By Hayley Safley
*This article originally appeared on The Odyssey.
On February 4, 2016, I embarked on an incredible music adventure with the High School Honors Performance Series. To make a total cliché, it absolutely was a bucket list, life-changing experience.
I met incredible people from all over the world.
There were musicians and singers from 49 states and several other countries represented. I remember there being a guy from New Zealand and a girl from Korea. 750 people were chosen for the program. In the Honors Concert Choir alone there were 270 people. There was such a sense of unity with teenagers from all over brought together over a passion of music.
I can say I sang at Carnegie Hall.
On just about every musician’s bucket list, I believe, is performing at Carnegie Hall —it may even be among the top. As of February 7, 2016, I can officially cross that off. There was such an intense sense of awe, standing on the very stage that many of the most talented people in the world had stood on. Also, did I mention that Kristin Chenoweth sang there a few days later? Bragging rights received.
I received so much love from my hometown.
As I prepared to travel, there was an outreach of love and support from my hometown. I was featured in the newspaper. Every time I turned around, people were asking me questions or giving me words of encouragement. My school, peers and teachers were so supportive in keeping me up to date with school work. I felt so special and confident with their help. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gone without their extra push.
I traveled without my family for the first time.
I was so nervous about navigating an airport without having someone to prompt my every move. However, it was a really freeing learning experience. Somehow, my travel buddy and I managed to not miss a flight and to keep up with all of our luggage. Who says flying can’t be fun?
I met and worked with music professionals.
Almost every chaperone was a high school band or choir director who knew the history of the city and the music. They gave advice and criticism. It was such a learning experience. The conductors that we spent hours with each day were incredible too. In the Honors Concert Choir, I had the privilege to be under the direction of Dr. Jeffery L. Ames. He kept us entertained while helping us to grow our voices and experiences.
I made lifelong friendships.
Just about every day, I talk to the people from my chaperone group. We laugh, reminisce and support each other’s future projects. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit with them since I left New York but somehow our friendship keeps going strong. These people share my crazy love for music, my traveler’s heart, and goals for the future. Besides my group, I have kept up with many others on social media. Such a wonderful group of people and I have been bound together by a life changing experience.
If you haven’t gotten the gist, I absolutely love the Honors Performance Series. Through it, I met some of my closest friends. I got to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. I made incredible music with incredible people, and I lived outside of the box while getting to do what I love the most. If you are anywhere from middle school to college and are interested in band, orchestra or choir, you should definitely check it out. I promise that you won’t regret it.
The Honors Performance Series offers several annual opportunities for distinguished young musicians from middle school through 25 years old the opportunity to work with master conductors and perform on some of the world’s most renowned stages. For more information about auditioning to perform at Carnegie Hall or Sydney Opera House, visit www.honorsperformance.org.