ALTOONA, Pa. — It’s pretty much every singer’s dream to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Members of Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside Pride choral group will have that opportunity in March at a Masterworks Festival Chorus event.
In 2023, Professor of Music Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber received the Penn State Alumni Association Teaching Fellow Award, which comes with a $10,000 grant for a teaching project.
As director of Ivyside Pride, Cutsforth-Huber said she immediately knew she wanted to do something special for the group.
“The pandemic was difficult for everyone, but singers were hit particularly hard," Cutsforth-Huber said. "Anyone who wanted to continue singing had to do so through a computer screen. The group energy and collaboration were gone... I wanted to do something that would reinvigorate both the students and the excitement for the arts at Penn State Altoona.”
Supported by Manhattan Concert Productions, the Masterwork Series offers qualified ensembles the opportunity to collaborate on a major work with a renowned guest instructor and the New York City Chamber Orchestra. Ivyside Pride performed at Masterworks Festivals in 2012, 2014 and 2017. Familiar with the enriching musical and cultural performance opportunities the festival provides, it was exactly what Cutsforth-Huber wanted for her singers.
Ivyside Pride was accepted for the 2024 performance calendar based on a recording Cutsforth-Huber submitted. With a significant portion of their travel expenses, accommodations and registration fees covered by the Teaching Fellow award grant, students will head to the city for three days of intense rehearsals before the March 11 performance.
Geography major Clarissa Styer said being in Ivyside Pride is an honor for her, and she is thrilled for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“We are like a close-knit family, and I am excited and grateful for the privilege of experiencing this journey with Doc [Cutsforth-Huber] and everyone in Ivyside Pride,” Styer said.
Ivyside Pride will join with a variety of ensembles from across the country to perform “Sunrise Mass” by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, guest conducted by Eric Posada.
“They will have the opportunity to sing in what is arguably the greatest concert hall in the world with a world-class orchestra,” Cutsforth-Huber said. “This is something that professional musicians dream about, and my students will have this opportunity while they are in college. How amazing is that?”