Metro singers among those honored with Carnegie Hall experience

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Terrific talent, hard work, dedication and a deep love of music are taking this week's FOX 4 Young Achievers to New York City this week for an unforgettable musical experience. They get to sing at Carnegie Hall as members of an elite honors choir of some of the most outstanding high school vocal music performers in the U.S.

High school district and state music contests are looming large in the spring. So The Chorale, one of the advanced choirs at Olathe South, is tackling difficult music to impress the judges. Alto standout Veronica Wood loves the challenge -- and the thrill.

"It's like you can't go without food and you can't go without water, I can't go without performing," said Veronica. "And so just the fact that I get to do it every day is just such a blessing for me."

In the same rehearsal room a couple of hours earlier, The Southside Singers, another select choir at South, was deep into the same kind of effort on an ambitious work of sacred music. And outstanding bass Christopher Chavez was in his element.

"It's always a real rush because I feel like our performances are always, like, amazing," said Christopher.

Veronica and Christopher have not really shared the stage together in performances before. Now they will, on one of the biggest stages in one of the world's most acclaimed music venues.

"And we perform at Carnegie Hall in New York and we make so many memories together," said Christopher with a huge smile.

They'll perform and make memories this week as members of the elite Honors Choir in the 2014 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. It's highly competitive with a rigorous audition process. Christopher and Veronica will be among superb teen vocalists from the U.S. and Canada and some other foreign countries.

"Because they're willing to work hard for it," said Olathe South Director of Choirs Cynthia Sheppard. "They're the kind of kid you want to set up as a role model to other students."

Sheppard is taking South students to the Carnegie Hall honors series for the third straight year.

"And they're getting to work with outstanding choral directors in the profession for several days in intense rehearsals with other kids who really love music as much as they do," said Sheppard about what Veronica and Christopher will experience. "And then they get to have that wonderful experience on the Carnegie Hall stage, which not everyone has the chance to do."

It's renewal time for Christopher. He earned his way into the select program last year, as well.

"What makes it important to me is that I feel like it shows my progress as a singer," said Christopher. "And in doing that, I also create a ton of friendships."

Meantime, it's Veronica's first experience with the honors choir and first trip to New York City -- very big for a student interested in pursuing a musical theater career.

"I hope to one day live in New York and so it's a really great experience," said Veronica. "And I know that not everybody gets to say they've performed at Carnegie. That's great."

But Veronica and Christopher sure get to say it -- and sing in.

Veronica and Christopher also are both big into musical theater at South and in community venues. And they still have a lot of high school singing and musical theater to do. Christopher is a junior and Veronica is a sophomore.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.

Phil Witt, FOX 4 News

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