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RRHS music teacher to take choir to Carnegie Hall

Rio Rancho High choir director Becky Talbott, right, leads her choir in a performance at the Cleveland High Concert Hall. Rio Rancho High’s concert choir has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and will spend five days and four nights in New York. (Courtesy of the Rio Rancho Observer)

Rio Rancho High choir director Becky Talbott, right, leads her choir in a performance at the Cleveland High Concert Hall. Rio Rancho High’s concert choir has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and will spend five days and four nights in New York. (Courtesy of the Rio Rancho Observer)

Pretty much all her life, Becky Talbott dreamed of performing in Carnegie Hall.

That dream will come true for Talbott, the choir teacher at Rio Rancho High School, and 40 choir members in November.

Her concert choir – last year’s Class 6A state champion, minus graduated seniors – has been invited to participate in a large gathering at the famous hall.

“For football players, it’s the Super Bowl. For singers, it’s Carnegie Hall,” Talbott said, who recalls wanting to be a music teacher when she was a mere 9 years of age.

“There’s lots of teachers in my family,” Talbott, in her eighth year at RRHS, said.

But none has appeared in Carnegie Hall, it should be noted.

“I have stood there in Carnegie Hall,” she said, recalling a quick trip inside the hallowed hall during a family vacation long ago.

Her RRHS concert choir was named the 2015 New Mexico Music Educators Honor Choir.

It wasn’t Carnegie Hall, but, “We performed in Popejoy Hall on January 8 of that year. It was amazing,” Talbott said.

She has also led RRHS choir performances at Disneyland, SeaWorld, Huntington Beach, Dallas and atop Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs.

Not all were scheduled performances; one, she said, was spontaneous, when the kids felt like singing.

“We’re like nerds,” she said, laughing.

Her Carnegie Hall-bound singers, she said, are “the cream of the cream of the crop.”

Forty of the 60 members, plus eight “official chaperones,” expect to raise enough money – $2,000 each is required – to make the trip.

Distinguished Concerts International in New York City invited Talbott and her choir to participate in a performance of Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City. The performance will be held at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, Nov. 20, under the baton of Bradley Ellingboe, who from 1985-2015 was a professor of music and director of choral activities at the University of New Mexico.

The outstanding musicians will join other singers from around the world to form the Distinguished Concerts Singers International, a choir of distinction. Ellingboe will also serve as the clinician for the residency.

“The Rio Rancho High School choir received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers,” said Dr. Jonathan Griffith, artistic director and principal conductor for DCINY. “It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”

The singing Rams will spend five days and four nights in the Big Apple in preparation for their concert.

Fortunately, said Griffith, “Not all of the time is spent in rehearsals, since there is so much history and culture to see in New York City.”

Talbott said her group will be sure to see “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, where “They say the neon lights are bright.”

They’ll also visit the Empire State Building, the 9/11 memorial, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

New RRHS Principal Sherri Carver said it’s a great honor.

“My first experience going to a choir performance here was great, especially the quality of the singing I heard and the music,” Carver said. “I was blown away. They do an outstanding job and this recognition by Carnegie Hall proves it.

“She has fun with the kids,” Carver added, believing the methods employed by Talbott and word of mouth around the campus may be the reason for a phenomenon: “For some reason, our piano classes have exploded,” Carver said.

Talbott, it should be mentioned, not only teaches four choir classes, but also guitar and piano.

Members of the community are encouraged to give financial support in sending the singers to New York by contacting the choir boosters or Talbott at 962-9430 or via email at becky.talbott@rrps.net.

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