There’s an old saying: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.”
That’s partly true.
You also need money.
And that’s what the Florence Men’s Choral Society is hoping the community can help with.
On Nov. 19, the FMCS will host its annual fundraising dinner and concert to raise money for underprivileged youth interested in music. But there will also be opportunities for the public to help with the getting the choir to travel in January to the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the invitation only Distinguished Concerts International series.
“It’s one of those things that I have on our (FMCS’s) bucket list,” FMCS founder and artistic director Julian Young said.
It will be a memorable experience for the choir, albeit one that comes at a hefty price. Less than half of the 25 member choir are able to go due to the expense. In all the group is hoping to raise the almost $9,000 needed to attend.
During the free concert Tuesday, there will be a special collection in hopes of raising some of the money. Until the money is raised, choir members are having to dig into their own pockets.
“We’re basically paying out of our own pocket individually at the moment,” Young said. “The money that has been raised is being spread around the members going.”
The idea of going to Carnegie Hall was pretty far down the bucket list until six months ago when Young got a call inviting the FMCS.
“I put it down on the list because I’d heard there were ways to get invited to go there. One phone call changed all that and put it at the top of our list,” he said.
Matt Oltman, one of the organizers for the festival, saw a video of FMCS on YouTube.
“I couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘You are exactly the kind of group we’re looking for and we want you,’” Young said. “I told the guys, ‘This is the time, we have to do do this.’ We are the only male organization in the Pee Dee that have ever been invited to Carnegie Hall. We’re not professional but we’ve worked hard enough to be recognized. This is a great opportunity to be ambassadors for the Pee Dee.”
As fate would have it, one of the songs the choir is set to sing at Carnegie — “The Testament of Freedom” — is also a song that will be performed Tuesday night. It was part of their planned repertoire already and is a collection of writings of Thomas Jefferson with music by Randall Thompson.
The concert Tuesday night features patriotic freedom songs from all over the world including a selection from the musical “Les Miserables” and arrangements of “America” and the “Star Spangled Banner” with an accompanying orchestra. The concert starts promptly at 7:30 pm in the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary, 700 Park Avenue, Florence, following dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center.
Tickets to the dinner are $30 for adults, $25 for senior citizens and $20 for students. Tables are $250, seating eight.
WANT TO HELP?
To make a donation to the Carnegie Hall trip, make checks payable to FMCS and write New York on the memo line and mail to 1106 S. Edisto Dr., Florence, 29501, or P.O. Box 7258.