Saturday event to benefit Sequim High School choir’s trip to Carnegie Hall
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Director John Lorentzen, foreground right, leads the Sequim High School Select Choir at its winter concert in December.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– A taste of the Big Apple will be offered up Saturday, as backers of Sequim High School’s choir stage an Empire State-themed concert to raise the final funds needed for Wolf singers’ gig at Carnegie Hall.

“They’re all getting really excited for the show,” said Sharrie Neale, chairwoman of the choir’s booster club.

More than 40 members of Sequim’s choir will ship off for New York City for a March 30 concert in one of the world’s most fabled music halls, a trip Sequim singers make every four years.

To get them in the mood, Readers Theatre Plus is staging “An Evening of New York Songs” with a set of 19 songs inspired by a city so nice they named it twice.

The concert starts at 2 p.m. Saturday in the sanctuary of Sequim Community Church, 950 N. Fifth Ave. The concert is free, but donations to help the students fund their trip will be accepted.

Headlining Saturday’s show will be Port Angeles singer and Sequim Middle School teacher Vicki Helwick, who will be accompanied by Sequim High choir director John Lorentzen, Port Angeles High School music director Ron Jones, Sequim High alumna Elise Ray and — giving a sneak preview of their talents — the Sequim High Select Choir.

“They’re going to have such a great time,” said Helwick, who helped chaperone the Port Angeles High Roughrider Orchestra’s trip to New York City last year.

“We just wanted to help send them off in style.”

The cost of the trip, which includes five days in the city that never sleeps, is expected to total $125,000, Neale said, and the choir is within a few thousand dollars of that mark.

“We wanted to make sure they have enough to cover the little things like subway fare and food,” she said.

Any funds raised that are not needed on the trip will go into the choir boosters’ scholarship fund.

The set list will run the gamut of Manhattan-inspired tunes, Helwick said, from the “New York, New York” made famous by Frank Sinatra to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” along with Broadway faves like “Lullaby of Broadway” and “N.Y.C.”

It’s a reprise of the set Helwick and Jones staged to send off the Roughriders on their Carnegie trip last year.

“Give me a stage and a microphone, and I’ll be there,” Helwick said. “Having it be for a good cause makes it that much better.”

The students and the booster club have been working for years to raise funds for the trip.

Last fall, they took over the Sequim Kiwanis Club’s Christmas tree lot in front of J.C. Penney.

“We sold a lot of trees for not knowing what we’re doing,” Neale said. “These kids have worked really, really hard.”

The boosters have overseen plans for the East Coast swing, including arranging air travel and student activities while they are in the city.

One of those activities will be a trip to see Broadway’s version of “Wicked,” Stephen Schwartz’s and Winnie Holzman’s musical about the early lives of the witches from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Helwick has included a number of songs from the show in Saturday’s set.

Next Thursday, many of the songs it will sing in New York will be shown off by the Sequim High choir at its spring concert, to be held in the high school auditorium, 601 N. Sequim Ave., at 7 p.m.

Admission to that show is free as well, but donations will be accepted.


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: March 13. 2014 7:22PM
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