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Student, 17, recounts performance at Carnegie Hall


Madeline Andriesen sang with Haines School choir and has performed at state and regional music festivals in Anchorage and the Lower 48.

But singing at New York’s Carnegie Hall during the High School Honors Performance Series last month was a different experience entirely, said the 17-year-old Haines High School junior. She performed as an alto 1 in a concert choir with about 300 students from the U.S. and abroad.

“Just to get to sing with all those wonderful voices, with a choir that big and the caliber of the voices, it’s such a higher standard,” said Andriesen.

She was one of 700 students chosen for the program from about 18,000 who were nominated. Besides choir, students also performed in an orchestra, band, and a women’s treble choir. Former Haines student Neil Little, now in Sitka, also sang in the choir.

The concert choir performed six pieces of music. Andriesen had received part-dominant recordings of them in January. Practicing every night, she memorized the pieces, then went to the website YouTube to hear the full choir versions. In New York, the choir rehearsed eight hours a day for two days before the Feb. 7 show.

Performance pieces included arrangements of “How Can I Keep from Singing,” “Dwijananthi,” “I Can Feel the Spirit,” “Song to the Moon,” “Alleluia” and “Music of Living.”

The music was challenging, Andriesen said, with complicated rhythms and harmonies compared to pieces she’s performed previously. “You go into the music super deep and sing it exactly how it’s written. Plus, you have more emotion when you have that many people singing a song. You get to set a mood.”

In addition, Andriesen typically sings soprano. “Alto 1 was a stretch for her,” said vocal instructor Nancy Nash. “It was great that she was able to make it into the low range. Madeline has a wide range. She works very hard and she’s very musical.”

Andriesen auditioned for a solo alto part and said she felt lucky to get called back for a second audition, which put her among a handful of finalists for the part.

With all the preparation, Andriesen said she didn’t have time to get nervous about performing. “After we got done all the pieces, we got a standing ovation. It hit me then that we were getting a standing ovation in Carnegie Hall, which is pretty cool.”

Andriesen, who also plays alto sax in the school pep band, said she wants to return to perform with the program in New York next year and is interested in pursuing her music in some way after high school. Lindsey Jobbins of Haines also attended the Carnegie program for two years and is pursuing music in college.

“I definitely want to do something with it. I love music theater. I’d love to do something on Broadway,” she said.

That Madeline has excelled in music is no surprise to her family. Father Thom Andriesen said she started with voice and piano lessons at about age 5. “She arrived in the world singing. She’s always singing around the house.”


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