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Ensemble earned invitation to perform at the world-class New York City venue

COURTESY PHOTO: MIDAMERICA PRODUCTIONS AND ALICE BOYER - The MidAmerica Productions choir ensemble led by director William Skoog in 2017. Numerous members of the River City Singers were able to attend the event, and nine current members will be returning to perform at Carnegie Hall on May 27. Nine vocalists from the River City Singers, Columbia County's non-auditioned community chorale group, will travel to New York City later this month to perform at iconic Carnegie Hall.

In late May, choir members will join more than 150 other voices during a special performance hosted by MidAmerica Productions and directed by renowned composer and chorister, John Rutter.

Alice Boyer, the River City Singers director, said she is looking forward to performing at the world-class music hall on May 27.

"To be able to step out of our tiny community and be in this enormous city and be on this huge stage, with five or six choirs, and then world-class soloists ... there's, like, no words to describe how cool that's going to be for us," Boyer said.

The choir was invited to attend a similar performance in 2017, which earned them an invitation to join again this year. The opportunity to perform and be directed by Rutter, a renowned composer and chorister, was a unique opportunity and one many members of the choir didn't want to pass up. This trip will mark the third time the River City Singers have been to Carnegie Hall.

"He's a very well-known composer [and] kind of a bar-setter as far as what good choral sound is supposed to be," Boyer said of Rutter. "When I mentioned this was an option, there was good interest from the group."

Boyer said she is especially delighted to work with Rutter on stage since she, and likely many other musicians, have been working with his arrangements and works for years.

"I was personally excited about doing this because of the long history I have had performing John Rutter's music," Boyer said. "From the time I was in middle school I was singing his music. He really is a favorite composer of mine."

The choral performance will be Rutter's first time directing work from his recently published anthology, "Sacred Choruses," which incorporates hundreds of pages of music into it, in the United States. The concert in May will feature a selection of those works, including pieces by composers J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Joseph Haydn, Johannes Brahams and Franz Schubert. In addition to the vocal performances, the concert will feature a purely instrumental selection of Mozart's Epistle Sonota in C Major, and four soloists who will also sing.

Rutter is a renowned English composer, chorister and conductor. He has an extensive list of published compositions, carols and anthologies, which are collections of musical compositions, and has co-edited various choral volumes. Rutter was also the director of music at Clare College in Cambridge in the 1970s.

"Anthologising is one of life's sweet pleasures, rather like throwing a party for your favourite friends," Rutter stated in a press release from MidAmerica Productions. "Imagine that, by a miracle of scheduling, there they all are in one room at one time, and as you circulate among them, you remember exactly why you wanted to be their friend in the first place, you probably remember the circumstances of your first meeting, and you are delighted to find that they haven't changed a bit and you are still drawn to them. Also at the party are some new friends; you haven't known them for as long, but you sense that they will remain your friends forever."

In addition to the performance, trip attendees will be able to sight see and attend a special dinner cruise along New York Harbor.

"You get this incredible experience of performing in Carnegie Hall which is this iconic, high-end performance venue, and then you're still on this high and they put you on a boat and feed you dinner and take you around New York Harbor," Boyer said, recalling the experience she had in

2017.

The five-day trip costs nearly $2,700 per member to attend, which was somewhat of a limiting factor for some members. Individuals have been responsible for their own expenses, but the choir overall has continued to fundraise throughout the year to support the organization.

The River City Singers, which is a non-auditioned community choir and nonprofit organization, raise money from concert entrance donations, holiday wreath and concession sales, and other fundraising efforts that help support the choir's purchase of new music, pay for accompaniment, and expand concert venue locations throughout the year.

In late April, the River City Singers choir performed their spring production of "Cathedral Reflections" at the First United Methodist Church, and will travel to Clatskanie this weekend to host another performance.

The choir will perform at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Clatskanie Cultural Center's Birkenfeld Theater, 75 S. Nehalem St. A suggested donation of $10 is requested.

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