New York, New York
Gary Mabry stood frozen on 57th Street in New York City. There it was, Carnegie Hall. And, outside the venerable venue that has seen the likes of John Philip Sousa and Luciano Pavarotti, six-foot posters read “UTSA Women’s Alumnae Choir—Gary Mabry, conductor.”
“Incidentally, I talked [Carnegie Hall officials] out of the poster and have since had it framed,” he said.
Mabry, an associate professor of music, lived out a lifetime dream in March when he was a guest conductor at Carnegie Hall. Mabry led a group of 60 performers, who included current members of the UTSA’s Women’s Choir and members of the UTSA Women’s Alumnae Choir.
The group performed a 25-minute prelude concert, then joined a larger group of 250 singers to perform Beethoven’s “Mass in C,” led by British composer-conductor John Rutter.
“The group delivered a fabulous concert and everyone felt so good because they worked so hard all these months,” Mabry said. “The trip also generated goodwill between our alumni and current students and allowed both the opportunity to sing with one another.”
The journey began in October 2008 when Mabry was contacted by Mid-America Productions, the booking agency for most of the performances at Carnegie Hall. Mid-America knew of his history, both as a choral director and vocalist in other singing groups, but this was the first time they had offered him the opportunity to serve as a guest conductor.
“I worked on putting this project together for a year and a half,” he said. “Current students worked on the music since last September. Local singers joined us for rehearsals each weekend and on Fridays beginning in January. Rehearsals in New York were held over a four-day period prior to the actual concert.”
Singers came from throughout Texas, as well as Mississippi, Delaware, Oregon, Ohio and New Mexico. With such a massive undertaking, Mabry used Facebook to keep everyone informed.
“I started a Facebook group called Let’s Sing at Carnegie Hall, and used it as a vehicle to send and receive information,” he said.
For Mabry, it ranks at the top of his musical achievements. But the moment he’ll always remember? “It was the moment just after our singers had taken their places on stage and I was walking on to conduct at Carnegie Hall!” he said. “It was amazing. There were incredible acoustics and there was a very good crowd.”
—Kris Rodriguez and Lety Laurel