Carnegie concert: Alumna’s dream comes true

To sing in Carnegie Hall is an honor, no matter what musical genre an artist represents. One John Brown University alumna had a taste of that privilege on April 1, as the result of a random Google search.

Tori Mick, a 2010 graduate, looked up the phrase “sing with Eric Whitacre” last summer hoping to find a clinic with him. Instead, she discovered an audition opportunity to sing as part of a Distinguished Concerts Singers International event, This Shining Night. The concert was conducted by Whitacre with piano accompaniment by Morten Lauridsen and included music composed by both of them.

After submitting a YouTube video as her audition, Mick found out in December that she had been accepted to join the group of 400-600 singers from around the globe. Mick filled the last spot for second sopranos.

She said she was naturally excited when she heard the news. She was thrilled to have the chance to sing under the direction of Whitacre and with Lauridsen playing. Students at the University use Lauridsen’s music to learn conducting, she said, so she was familiar with his work.

Mick described Whitacre as the “rock star of the choral world” and as someone who is big in the University’s music department. According to his website, he is “one of the most popular and performed composers of our time,” who writes classical pieces which have been widely acclaimed.

Mick said that singing with the University’s Cathedral Choir had prepared her well for singing on this level because of the high standard to which members are held. The training she had from that helped her with the musical nuances and the diction required to sing well, especially in foreign languages.

As a result, rehearsing with the group in New York did not seem hard, Mick said. “Whitacre is a fun man,” she continued. “He enjoys making music and he wants other people to enjoy it too.”

There was some pressure at the rehearsal because of the high caliber of the group, and Mick said she was more nervous than excited about the concert. The participants for the concert had formed a Facebook group. There, they talked about their struggles with the music throughout the process of memorizing it ahead of time, Mick said.

“The hall itself is breathtaking and the history behind it is even greater. The sound is just amazing,” Mick reflected after the concert.

She was thankful to have the chance to do this, because it is the sort of opportunity she did not expect to have after graduating college. Since her graduation as a worship ministries major, Mick has worked at a couple of churches in Texas.

Having a concert such as this on her resume will hopefully help her have more job opportunities, Mick said. “Churches often do not like hiring young adults, but this may show that I am dedicated to music,” she continued.

Mick would like to eventually return to school for her master’s degree, teach at the college level or write a book. She wants to make people more aware of the ways in which music is a tool and a language.

“Music is a part of worship, but it is not all-encompassing of everything that worship has to offer,” she said.

“I would just like to encourage students at the University to pursue what it is they want,” Mick said. “I took a chance on an internet search, and it worked out well for me!”