices out there, said SHS senior Ashley Butial. There are also a lot of different projects going on at once in the department — aside from preparing for Carnegie Hall, the students are also getting ready for Solo and Ensemble and an "Into The Woods" musical in early February.

“It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m super excited to take on these challenges," Butial said.

The students will also have a chance to participate in a workshop with a Broadway performer once in New York, Hood said. It'll be a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, and part of why Hood pushed for this class of students to go to Carnegie Hall stems from their love of music.

“It’s not only fun, but they have a good time making music, and that’s really what this is all about — it’s about coming together to make music and to share that,” Hood said.

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