The members of the Glen Cove Select Chorale will be heading for Manhattan on Dec. 20. But they aren’t just going on a school trip. They were chosen to perform at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as part of the Catholic church’s 39th Annual A City Singing at Christmas, an opportunity for the public to enjoy a free concert filled with traditional and contemporary Christmas hymns and carols. The concert is from 7 to 9 p.m.
Edward Norris, the high school choral director, couldn’t be prouder. “There are so many amazing ensembles on Long Island, but these kids are so special,” he said. “They embrace their diversity. I have athletes, kids who have to rush home to babysit because their parents work multiple jobs, all types of students in my chorale. They devote 150 percent of themselves to this.”
The Select Chorale, which includes sophomores, juniors and seniors, will be part of a program at St. Patrick’s that includes the prestigious Young People’s Chorus of New York, St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, the Cathedral Organs and the New York Symphonic Brass. At the end of the evening they will join everyone else in the church, when the lights are dimmed, to hold a candle and sing “Silent Night.” The event is very popular, and people stand on line outside for hours to enjoy the complimentary evening of Christmas joy.
Arden Sanders-D’Alleva, 17, a senior, has never been to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She is the president of the Select Chorale and singing first soprano. “This is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of those places that everyone tries to go to during the holiday season no matter how packed it is. The fact that we will be singing there is extremely mind-blowing.”
Norris said the group was invited to participate and that it is not the first amazing opportunity they’ve had to share their talents. The Select Chorale sang at the White House on Dec. 13, 2013. “The kids’ sang for 5 ½ hours,” he said. “And we were told it was unlikely we would meet Pres. Obama.”
But when they were rehearsing inside the rotunda a secret service agent pulled Norris aside. The president, he said, was down the hall and would like to speak to the chorale after they were finished rehearsing. “We were brought into the Diplomat Room and Pres. Obama came in and said, ‘What’s up Glen Cove!’” Norris said. “He and Michelle spent 20 minutes with us.”
That was when people started to notice the group. They were next invited to perform in Italy and sang for Pope Francis at St. Peters Basilica in January 2015. “That was mind-blowing,” Norris said. “Most of my kids have never been out of the country and some had never been on a plane before.”
The chorale was there for eight days performing continually. Norris said everywhere they went they were treated like “rock stars.”
It was the performances in Italy that led to the invite at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The members of the chorale can’t wait to perform, Norris said, but not just for the clout of saying they were part of the event.
“Singing to me is a way to express a feeling to share with the audience and a way to express your own feelings as well,” said Christina Cavallone, 17, a senior and part of the soprano one section. She added that her favorite song that they will perform is the “Carole of the Wise Men” because it’s “one of those pieces that embodies the spirit of Christmas.”
Julianna Willson, 17, a senior who is part of the alto section, said she’s known since middle school that she wanted to be a part of the Select Chorale. She has enjoyed the challenges but also the comraderies. “We are a tight-knit group which makes us better,” she said. “Singing at St. Patrick’s will be a really cool place to perform. I just can’t wait.”