The recent Irish Heritage festival held at City Hall in Manhattan, sponsored by City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, proved to be a great day for the chorus from PS 174 in Rego Park and the Irish honorees as the young vocalists sang their hearts out to a welcoming audience.
The chorus is led by the school’s talented music director, Kathleen Desvigne, who not only leads the singing, but also accompanies the students on her keyboard.
The chorus, comprised of 50 students from the second, third and sixth grades, was invited to this special tribute by the United Federation of Teachers whose director of legislation/political action and COPE, Thomas Murphy, was honored during the evening.
Prior to departure for City Hall, the students rehearsed their performance in the gym of the school.
Jamie, a sixth grader, said she was excited because she thought the mayor might attend the event.
“This is a once in a lifetime happening,” said Andrea, another sixth grader. She said the invitation made her feel “special” and added that this was her last year with the group.
“I never thought I’d get to sing there,” said sixth grader, Monica. “I’m just overwhelmed that the group of us are going.”
Jamio, a sixth grader who has sung with the chorus since kindergarten, said the best part was “the recognition” adding, “it’s really cool. I’m happy to go.”
Agatha, another sixth grader, said all the members of this chorus are “good friends,” which makes it “very special.”
Deborah, also a sixth grader, said this would be her first time at City Hall. Deborah said besides the chorus she sings in her church choir at the Korean Church of Queens.
John, who has been with the group for two years, said he was “a little nervous” about the event. But Steven, a second grader, assured him “it will be fun.” He said he has been in live shows before and “it was great.”
Second grader Austin said he also hadn’t been to City Hall before, but was looking forward to it.
Jeremy, a sixth grader said, “It’s unbelievable that we were picked out of so many other groups. We’ve worked hard for this.”
Second grader Dana said, besides the performance, she enjoys the opportunity to “learn different songs from all over.”
Faisha, a sixth grader, praised her teacher. “She knows us. She works with us and she doesn’t push too hard. She finds the best voices.”
“She also helps us when we make mistakes. I tried out for the chorus and didn’t think I’d make it. I’m glad I did,” said sixth grader Kenny.
“Ms. Desvigne gives us confidence and encourages us to do better,” sixth grader Nicholas said.
“She takes the time to help us,” added Jeremy.
Ester, from the sixth grade, said she’s learned how to “maintain a long note.”
Sixth grader Monica said Ms. Desvigne helped her learn to sing, “not yell” a song.
Michelle, a second grader, admits she thought being in the chorus would be “boring,” but soon learned “it was fun.”
Caitlin, a sixth grader, said she’s learned about harmony and singing with others through the chorus.
Sixth grader Michele said she was amazed at how well the chorus does at the performances. “Our hard work pays off,” she said.
Andrea, a sixth grader, said she appreciates how Ms. Desvigne “plays the piano and puts the music together.”
“She’s taught me not to give up even when I make a mistake,” said Sara Lynn, a sixth grader. She also sings at her church, Emanuel Church in Astoria.
“I just can’t stop singing,” said Kseniya, a sixth grader.
Allen, a sixth grader who claims to have a “squeaky voice” said he has learned to control it and “really let it out.”
Alba, a sixth grader, said she thought singing was “very easy” before joining the group. “Now I know it is really hard work and a lot of practice.”
While some of the students have had singing lessons outside of the chorus, most just have a natural talent developed by the teacher.
“We’re limited because we don’t have a music program,” Ms. Desvigne explained. But the students meet every week and more often when invited to special performances like this one.
She said she is appreciative that the principal, Mr. Bett, “is very supportive” of the chorus.
Despite the last minute feelings of stage fright, the students made their debut at City Hall and left a lasting impression on everyone.