The thriving Bulkley Valley music scene is a point of pride for many of its residents, and New York City recently got a small sample of what it has to offer.
A local choir, Nova Borealis, traveled to the United States to perform at Carnegie Hall on May 19.
“There were 17 of us that performed, there was 160 on stage. Twenty-seven people went altogether, but that was partners and spouses and friends. Only 17 of us, and we put Smithers on the map – everybody knew where we were from,” said choir director Sharon Carrington.
Nova Borealis was originally part of the Smithers Community Christmas Choir, and formed a smaller group specifically for the New York trip.
“The organizers at Carnegie Hall, Mid-America Productions, contacted me and said, ‘Would you be interested in joining this group and singing Requiem for the Living?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ So that’s how we got started, that was the beginning of our journey,” explained Carrington.
She was stunned when she received the invitation.
“I was so excited, and I thought, ‘Can we actually do this? Is this even possible? Maybe nobody else wants to go.’ There were 17 very brave souls,” she said.
Nova Borealis was the second act out of three that day. They performed Requiem for the Living, a classical piece by American composer Dan Forrest.
“It was five sections – the total length of time is over 40 minutes,” Carrington explained.
She said the experience invoked a myriad of emotions.
“When I walked out on the stage, it was surreal. I could hardly believe that I was standing in Carnegie Hall, on the stage, performing. It was exhilarating. We worked very hard.”
Carrington said she sees Carnegie Hall as a symbol of excellence and “the apex of anyone’s career.”
“It represents tradition, it represents hard work, and kind of the top of your game. That’s what, to me, it represents. And, I mean, the building is wonderfully appointed. It’s beautiful in there. It holds over 2,800 people. There’s a history of excellent, first-grade performances. There are many places in the world that are like Carnegie Hall, but the name Carnegie Hall is just synonymous with that.”
She added, “They have huge posters, and they have a beautiful museum of all of the people that have performed. I mean, there’s just, like, famous people and top notch artists in all genres of music.”
Nova Borealis is already making plans for future performances, including a possible trip to Europe with Mid-America Productions in 2020.
“I think that you need to dream big, because you never know the opportunities that are going to come along. For all the hours that people practise, and they hone their craft – you just never know when that opportunity is going to come along … Nothing is impossible. Who would have thought this little tiny town in northern B.C., Canada, would have the privilege of performing on one of the most famous and recognized stages in the world?”