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When Natalie Jarecke received information about the 2020 High School Honors Performance Series being held in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, she didn’t really take the piece of mail sitting in front of her seriously.

She knew she might receive some information about upcoming singing opportunities, as comes with the territory of being selected to Nebraska’s All State Choir as a sophomore. But at least for a while, she gave the information little thought as the month of May wore on.

“I thought it was kind of just junk mail stuff that they send you,” the Columbus High School junior said. “They send you all this stuff if you make it into All State Choir, which I did. I left it laying around for a bit and I kept thinking about it, and my mom kept wanting me to do it – she wanted to go back to New York, too.”

Unlike many of the students who will be making the five-day trip to the Big Apple in late January, Jarecke has been fortunate enough to visit the city twice. She has an aunt, uncle and cousins who live in a suburb outside of the New York City’s five boroughs.

“I love it there, if I could move there I would,” Jarecke said. “I’ve always been saying that since the first time I went there.”

Jarecke learned in late October that she was selected to participate in the Performance Series as a soprano in 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.”

For Jarecke, the whole experience of being selected really came as a bit of shock. She said she knows she’s talented, but so many others are, too. While recording an Italian piece and preparing to submit it to the selection committee, hitting 'send' was difficult.

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“I recorded my audition about three times, I think, because I kept nitpicking at everything I was hearing,” she said. "Because I really wanted to get in. Eventually I just said, ‘I’ll pick this one.’ Because I messed up a little bit in some of them but I recovered from it … It was kind of a problem, just thinking about everything too much.”

But whatever she did worked just fine. Now, she’s preparing to join students from 47 United States, Guam, several provinces of Canada, Bermuda, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Qatar and South Korea. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned conductors and participate in a special performance on Feb. 2 at Carnegie Hall.

While the stage is much bigger at her upcoming venue, Jarecke is no stranger to performing – she’s been honing her craft for more than 11 years. She is currently a member of the New World Singers and CHS Concert Choir and also participates in St. Isidores church choir. In addition, she is the vice president of CHS TRI-M Music Honor Society, was chosen last year for All State Choir and traveled to Nashville with CHS to compete in the Next Generation Barbershop Chorus contest.

She acknowledged, though, that stepping onto Carnegie Hall’s stage is a bit of a different animal.

“It’s going to be a huge deal for me,” she said. “I’ve been singing for about 11 or 12 years and my dream has been to be recognized for my voice. I work really hard at everything I do and just to get this, it does help to show me what kind of talent I really do have and how much potential I have.”

Perhaps more than anything, Jarecke is excited to perform with a like-minded group of teens who take music as seriously as she does.

“I love being with people who love music,” she said. “I always say that music is a language that only a few people know, but it would be amazing if everybody knew it. It would bring everyone together and bring more peace into the world.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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