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Singing at Carnegie Hall

By: Kevin Hamilton
One of the ultimate venues for a singer or musician to perform in the United States is Carnegie Hall, on the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City.

2006 IPHS grad Erin House will get the chance in December, as a member of the TCU Symphonic Choir, and together with the New York Pops under the direction of Doc Severinsen.

Talking with her recently about the upcoming trip, it’s hard to decide which she is most excited about – singing in this prestigous event Dec. 14 and 15 at Carnegie Hall – or taking her first-ever plane ride to New York City.

“It’s pretty exciting!” she exclaimed during a break from her first semester at the Fort Worth university, where she is majoring in religion with a minor in music. “I’ve never been to New York City. I’ve never even been on an airplane!”

Erin, the daughter of Gary and Diane House of Iowa Park, had dreamed of attending TCU since her sopohomore year at IPHS. “So it was definitely a thrill of a lifetime to get the acceptance letter,” she exclaimed with eyes lit, and an infectuous smile.

When she auditioned for her music minor with TCU choir director Ronald Shirey, he asked if she would be interested in joining the TCU Chorale, the most prestigious choir at TCU. “Of course I accepted,” she said. “I was like, of course! This is exactly what I want to do!”

A few weeks later, Erin found out she would be going to New York City to perform with Doc Severinsen and the New York Pops in an annual series that started in 1993 with TCU Symphonic Choir, in affiliation with University Christian Church Choir, combining to sing several numbers with the Pops.

“I had to do this by myself,” she said of travel arrangements. “Go online to buy my own ticket. Then they told me I would have to get a taxi ride from the airport to the Wellington (hotel)! I was like, I’ve never done this before either!”

Once at the hotel, Erin feels she’ll be just fine.”I’ll just be clinging to the rest of the choral group,” she said, adding that it totals over 70 members.

Asked what her college experience has been like so far, Erin answered, “It’s been a different animal. I wasn’t used to having to be so on-target with my music, and learn it by myself.”

“In A Capella (high school with Mrs. Fisher) you learned it in class and sang it in class.”

“In choral (at TCU), you get the music, you go through it and sightread it, and then take it home if you don’t get it,” she said. “And he (Shirey) expects you to be perfect. So you have to be completely on-target to go up to his standards.”

“Shirey is a good guy,” Erin added. “But he is strict. And if you aren’t up to his standards, he tells you.”

Erin, who hopes one day to become a youth minister, is involved with several on-campus organizations, including Invisible Children, a support group for the child soldiers in Sudan.

“We are raising money to get their schools in better shape,” she said. “I’m really proud of that one.”

Erin and roommate Kayla Bankhead of Sweeny are also forming a girls rugby team.

“We met in Frog Camp,” Erin said of her introduction to Bankhead at the freshman orientation. “We are just like sisters, and we’ve really gotten gung ho into this rubgy thing. We want to get it up and running by the spring semester.”

“I’ve never been one of those athletic people,” she continued. “But once I hit college, I thought, hmmm, rugby.”

They have attracted five other players, needing eight more for the 15-player squad in order to compete in the spring against teams from Baylor, UT, Texas A&M, and the University of Houston.

Away from home for the first time, Erin misses impromptu conversations with her family and friends.

“I’ve always been close to home, and having my parents to lean on,” she said. “Now I’m on my own, with my roomate, and a boyfriend who is from Fort Worth. It’s definitely different than what I’m used to.”

“After my religion classes expecially, I just want to pick up the phone and call dad and say, ‘Heh, guess what?’ ... but it’s difficult because I’m always on the run.”

On Mondays, for instance, she is in class from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

“Not much of a chance to chill out that day,” she laughed.

As for her future aspirations as a youth minister, Erin feels her music instruction will expand her offering. “I really hope I can intertwine my minor (vocal performance) to be a youth minister,” she said. “I don’t know how practical that is, but it is one of my dreams.”

And asked what went through her mind when she heard she would get to perform at Carnegie Hall, Erin said, “That it was hard to get into as a performer. Classy. And only the best get to sing there. It is amazing to be able to perform there.”

Making the trip this December to New York City will be Erin’s mother, Diane, and seventh-grade sister, Sara.

Sara, like Erin, will be taking her first trip on a plane.

Bets are on who squeals the loudest once the jet is streaking down the runway.

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