CHS Concert Choir in New York City!

The group is set to perform Sunday for a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“I’m super-excited,” said CHS junior Hannah Haynes. “I’m also nervous because it’s in Carnegie Hall.”

 The local group will be among hundreds of students from as far away as China taking part in the “Total Vocal” a capella concert produced by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY).

CHS junior Said Mendez is looking forward to singing with such a large group.

“There’s going to be people from all over the United States,” he said.

DCINY director Iris Derke said the CHS group got her attention when she saw their video for the Macy’s A Cappella Challenge in October 2015.

“It’s very cool. It gives you a sense of their talent,” Derke said of the video. “They were our very first group to sign up for the 2017 concert.”

The students will get to work with a capella composer and director Deke Sharon, Kelley Jakle from “Pitch Perfect,” beatboxer Chesney Snow, “American Idol” runner-up Justin Guarini and other renowned singers.

Tuesday evening the CHS choir had its last rehearsal before the trip. Director Jacob Ritter went through last-minute questions then led the singers in a capella renditions of “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

“I’m extremely excited for these kids,” said Ritter. “Some of these kids get to sing a solo at a packed Carnegie Hall, which is something I’ve never done — and I’ve devoted my life to music.”

Sophomore Mitch Norris is one of those soloists.

“I’m pumped,” he said. “That’s exciting, getting a solo at Carnegie Hall.”

Norris has been in choir since seventh grade and got into a capella when he heard the group Pentatonix.

 “I like that people can do different things with their voice and make it like musical instruments,” said Christiansen.

Derke said the growing popularity of a capella, through movies such as “Pitch Perfect,” groups like Pentatonix and television shows including “The Sing Off,” has drawn more young people to the choral arts.

“Any time we see the younger generation get excited about singing we’re happy to support that,” she said.

The group of 47 students from Columbus High will take off from Omaha at 5:30 Thursday morning and get to take in New York City between rehearsals.

“I’m excited to sightsee more than anything,” said Christiansen. “Well, not more than anything.”

For Ritter, this trip has been a long time in the making.

“The excitement has built and built,” he said. “This week I’ve been on overdrive because of the excitement.”

A lot of that excitement is for his students and what he hopes they’ll get out of the experience.

“Lifelong memories, a true appreciation for vocal performance and a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall,” Ritter said.

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