June 2nd marked Mayson Harris’ second trip to New York City. But in a twist of fate, this visit to the Big Apple held something extraordinary in store. The prospect of performing at Carnegie Hall fueled Harris, a member of the TSU Meistersingers, with ambition, and the students embarked on a mission to turn their dream into reality.
Through donation after donation, the TSU premiere choral group’s fundraising efforts totaling $20,000 were successful, leading to an unforgettable performance at Carnegie Hall—a musical ensemble of a lifetime.
“Carnegie Hall is a grand place,” said Harris, a rising senior at TSU studying music. “To actually perform there, the acoustics were amazing. I could hear all the voices blending together. I can’t wait to see what our choir does next,” the baritone singer said.
Eight TSU Meistersingers traveled to NYC to premiere a new musical piece alongside students from other universities, captivating an audience of hundreds with their sound on June 5. Out of more than 80 singers from various colleges and community choruses, TSU was the only HBCU to be a part of the 30-minute performance at Carnegie Hall.
“Having more Black voices in Carnegie Hall, especially from HBCUs, will always have a big impact,” said Harris from Nashville. “If one can do it, we can take it a step further and have all HBCUs at Carnegie Hall.”
Accompanying the TSU Meistersingers during their performance was their passionate Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Angelica Dunsavage.
Dr. Dunsavage expressed that the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY), an organization the singers collaborated with, were amazed by their performance.“They (DCINY) were really impressed by our students,” said Dunsavage, noting that they commended their preparation and professionalism and extended an invitation to return for any future opportunities.
The students showcased a musical piece titled “Where We Find Ourselves,” inspired by a series of photographs taken during the Jim Crow era in North Carolina. This piece is a Carnegie Hall premiere composed by Michael Bussewitz-Quarm. Dunsavage emphasized that exposure at this level is crucial for the TSU Meistersingers.” It means a lot to our students to start building travel up and getting more of a national reputation for the choral program.”
The performance also held great significance for TSU student Link Fisher III, who considered singing on the same prestigious stage as some of his favorite vocalists like Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald an exceptional opportunity.
“Sharing a stage that all these greats have shared, it was a moment to thank God for allowing me to be here,” Fisher said. “All these opportunities keep presenting themselves. You take them and you learn from them.” Fisher, a senior studying performing arts and French, revealed that his post-graduation plans involve “living life to the fullest.” He plans to attend graduate school in Paris to pursue a career in conducting music and opera singing.
The enthusiasm and dedication of the TSU Meistersingers will propel them to new heights. Sharing their voices with professional musicians at Carnegie Hall is another accolade that will unlock endless opportunities.
For more information about TSU Meistersingers visit www.tnstate.edu/music/meistersingers. Check out a video of the TSU Meistersingers rehearsing for the Carnegie Hall performance with composer Michael Bussewitz-Quarms and students from other universities here.