Jerry Myers, professor and coordinator of the Music program at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, believes in taking learning beyond the classroom—even beyond the confines of the campus.
And in special circumstances, maybe even beyond the Midwest.
In March, the Meramec Concert Choir took learning all the way to New York City with a special performance at Carnegie Hall.
The trip was initiated by an invitation from the chair of the Music Department at Webster University. The goal was to create a large St. Louis collegiate choir to perform under the direction of David Rayl, a Missouri native and professor at Michigan State University. Students from Webster University’s and the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ choral programs also participated, along with choirs from Tennessee, Iowa and California.
The chosen performance was Franz Schubert’s “Mass in A Flat.” The challenging 50-minute piece required students to invest an extra 10 hours of rehearsal on top of their regular class rehearsals at Meramec, and an additional 10 hours of rehearsal once they arrived in New York City.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. Students were able to sample all the Big Apple has to offer during the course of their four day trip, including sightseeing, Broadway shows, restaurants and the subway. For many, this was a first trip to New York and an incredible opportunity to both perform in one of the most iconic concert halls in the world and experience the wonder of New York City.
Meramec student Zack Kierstead had perhaps the most memorable experience. His family made the most of the trip by purchasing tickets for the new Broadway musical adaptation of “Groundhog Day,” written by Tim Minchin, a comedian, writer and artist who Kierstead greatly admires. Imagine his surprise when the seat next to him, empty during the first act, is taken during the second act by none other than Minchin. Kierstead was understandably shocked.
“In my mind, I immediately recognized who it was, but I didn’t really believe it,” he said. “He must have realized that I was sort of freaking out, so he leaned over and told me, ‘You’ve got to pay attention. Focus. Focus.’ He then pointed up toward the stage. It was such a cool experience.”
Other reviews were similar to those of Meramec student Daniel Garcia, who said it was one of the best experiences of his life. Parent Anna Price also said it was an unforgettable experience that her family will treasure forever. Experiences like this were exactly the intention of Myers.
“We want to provide our students with premiere experiences that change their life,” Myers said. “Our goals are high at STLCC because the students deserve it.”