Hall of Fame

Senior Madison Betz performs at Carnegie Hall

Emily Rutledge, Writer

Carnegie Hall, a prestigious venue located in midtown Manhattan, is a place where dreams come true. A child with an ambition to play piano on its elegant stage longs to join the world’s finest artists who have given performances there.

Senior Madison Betz’s own dream came true in October of 2018 when she received a message stating that she was welcomed to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. However, it would not be the piano that gave her the opportunity, but her voice.

“Back in September, all of the All-State kids that made band, jazz or choir All-State got letters in the mail from the Honors Performance Series, which is a company by World Strides, an international company, so people all around the world tried out for it,” Betz said. “I ended up getting a nomination for making All-State Jazz for piano, so I tried out for piano and choir. In October, I got the message that I made choir.”

Along with the nomination came the requirements for an audition Betz had to prepare for. Although several Bryant students were nominated, she was the only one, that she is aware of, who tried out and made it.

“The audition process was interesting,” Betz said. “I had two weeks to put together the audition, so I just pulled out pieces I already knew and went to my piano teacher, other choir students and asked Mr. [Josh] Gardner, one of our band directors, for help. [Gardner] gave me pointers and pulled me out of class to go through things I needed to work on. After that, I just had to upload everything and write an essay.”

After successfully making the honor mixed choir group, Betz began to prepare for the performance in New York.

“We had to memorize six songs,” Betz said. “One was even in Cherokee, and I was like, ‘Do I know how to sing in Cherokee?’ It turned out fine though.”

After hard work put into auditions and further preparations, Betz was able to make her lifelong aspiration come true. The choir she was accepted in was directed by a world-renowned conductor and composer, Dr. André J. Thomas, who directs many honor and All-State choirs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Outside of rehearsals, time was also dedicated to sight seeing and attending Broadway shows.

“On Feb. 7, I went to the airport, then flew to Atlanta and ended up in New York,” Betz said. “From there, we stayed at the Sheraton Times Square in Manhattan, which is about four minutes from Carnegie Hall. We rehearsed there in the ballroom under the direction of Dr. Thomas. We rehearsed for three days, but also went sightseeing. I got to see ‘Wicked’ and look around Times Square, which was pretty amazing.”

After viewing Carnegie Hall itself, Betz was even more excited after touring the Big Apple and rehearsing in her honors choir group.

“That Sunday night, we performed in Carnegie Hall, and it was huge,” Betz said. “I was like, ‘We don’t even have a whole auditorium [at the high school] right now.’ It was a great experience to be on stage, too. We even sang gospel songs, so it wasn’t really [a] strict music setting. My choir director, Mr. [Tanner] Oglesby, came and sat at the very top just waving like crazy. He was the only one that came. My parents didn’t come, because it was already expensive for me to go, so he did.”

Although others could not make it to see the performance live, many still supported Betz from home. For choir director Tanner Oglesby, however, seeing Betz perform was something he just could not miss.

“The performance at Carnegie was breathtaking,” Oglesby said. “[Betz] was selected for an honor choir with many other fantastic singers. The overall vocal technique of the ensemble was phenomenal, and the attention to detail was so intense. The choir was also able to premiere a section of Dr. Thomas’ new mass setting.”

Betz admires Oglesby and the support he provides her on a daily basis. Not only was the experience one to remember for both of them, but Oglesby gained more insight on the true potential Betz has for being successful on many levels, both musically and academically.

“Madison is so naturally talented, teaching her is little to no work at all,” Oglesby said. “Not only is she phenomenal at singing, but she is also phenomenal at playing piano and horn. She puts her all into everything she does, and she is rarely not good at something. She is a humble individual, and I am honored just to know her. I hope that, with her choral education, I have taught her well and prepared her for college. Most importantly, I hope that I have inspired her to keep singing for the rest of her life in some form or fashion.”

Now that she has accomplished her goal of performing at Carnegie Hall, Betz plans to focus on her education and pursue her aspirations for college and medical studies.

“For me, I just want to get to college now,” Betz said. “I plan on minoring in music, but I want to major in diagnostic medical sonography, which is ultrasound technology.”

Until she leaves for college, potentially at Concordia University in Wisconsin, and even after, Betz hopes to continue her success in choir, band and education through practice, dedication and enthusiasm.

“I give myself a lot of goals,” Betz said. “A lot of people say you can strive for perfection, but that shouldn’t be something people should strive for. Just try to be the best you can; that is what I have been doing with myself. Putting in practice time and passion–with those two, I have been able to be successful.”