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NYC adventure includes Carnegie Hall performance for 77 high school choir students

Imagine the thrill of traveling to New York City with your peers for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of performing on one of the world’s finest stages.

On April 7th, 77 Manatee County teens, led by their choir directors, performed at the historic Carnegie Hall, which opened in 1891 and hosted performances by famed artists such as Tchaikovsky, George Gershwin, Judy Garland, and The Beatles.

The singers – 32 from Braden River High School, 36 from Lakewood Ranch High School and 9 from Southeast High School – auditioned and were accepted into the 2024 National Youth Choir.

Their performance, featuring voices from 200 students across the nation, was led by Anton Armstrong and Jeffery Ames, both distinguished conductors from St. Olaf College and Belmont University, respectively.

The choir also sang “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor,” from a sonnet written in 1883 for Lady Liberty.

Lakewood Ranch High senior Corey Coyner was also selected as a soloist for the song, “If I Can Help Somebody.”


Congratulations to choral directors, Steven Armstrong (Braden River HS), Rebekah Lester (Lakewood Ranch HS), and Michelle Norman-Webb (Southeast HS) for providing this opportunity for students and preparing them to be a part of such a prestigious performance.

“This is special to me as I did this very thing when I was 17 with my choir director Joe Wilt, and I know this event helped guide my future,” said Rebekah Lester. “I have completed one of my dreams as a teacher. My life has come full circle as a musician.”


While visiting NYC, the students and educators visited the Statue of Liberty, watched a Broadway show and enjoyed shopping in The Big Apple.

Braden River High School students also performed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a magnificent landmark which seats 2,400 people.


A special thanks to Rhea Skaggs, Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist, and Mustangs Ahead, the student journalism program from Lakewood Ranch High School, for providing information about this Good News story.