West High Choir Travels to New York City



I had an experience of a lifetime as the West High Choir and I took an eventful trip to the Big Apple from Feb. 27 to March 3 to tour and sing in the city. It was definitely a trip I will never forget. While I was there, I grew in awe with the grand city and the busy atmosphere. Moreover, this trip made me extremely grateful to be a member of the choir family.

It all began Thursday night, Feb. 27. The choir meet in the school’s parking lot and left for the city around 7:30pm. Ten hours later, the bus finally arrived in New York City. The first view of the city was very welcoming: a gorgeous sunset over the New York skyline. It truly was a beautiful vison and a great way to start our trip. Our first stop was at Grand Central Station. There was so much detail in there! One of my favorite details was the ceiling of the station. It showed some of the sun sign figures outlined in gold against a teal background.

The ceiling of Grand Central Station displays the astrology signs defined in gold.

Next, the choir went on a tour of the city. One of most interesting sights was the dock where the Titanic would have disembarked if it had ever sank. We also stopped at Alexander Hamilton’s grave site and the site where the Twin Towers once stood. In addition to this, we visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. It was a downhearted but honorable place. The museum did an excellent job at capturing the horrible events that happened on that historic day. It made me take a step back and honor those that lost their lives and learn to cherish life all the more. I would definitely add the museum to anyone’s New York bucket list.

Moreover, the choir shopped around in Times Square. One of the coolest parts about Times Square was seeing the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve ball that drops every New Year. Surprising, it is way smaller in real life compared to the way it looks on TV!

The choir stops for a group picture at Times Square, the place where the New Year ball drops every New Year.

Photo from Shawn Salley, trip chaperone.

After this eventful first day, I think everyone was looking forward to the rest of our time in the city.

On day two, the choir visited the Statue of Liberty. I mean, you cannot go to New York and not go there! I had seen the monument plenty of times before in pictures and movies, but it was remarkable to see Lady Liberty herself in person. A little later, the choir set up to sing a variety of patriotic songs. Altogether we sang a total of five songs: This Land is Your Land, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, God Bless America, and The Star Spangled Banner. It was a really fun experience!

The iconic Statue of Liberty stands tall on Liberty Island.

After that, we grabbed some lunch and then headed to Chinatown. It was such an interesting place and it honestly felt like I was in China! Later that afternoon, we went to the Knicks vs Bulls game. I was not a fan of either team, so I decided to pull for the Knicks. In the end, the Knicks was able to win over the Bulls with a final score of 125 to 115. It was my first time watching a NBA game in person that I hope to do again in the future.

One of the New York Knicks shoots for a free throw during the Saturday night game against the Chicago Bulls.

The next day, we began our day by going to Central Park. It was such a charming park, full of runners and plenty of dogs. One of the most exciting parts of the park was seeing the fountain from the hit television show Friends. We even sang the theme song from the show while we were there!

The West-High choir strikes a pose at the fountain from Friends in Central Park.

Picture from Shawn Salley, trip chaperone.

After the park, the choir toured Radio City Music Hall. This auditorium is famous for hosting several concerts and the Rockettes every year. It opened back in 1932, and the whole building brought me back to the past. One of the tour highlights was getting to go on the actual stage. Apparently this special event only happens thirty-three days out of the entire year!

Members of the choir explore the Radio City stage- a special event that does not happen on every tour.

Photo from Shawn Salley, trip chaperone.

When it seemed like the tour could not get any better, our tour guide surprised us with a special guest: one of the Rockettes herself! My favorite part of the tour, however, was when we were lead into a dome roofed room. Knowing how great the acoustics were, our tour guide invited us to sing. We decided on Amazing Grace and it sounded amazing. It was such a simple yet beautiful part of our tour.

That afternoon, we went to the Broadway show Wicked. For those curious, Wicked tells the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the Wet, Elphaba, before the events of Wizard of Oz. This was my first ever Broadway show, and I was never a huge fan of Wizard of Oz, so I had no idea what to expect. The show did not disappoint, however. In fact, it was so fantastic I feel like I could watch it a million more times! It gives you a totally different outlook on the movie. For anyone wanting to go to New York, I would highly recommend going to see Wicked or any other Broadway show.

On the last day in the city, we departed for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine to perform some spirituals songs. While we were there we performed Gloria In Excelsis Deo by Kevin A. Memley and Muusika by Pärt Uusberg. The acapella groups, SOS and Sensations, performed If You Love Me, Keep my Commandments. Then, the men’s acapella group sang There Will be No Sorrow There, while the ladies sang a special version of Amazing Grace. To finish off our performance, the entire choir joined back together to sing Give Me Jesus. It was such an honor to stand in such a marvelous place and sing with my choir family. It was without a doubt a one in a lifetime experience. To check out our performance on YouTube feel free to click here!

An inside look at the extraordinary detail inside the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

After a delicious lunch, we ended our trip by going to the Top of the Rock Observatory at the Rockefeller Center. From the top you could see the entire city of New York. It was a mind-blowing sight to see!

New York City viewed from the Top of the Rock Observatory.

As we walked the streets of New York one last time, I was overcome with thankfulness that I was able to not only go on this trip, but partake in many experiences of a lifetime. At the end of it all, I am so grateful for my wonderful family that allowed me to go on the trip and the blessing to be a part of choir. I want to also thank Mrs. Bowen, along with every tour guide and bus driver that enabled us to have the best experience in the city. Most of all, I want to thank God for this amazing opportunity that I will surely cherish in my heart forever.

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