Heading out the door to a choir rehearsal, the telephone rang. It would have been easier to let it go to voicemail, but, Christy Conduff, Music Director of the New Mexico Peace Choir, is very glad she stopped to answer. On the other end of the line came a request from Distinguished Concerts Singers International for New Mexico Peace Choir to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City!
Every musician knows of Carnegie Hall. The prestigious venue is renowned for hosting the world’s most-talented musicians and orators throughout its storied 117-year history. A surprised Conduff listened as she was told NMPC was contacted at the personal request of composer Patrick Hawes, who will be conducting a full symphony orchestra and 200 voice multi-national choir as his piece The Great War Symphony debuts its U.S. premiere on the Carnegie stage November 11.
The piece marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I “the war to end all wars.” It was written as a tribute, to be sure all those who suffered due to that war are not forgotten. Appropriately, the concert coincides with Veterans Day observances.
Dr. Jonathan Griffith, Artistic Director of DCINY, explained, “New Mexico Peace Choir received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers.”
In its short three-year existence, the 80-member NMPC has become widely recognized throughout New Mexico and internationally, following concerts in Europe in 2017. It is considered the largest peace choir in the U.S. with members from throughout central New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, the East Mountains, Placitas, Rio Rancho, Belen and Los Lunas.
From black tie and turquoise on the concert stage to casual teal shirts in the outdoors, NMPC seeks to bring their music and message to all audiences. While in Manhattan, NMPC performers plan to flash mob in Central Park and Times Square to share their joy.
NMPC just completed several concerts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, thrilling more than 2,000 attendees. They will soon be performing at the “Journalism Under Fire” conference in Santa Fe on December 4; and at the Round House in Santa Fe to open the 2019 Legislative Session.
It seems in current times that the message NMPC spreads is much-needed, and the choir is being sought out in ways Conduff never imagined. She is clearly grateful for the opportunities she and her fellow performers are being given, even while she is amazed by them.
“I never thought this choir would become so big,” said Conduff, as she added with a chuckle, “Not sure I’d have had the courage to do it, if I thought so.”
Conduff notes that she is a musician, and the business of funding travel for an 80-member choir to far-flung performances, like Carnegie Hall, is daunting. In fact, the members going to New York each paid their $3,000 expense personally. That is not a sustainable model, so NMPC hopes to raise funds through donations, sponsors, and sales of their upcoming CD which will be out in time for holiday gift-giving. More information on NMPC and to help support their mission, can be found at: NewMexicoPeaceChoir.org.
By Linda Burke