New York City Choir TripChris Forsythe
The City that never sleeps! The Big Apple! It’s like no other city in the world—giant skyscrapers, world-famous attractions, fabulous museums, marvelous restaurants, exclusive shops, don’t miss performances at Lincoln Center, and spectacular Broadway shows! A renewed spirit of energy and vitality rings throughout America’s largest city—one of the world’s greatest destinations! You just can’t go wrong with a New York City trip. Here’s a look at the Big Apple, following in the footsteps of our friends from the Bismarck High School Choir of Bismarck, North Dakota. As the title photo shows, the trip’s highlight was singing the National Anthem to kick-off a New York Mets vs. Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. You have to be at the top of your game when performing for New Yorkers, and the Bismarck students knocked it out of the park on their first-ever New York City Choir trip!
Deciding what to visit from all the choices New York offers is tough, but Bismarck stepped up to the challenge. First came the performances – Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Mets game – then the shows – “Aladdin” and “Wicked” – next a music and dance workshop based on “Aladdin” – and, of course, plenty of sightseeing and shopping!
Meeting their Music Travel Tour Director at school on Sunday evening, the group loaded its motor coach for the overnight ride to Minneapolis. Boarding an early morning non-stop flight to New York City, the group arrived in Manhattan just in time for lunch and its first chance to stare up at those tall, mid-town buildings. Then it was off to Chinatown and Little Italy, to sample two great neighborhoods, bustling with activity, color, delicious smells and a raucous cacophony of commerce and community. After souvenir shopping on Mott, Bayard and Mulberry streets, the group went back uptown for dinner at the Hard Rock Café on Times Square. Following a good dinner, the group checked in at the Embassy Suites Hotel in New Jersey, its comfortable home for the next five nights. A good night’s sleep never felt so good!
Tuesday morning, the group had a quick breakfast at the hotel and loaded its coach. It was time to capture the pace and feel the throb of the great city, New York. Personable local guides took Bismarck from Midtown to the Upper West Side, then to Harlem and Central Park, where the choir treated the public to an impromptu performance at Bethesda Terrace! Next, the guides continued to the Upper East Side, Lincoln Center, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Fifth Avenue. Ending the tour at magnificent Grand Central Station, the Bismarck choir learned the station’s history and got to have lunch at its choice of markets and restaurants and food stands. Fifth Avenue shopping was next, and the choir strolled past decorated store windows and landmarks like Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Trump Tower, F.A.O. Schwartz, the Apple Store, and the Plaza Hotel. The choir arrived at historic and famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. to sing in its first official concert.
After a stellar performance, the choir chowed-down at Texas Barbecue on chicken and ribs with all the fixin’s before heading back to Broadway. With just one rub of a magic lamp, “Aladdin’s” journey swept Bismarck into an exotic world full of daring adventure, classic comedy, and timeless romance. The unforgettable experience included all the cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning score, plus more written especially for Broadway! After a great show, the choir headed back to its hotel for some shut-eye before another day of adventure.
Breakfast at the hotel started the day on Wednesday, and soon the choir was off to an exciting day in New York. Bismarck High School Choir was in for a treat at its Movement & Music workshop, led by professional Broadway singers and dancers. Learning and rehearsing choreography and music from the show they had seen the night before, “Aladdin,” the choir’s clinicians addressed musical theater’s three major elements…acting, singing, and dancing.
After the workshop, the group grabbed a quick lunch and headed for the American Museum of Natural History, one of the most famous attractions in New York City. Spread over several city blocks, its collections are fascinating and interesting to all ages. But the choir didn’t have time for a ‘night at the museum’ – it had to go directly to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets Baseball Club, to warm-up prior to singing the National Anthem to start the game. Afterward, the choir watched the pros and feasted on ball-park food, before returning to the hotel after a fun day!
Leaving the hotel after breakfast Thursday, the choir’s first stop was the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 (World Trade Center, Pentagon, Shanksville, PA) and to the six people killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The names of all persons who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed in the paneling edging the two reflecting pools, within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The museum, underground, houses many artifacts. Altogether, the memorial is a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life caused by a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
Next, the group ascended to the top of One World Observatory, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, overlooking Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial. Surveying New York, its suburbs, buildings, waterways and streets, its impossible not to feel the invincible spirit of the city and its people. The views at the top of One World are incredible. Descending to street level, the group picked up a box lunch and boarded the ferry for the ride across New York Harbor to the Statue of Liberty. After visiting the pedestal exhibits and learning about Lady Liberty, the Bismarck High School Choir presented a free public concert to appreciative visitors.
Returning to Battery Park on the ferry, and heading uptown by coach, a major problem arose. A massive traffic snarl ensnared the coach, fatally delaying the choir’s arrival for a pre-show supper with cast members from “Wicked.” By the time the group reached the restaurant, cast members had departed to meet call times. The students and adults still had a good meal, but the MTC Tour Director, sensing everyone’s keen disappointment in missing the interaction with cast members, decided to make the situation right, later in the trip. After dinner, group members shopped and enjoyed the crowds in Times Square before returning to the hotel and bed.
Friday morning, the choir visited a New York treasure, Radio City Music Hall. Taking the backstage tour, Bismarck went “behind the scenes” at the home of the world-famous Rockettes! The group learned about the Great Stage and saw the mighty Wurlitzer organs, plus several rehearsal halls, in America’s greatest showplace! Conveniently ending the tour in Rockefeller Center, “A City Within A City,” the students and adults explored the ice rink, tunnels, and shops in and around the 12 skyscrapers that fill the complex. After lunch, the choir visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Operating since 1870, the museum houses more than two million works of art from all over the world, ancient through modern times. Its collection is fantastic, truly a national treasure.
Next came time for some serious shopping in the Times Square neighborhood. From diamonds and fine art to the latest fashions and electronics, New York has it all, including a Disney store and an outpost of Hershey’s Chocolate. After conquering Times Square, it was time for a nice supper at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. In addition to Ellen’s good food, the waiters and waitresses sang, danced and entertained the group (which was fair since Bismarck had entertained countless New Yorkers in the past week!).
All of a sudden, it was time for the group’s last Broadway show: “Wicked.” Set long before Dorothy dropped in, two girls met in the land of Oz. One, Elphaba, born with emerald-green skin, was smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other was beautiful, ambitious and very popular. “Wicked’s” story tells how these two unlikely friends grew up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch.
When the show ended, the MTC Tour Director unveiled his surprise, holding the group back while the rest of the patrons departed the theatre. That’s when several “Wicked” cast members walked out on stage, beckoning the students forward to the Q & A and interaction missed the night before. Engaged and engaging, everyone had a great session at this final, memorable trip treat!
On Saturday, after breakfast, Choir Director Brian Saylor and the Bismarck High School Choir returned safely home with memories that will last for years to come!
“Our experience with Music Travel Consultants was the best travel experience we have had. Chris Forsythe and the team took care of every detail. The trip was a trip of a lifetime for my students and chaperones. The attention to detail and efficiency was amazing. Everything from the kick-off meeting, attention to our wants and needs, customizing our itinerary, accounting, billing, and especially the customer care was top notch. I can’t wait to take my next MTC trip!”
Why not contact Music Travel Consultants to start planning your trip New York City!