When it comes to the performing arts, Aquinas High School senior Libby Aschoff makes an effort to never miss out on a great opportunity.
“I love involving myself,” Aschoff said. “I try to audition for plenty of honors choirs – anything that I can find I try to audition for that. I want to get as many experiences as possible because I really do love all of the stuff that I do … It’s what I hope to do for the rest of my life."
Now, Aschoff is getting prepared for arguably the biggest challenge and most prestigious performance of her young career: The 2020 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It takes place Jan. 30-Feb. 3.
During the five-day gathering being held late January into early February, Aschoff will join students from 47 United States, Guam, several provinces of Canada, Bermuda, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Qatar and South Korea for a special performance at the world-famous Carnegie Hall, a venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the iconic New York City venue has seen performances by the likes of Judy Garland, Carol Burnett, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Ray Charles, B.B King and Frank Sinatra, among others.
Aschoff is singing alto with the Honors Treble Choir. Participation in one of the five honors ensembles is limited to the highest-rated high school performers from across the world.
“Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each Finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing,” said Matt Castrina, vice president for the Honors Performance Series, through a released statement. “We processed more than 18,000 nominations this year and have selected over 600 of the most talented student performers from around the world. Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these musicians never forget.”
Although there’s no doubt this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Aschoff has already laid a pretty impressive foundation that undoubtedly played a role in getting her ready for the big stage.
She’s a member of the Aquinas Gold Rush Show Choir, mixed choir and concert, marching and pep bands. She serves as drum major for the school’s marching band and received the Nebraska Young Artist Award for music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Hixson-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts.
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Also, she was previously selected to sing with the Nebraska Music Education Association’s (NMEA) 2019 All-State Chorus and has participated in various honor choirs and bands, including the Nebraska Choral Directors Association (NCDA) All-State Concert Choir, Wayne State College Honor Choir and Honor Band and Concordia University Honor Choir.
She found out about the Carnegie opportunity in May and auditioned in the middle of June. She learned that she was selected in late October, but before the notification, there was certainly a bit of stress and uneasiness.
“It was terrifying,” she said, with a laugh. “I thought about it every week … It’s pretty unreal, I mean, I don’t think that it’s quite hit me yet that this is actually happening. New York City and Carnegie Hall and just being with international best-of-the best people. I’m still definitely processing all of it.”
Aschoff and other students selected will certainly keep busy with their musical obligations, however; there will be some allotted free time for them to get out and see what the Big Apple has to offer.
There is certainly a sense of excitement with traveling to New York City, experiencing an assortment of new things and meeting new people, but the real draw for Aschoff, unsurprisingly, is being under the lights on the Carnegie Hall stage doing what she loves.
To the best of her knowledge she is the first Aquinas student to receive this opportunity and she wants to make the most of it.
“It’s literally crazy,” she said. “I’m used to traveling around Nebraska performing at different college campuses and stuff like that, but this is traveling very, very far to perform at an incredible hall with so much history and such a talented group. It’s amazing and honestly unfathomable.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.