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20160509-carnegie-hallPhoto by Ching at Creative Commons Flickr

FC Ensemble went to New York to perform at the historic, Carnegie Hall.

His family lost everything, twice. Working in a failing business of hand weaving linen, the Carnegie’s were forced to move away from their Scottish home in Dunfermline to the Americas in search of a new life. After arriving in America, the Carnegie’s attempted to run a weaving business, but failed again.

Eventually, Andrew Carnegie took on a job as a bobbin boy at the age of 13. Andrew worked from morning till night carrying cylinders of yarn to the workers operating looms. By the age of 14, he took on a job as a messenger for a telegraph company. After purchasing shares and taking over the first sleeping rail car in the United States, Carnegie began gathering assets and building Carnegie Steel Corporation.

Even today, Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic career is still touching people from around the world. Last year, the FC ensemble ladies were invited to sing at Carnegie Hall by winning a Gold Medal at the Heritage Festival in Anaheim. The ladies boarded their flight to New York on April 26 to sing at Carnegie Hall.

After building his steel empire, Andrew Carnegie sold his business to J.P. Morgan for 480 million dollars in 1901. That transaction made Carnegie the richest man in the world. After Carnegie sold his business, he turned to philanthropy and began giving all of his money away to charity.

In Carnegie’s philanthropic career, he founded many libraries and institutions, including Carnegie Hall. Built in 1891, the music hall came about through an idea proposed to Carnegie while he was traveling to Scotland for his honeymoon during the spring of 1887.

Carnegie Hall consists of three performance spaces, Zankel Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage and Weill Recital Hall. The largest hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage seats 2,804 in five curvilinear levels. Seating 268, The Weill Recital Hall is where many young musicians make their first musical appearance in New York. Built in 2003, Zankel Hall seats 599.

Along with the performance halls, Carnegie Hall also contains the Rose Museum, Resnick Education Wing and various over rooms. The Rose Museum exhibits historical pieces from Carnegie Hall’s history. The Resnick Education allows professional artists to produce music and also teach NYC students and community members about music.

Taking AP US History, Cate Vander Kooi, ’18, liked that Andrew Carnegie donated all of his money to charity. However Vander Kooi considers Carnegie a robber baron because of his tactics and his way of running his business.

“I think Carnegie Hall represents musical generations because of how far it goes back to,” Vander Kooi  said. “Obviously, Carnegie Hall was founded by Andrew Carnegie back in the industrial age. I think Carnegie was a robber baron because of how competitive he was and some of the tactics he used were ruthless. I like that he donated a lot of his wealth to charity, I think that’s pretty cool. Carnegie helped the American economy, by transforming the steel industry which contributed to lots of other businesses.”

20160509-carnegie-hall-002Photo by Veni at Creative Commons Flickr

Carnegie Hall has had many critically acclaimed musicians perform on its stage.

Celeste Counts is a member of FC ensemble that traveled to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall. Counts enjoyed singing at Carnegie and was inspired by Andrew Carnegie story of success.

“Carnegie Hall inspired me because it was built for fine arts to be performed in it and there isn’t any place like it in America,” Counts said. “Carnegie Hall for sure opened my eyes to really how much money those big business men actually had. It’s crazy to think someone who went into the business of steel with the American Dream and had that much success is insane to me. His story is very inspiring to me. Nowadays people don’t have huge success stories like he did.”

The director of  ensemble, Susan Ainley was excited to be have the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall. Though some of the older ensemble members have been invited in the past, this was the first year the ensemble successfully raised to enough money to make the trip to New York.

I do think that anyone who knows anything about music, thinks about Carnegie Hall as the biggest performance of your life,” Ainley said. “If you can make it to Carnegie Hall, that basically means that your at the top of your game. Singing at the hall itself was kind of like a religious experience. We all got the feels and looked around and said, “We are actually here.” You just kept reminding yourself that you are here and singing. It was just one of those moments.”

Eight hours later, the ladies walked out of the New York airport. The ladies began their adventure at the Rockefeller Building. While there, they viewed the city and then went to the Rockefeller Center. Five days later, after visiting and touring many other attractions, the ladies traveled to Carnegie Hall to perform.

The ladies performed seven songs including, Ballad to the moon, To thee we sing, “The Shaker Song”, “The Pilgrim Song”, “Nothing Gonna Stumble”, “Here is Where I Stand” and “Shenandoah.” The ladies sang at the Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, May 1.

To read another feature, read Celeste Counts shares experience as pastor’s daughter, story of adoption.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @_samuel_cross_ and via email: Sam Cross

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