St. Mary's College Choir set to perform at Carnegie Hall

MORAGA, Calif. (KTVU) -- A group of Bay Area college students held their final rehearsal Tuesday night as prepare to head off to perform in one of the most prestigious concert venues in the county.

Passion, versatility and hard work are being credited for getting St. Mary's College Choir national and international recognition.

The 34 students who make up the choir can sing a wide range of material stretching from the classics to contemporary pop.

Their voices are their instruments and their passion a tool to tell the story

"Singing is a way to express myself. It's a way to give to the audience. Show them what you love," said sophomore choral singer Marissa Cabatingan.

For many , music is not their major, but still key in their overall education.

The students say their ability to incorporate dance into their song strengthens their ability to communicate with their audience. Mastering the art of singing in unison with others is also instrumental to their success.

"To have that intimate connection with 33 other people for me is the most amazing aspect of performance," said choir member Michael Blackburn, a junior.

They say singing in a choir is about blend, balance and tone.

"You have to make sure you're matching the person next to you. And you have to make sure the other soprano on the other end, that you're matching their vowels -- their technique -- so you can sound as a whole," said sophomore Bryce Cloke.

The musical talents of these students won them two gold medals last summer in Latvia. That's where they caught the eye of a producer from Carnegie Hall.

A short while after their award winning performance came the invitation to take the stage at Carnegie Hall.

"To be on that stage and showcase our talents is extremely gratifying," said senior choir member Emily Wallace.

They credit that opportunity to their ability to evoke emotion in their audiences and their teacher whom they describe as transformative.

"When you're dealing with music, it's mind, body, spirt. All three all the time," said teacher and choir director Julie Ford.

Now these students hope they will captivate their audience at Carnegie Hall.

"Being in a community with other singers with great talent is something really special," said Catbatingan.

The choir flies to New York City Wednesday and is scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall Saturday night.