Indiana State University Newsroom

Music students ready to perform at Lincoln Center

April 7, 2014

 A group of Indiana State students will be embarking on a trip of a lifetime as they board a bus on April 8.

The Sycamores, along with 21 students from Terre Haute South Vigo High School, will travel to New York City for a performance April 12 at the famed Lincoln Center.

Twenty-three Indiana State students will sing alongside 80 other students from three Indiana high school choirs - including Terre Haute South's Chamber Singers - as part of a mass choir conducted by Scott Buchanan, director of choral activities for the Indiana State School of Music.

"I am truly honored to have been invited to conduct in Alice Tully Hall. It is one of America's finest concert venues. And to be able to share the experience with some of our students is a thrill," said Buchanan.

The performance is a unique opportunity for students and educators alike. The Terre Haute South and Cathedral High School choirs are directed by Indiana State alumni. The Elkhart Memorial choir was the training ground for three of Buchanan's current students at Indiana State.

For Terre Haute South choir director and ISU alumnus Paul Ellison it is an opportunity for his students to have a defining experience by performing at a world-class venue.

"I am grateful to Dr. Scott Buchanan for inviting us to participate in such a worthwhile endeavor," Ellison said. "Several of my students have not had the opportunity to travel very far away from home, so this is a very big deal to them. "

That experience is shared by some of Buchanan's students.

Trenton Baker, a freshman music performance major from Martinsville, said the trip is a dream come true.

"I never thought I'd have the opportunity to perform in such a venue as this," Baker said. "I can definitely cross that off my bucket list."

For Baker, whose childhood dream was to perform on Broadway, it's more than just performing on stage.

"This will give me a taste of how the business works and what the city is all about! I am also seeing a Broadway show each night I am in town and so I am hoping to learn so much from seeing those three shows," he said.

Like Baker, Caitlin Barnaby is excited about her first visit to New York City.

"This trip is such a great opportunity for students to expand their minds and experience new things in new places! I never thought I would be fulfilling this kind of dream while I was a student. I am so excited!"

Barnaby, a junior music performance major from Terre Haute and a Terre Haute South alumna, is looking forward to singing in a large ensemble.

"I thought 40 students was a lot, but this time we will be working with about 100 people," she said "I'm really excited because my high school choir is going as well!"

The Indiana State students have been working with the musical selections for a number of months. Among the works the combined choirs will perform are Christiansen's "Praise to the Lord;" Ames' "In Remembrance," featuring music education major Sean Carey on violin; Mechem's "Blow Ye the Trumpet" and Dandridge's "Rockin' Jerusalem."

"We have been singing some of this music since the beginning of the school year and a lot of this is material we have been working on during our class periods," said Elinor Balensuela, a junior English major.

Choir members performed four works at their Spring concert at the end of March.

"We know all of the songs that are being performed, we just have to put our voices together with the other three schools that are singing with us," Baker added.

There's a lot that goes into a performance like this, according to Buchanan.

"Not only have students had to learn the material, they have had to fundraise for this opportunity," he said, adding the University funded a portion of this trip.

At first, Baker thought money was going to stand in the way of his dream.

"I setup a "GoFundMe" account and sent that to my hometown and other important people in my life," Baker said. "Fortunately, I received enough donations to cover expenses."

Barnaby tried social media for fundraising, but didn't have success. She decided to invest in herself - paying her own way from money she had saved from working.

"It was worth it. This is such a great opportunity," she added.

The students are also working ahead in their other classes so they don't fall behind as finals week looms.

Both Baker and Barnaby put in extra hours to get all assignments turned in before leaving on April 8. Other will fit in classwork to their schedule.

"I'll be doing a lot of reading while we're there," Balensuela said. "Luckily I have amazing professors who are more than willing to help me along while I'm away."

Balensuela is one of the few students who have experienced New York City.

"I went once with my high school choir in 2009 and my father is actually from New York, so I've been several times with him," she said.

But this trip is different.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the city as an adult," Balensuela said. "Having the opportunity to stand where so many other great musicians have stood and performed is such an experience that I doubt I will ever be able to replicate."


Contact: Scott Buchanan, Director of Choral Activities, School of Music, 812-237-4590

Writer: Paula Meyer, Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or