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December 4, 2013

'The Blend' to perform at famed Carnegie Hall

BROWNSBURG — Brownsburg High School’s male choral ensemble, “The Blend,” has been given the unique opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York next month.

The Distinguished Concerts International New York City (DCINY) recently announced that director Deborah Prather and the ensemble were invited to participate in a performance of Randall Thomson’s The Testament of Freedom on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City Jan. 19.

The Blend consists of sophomore, junior, and senior male students.

“The Blend has been in existence for about 15 years,” Prather said. “I started the group with the hope that I would one day have a group that would attract maybe 20 to 24 men who wanted to be excellent in singing and performance … I am shocked that we have enough guys singing to have two men’s groups and two mixed ensembles at Brownsburg High School. I have been the only director for this group and it has been a pleasure to work with them every year.”

As for what they perform, Prather said it’s a wide variety.

“This group sings everything from Broadway selections to barbershop to Latin Motet and anything in between,” she said. “They compete every year in the Indiana State School Music Association’s Organization Event and have consistently qualified for ranking, making the top eight groups.

Prather said she recognizes the tremendous opportunity that the group has been given.

“Almost everyone in the world recognizes Carnegie Hall as a very prestigious performing venue,” she said. “Being invited to bring a group to Carnegie is without a doubt, an honor, but I feel incredibly honored to take this group of high school men to sing there. Singing is typically not the activity of choice for young men in our culture and to have 70 high school boys in this ensemble and to have them perform choral music at a level that would allow them to be invited to New York’s Carnegie Hall is indeed quite an honor.”

The Blend will join other choristers to form the Distinguished Concerts Singers International, a choir of distinction. Conductor Matt Oltman will lead the performance and will serve as the clinician for the residency.

“‘The Blend’ received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers and the exceptional recommendation given by Matt Oltman,” Dr. Johnathan Griffith, artistic director and principal conductor for DCINY said in a press release. “It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. Brownsburg‘s Blend is only one of two high school groups invited to sing with DCINY. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”

The group will spend up to five days and four nights in New York City preparing for the concert.

“The singers will spend approximately nine to 10 hours in rehearsals over the five day residency,” Griffith said. “Not all of the time is spent in rehearsals, since there is so much history and culture to see in New York City. However, the performance is the primary purpose for their visit to the city.”

As one might expect, the trip to New York for the 72-member ensemble won’t be cheap. In an effort to raise enough funds for the trip, The Blend will be stepping up its fundraising efforts in the near future.

“The parents are organizing a tailgate dinner … Dec. 6 before the Brownsburg basketball game,” Prather said. “Dawson’s Too will be catering with the proceeds going to the boys for travel expenses. There will be a variety of entrée choices, sides, and desserts. Cost will be $7. The Blend will be helping with the serving, as well as singing the National Anthem at the varsity game.”

Then ,on Dec. 7, The Blend will be selling hot chocolate, coffee, and donut holes in front of Brownsburg Town Hall during the Christmas Under the Stars Parade at 7:15 p.m.

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