LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– A Las Vegas high school choir is heading to the Big Apple and a big stage: Carnegie Hall. But, fundraising for this Title I school is the one obstacle standing in the way.
Over 250 students participate in Del Sol Academy of Performing Arts music program, and 40 of them are members of the Del Sol Academy Singers, something Vocal Studies Director Jordan Madagame calls the “premiere vocal ensemble” of the high school.
“They sounded just so beautiful, I had to be a part of it,” Del Sol senior Katie Basilio said inside the Del Sol Theater Friday morning, recounting why she joined the music program her freshman year.
Then, early in 2022, Madagame made a deal with a Hawaii-native conductor: they conduct the Del Sol Academy Singers in one of their spring shows, and the choir, in turn, performs in one of their summer shows.
“[The conductor] said, you know, ‘we’re having this show in the summer of ’23 and I would love for your students to be on it.’ I said, ‘oh great, that would be awesome. What is it?’ They’re like, ‘oh, just like, this concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City,’” Madagame said inside the theater with a chuckle of disbelief. “I was like, ‘the real Carnegie Hall? Like, the real one?’”
These high school performers said their mouths dropped when their teacher delivered the news. But, then came the second mouth-drop: the price tag.
“It’s Carnegie Hall, it’s a prestigious place and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Del Sol Junior Marie Kirkikis-Marshall said inside her school’s theater. “September, October, there was some, ‘oh, we don’t know if we can do this.’”
In all, the vocal studies director said $90,000 is needed to get all 40 students, plus himself and potential chaperones, to the east coast. That’s just over $2,000 per student.
While the task may be a feat for any high schooler, it’s specifically difficult for this Title I school. Del Sol Academy receives Title I funding, or money from the federal government to “schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
While Madagame confirmed the academy does receive this funding, most, if not all of it, cannot go towards this opportunity.
In short, it means these teens have to find the money themselves, regardless of how difficult their economic status may make it.
“We’ve been doing fundraisers at restaurants. We’ve been asking for donations just from the local community,” Basilio said.
“We’re doing something all the time. Like, everywhere, all the time,” Del Sol senior Francesco Stanley-Hernandez added.
These efforts join several others, like donation drives, food and snack sales on campus, and “everything else under the sun,” the vocal studies director says.
“Once the bell rings, sometimes we don’t know their story, and I think some of these students, not just at our school, but across the valley, have harder lives than we think,” Madagame said. “Their mental health’s being affected, as well as them trying to balance their academics, as well as balancing the arts classes that they have, as well as raising the money.”
Of the $90K goal, he said fundraising efforts over the past half-year have left them with roughly a quarter of it collected. They have until April to fundraise the rest.
But, regardless of the odds stacked against them, these performers’ hopes crescendo.
“We’re going to get there for sure,” Stanley-Hernandez said. “I’m performing in New York City.”
“You giving five dollars, even though it doesn’t seem like a lot, it does mean a lot to our students because anything helps,” Madagame said. “Yes, there’s going to be hard times to get that money, but I think at the end of the day, we’re going to make it,”
He added, if the money is raised, this will be the first time a choir from Del Sol Academy will perform on the iconic Carnegie Hall stage.