Memorial Day 2013 was particularly eventful for Grundy County’s young rising vocal talent, Rielly Sanders, a 19-year-old Mazon resident majoring in music at Joliet Junior College.
Thanks to Joliet Junior College Choral Director Phillip Spencer, who arranged the trip, Rielly and four other members of the JJC Chamber Singers and 15 members of the JJC Chorale flew out on Friday, May 24, destined for New York City to participate in a choral performance at Carnegie Hall on Memorial Day.
A group of about 200 singers from various parts of the country gathered there to perform John Milford Rutter’s Composition, Requiem (1985) conducted by the 67-year-old Rutter himself.
“It was a little intimidating and overwhelming when we first walked out on that stage and sang to a full house in New York’s Carnegie Hall,” Rielly said, “however, the longer we sang, the more I was overcome with the desire to continue and never stop. The sound enveloped the entire room and it was awe inspiring.”
During the four- to five-hour practices at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, Rutter was available for pictures, autographs and conversations with the singers. Rielly found that this renowned British composer had a witty sense of humor, which helped everyone feel comfortable.
Each participant received a copy of the Requiem, which Rutter signed, and Rielly was struck by his ability to relate to ordinary people when he joked about the spelling of her name.
Rutter’s music is very popular in the United States — NBC’s Today Show called him “the world’s greatest living composer and conductor of choral music. A review in the London Evening Standard stated that “For the infectiousness of his melodic invention and consumate craftsmandship, Rutter has few peers.”
Rutter’s choral composition “This is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made” was specially commissioned for the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011 performed at Westminister Abbey during the service.
After the concert, the choral members were shuttled by bus to New York Harbor and boarded a cruise ship, which took them close to the Statue of Liberty. Rielly found the sight breathtaking, especially since it was Memorial Day.
While in New York, Rielly attended the Broadway play “Annie,” and every night she and her friends took in the magic of Times Square.
“I was so happy that I was able to be a part of this experience, and am determined to go back again” she said.