Taking the stage: Longwood University professor will perform at Carnegie Hall

Published 1:30 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

FARMVILLE – Carnegie Hall is known for being one of the most prestigious stages where some of the best musicians in the world have performed. In May, a group from Longwood University will join that list.

Dr. Pamela McDermott and 30 of her students are heading to Carnegie Hall to perform on Saturday, May 13. The students will sing alongside students from other schools, including Alabama State University, to form a choir of around 120 to 130. According to McDermott, this combined force is needed when singing with a full orchestra. For the performance, McDermott will conduct John Rutter’s Gloria.

“It’s an honor to be recognized and offered this opportunity, and then be able to share that offer and experience to the students, especially after COVID, is amazing,” said McDermott. “Taking them to Carnegie Hall is a celebration of surviving COVID-19 and coming out the other side.”

Recovering from COVID’s impact

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McDermott is excited about this opportunity as COVID-19 had a huge and negative impact on the music program. This is the first year for students to get back to performing and experiencing others perform. Many of the students have never had the chance to do so before due to the pandemic. Now they get to have this experience on one of the biggest stages in the country.

According to McDermott, in the music profession, the way to engage in the field is by being on stage in other places than where you work. Like a paper or a book, this is how the world sees you doing what you do. McDermott was recommended for this performance at Carnegie Hall by a colleague.

McDermott and the students will be in New York for five days rehearsing and exploring the city. All singers will spend two days rehearsing at the hotel before rehearsing at the hall. They will be able to go in and have the experience like the great musicians who performed there before. Along with their performance, they’ll be able to watch other groups perform.

Help for Longwood University music program

Being the expensive trip it is, this couldn’t have happened without help from Longwood University and others in the community. McDermott knew with COVID-19 there were many students who were barely affording college and wouldn’t be able to afford the trip. Members of the community, family, friends and alumni gave to fundraisers and raised $20,000 to make this opportunity happen.

“There’s a long history of art and community in Farmville,” said McDermott. “I’ve lived here 25 years and raised children here where they can dream big and we work together to make it happen. It’s just the way we are.”

For those who can’t make it to New York City this spring, there is another opportunity to experience the performance. The Longwood students along with students from Hampden-Sydney College, alumni and members of The Commonwealth Chorale will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Jarman Hall. There will be solo performances as well as everyone coming together to perform John Rutter’s Gloria.