The Red Bank Catholic Choir had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall on Monday, November 25th, as the only high school choir invited to be part of the “American Festival Choir,” a group of eight renowned choirs from seven states throughout the country. In addition to selected Christmas carols, they performed the premiere of “The Song of Christmas,” a piece composed specifically for Christmas in New York at Carnegie Hall by internationally known composers Phil Barfoot and Rebecca J. Peck. Mr. Barfoot, who recently spent the day at Red Bank Catholic to rehearse with the choir, was very happy with their performance and said, “We were so pleased to partner with the Red Bank Catholic Choir and Shawn Mack in presenting the world premiere of ‘The Song of Christmas’ at Carnegie Hall. Their commitment to excellence made them a very important part of the 225 voice American Festival Choir.”
The Red Bank Catholic choir, comprised of 50 students of all grade levels, is directed by RBC Music Director Shawn Mack, a 2005 RBC graduate. Mr. Mack, who had previously performed at Carnegie Hall himself, understands the students’ excitement: “It was quite an honor to be asked to perform at Carnegie Hall and in concert with such talented people. I know this is an experience our students will never forget.” The “Song of Christmas” was part of an 18 song performance, featuring solo artists Charles Bilingsley and Marcia Ware. RBC’s Shawn Mack and teacher John Cavicchio were also guest conductors for several songs.
The Red Bank Catholic community did not miss out on the big event. A group of almost 400 RBC friends, family members, faculty and staff attended the special performance. For most, the evening began at RBC where they all gathered to board chartered buses and enjoy the ride into Manhattan together, with a meal catered by Readies Café of Red Bank. As RBC Principal Robert Abatemarco notes, “It was the perfect way to start the Christmas season. To share the excitement of this special evening with our parents, teachers, Sisters of Mercy, alumni and friends was truly a testimony to what it means to be part of the Red Bank Catholic family. “
For members of the RBC Choir, it was an experience they will always remember. As Senior Kaitlin Leddy describes, “at first I was just so excited to be singing at Carnegie Hall. I couldn’t believe it. Then it actually ended up being a spiritual experience- the music was so beautiful. I was so happy to have the opportunity to sing those beautiful songs in Carnegie Hall as one of a group of voices from around the country. I will never, ever forget it.”
Last year, the RBC Choir was chosen from all the school choirs in the Diocese of Trenton to provide the liturgical music at the 2012 Eucharistic Congress Mass at the PNC Arts Center, celebrated with over 1,000 Catholic school students. The choir has also received many awards in competition, including first prize in the first NJ 101.5 “Christmas Choir Contest” in 2010 and recognition for superior performance in the 2011 High Note Music Festival in Hershey, PA.