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How do you get to Carnegie Hall? For the Old Dominion University Choir it was not only practice, practice, practice, but also a dash of knowing the right person, not taking no for an answer and good, old-fashioned luck.

Led by Nancy Klein, associate professor of music, 28 students from the 60-member choir joined singers from a handful of universities across the country to perform Mozart's "Solemn Vespers" in a March 24 concert at the legendary New York facility.

The group performed the 40-minute-long piece under the baton of David Greenlee of Eastern Kentucky University, Klein?s former professor and mentor. The trip came about when Greenlee asked some of his best former students to bring their current students to perform in his retirement concert -- a concert that just happened to be in the premier performance venue for musicians around the world.

"It's always been a desire for singers to perform in that hall," said Klein, who performed there herself in 1993. Since that time she has wanted to bring her students to the hallowed hall. Two years ago the group came close, singing blocks away in St. Patrick's Cathedral, yet the Carnegie Hall dream remained.

Unfortunately, a few months after the opportunity presented itself in September, the state budget crisis reared its ugly head, freezing travel monies. The trip looked like it wasn't going to happen.

"The basic inhibitor to doing a trip like this is always money," explained Klein, who noted that transportation and lodging would run nearly $1,000 per student -- a figure she deemed too high to ask choir members to come up with on their own.

However, President Roseann Runte, an arts advocate herself with a keen understanding of just how rare the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall is, particularly for student vocalists, stepped in and found a way for the university to help underwrite the expenses. According to Klein, the trip would not have been possible without the president's assistance and the generosity of the Alumni Association. In all, students ended up paying for just over half of the cost of the trip.

For Klein, the experience was magical, in part because she was able to give a special gift to her former teacher -- a man she looks on as a father figure. "To have my students work with him ... it was like they're his grandchildren." And for the students, this once-in-a-lifetime memory is something they undoubtedly will share with their own grandchildren one day.

This article was posted on: April 3, 2002

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