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New Richmond teacher sings at Carnegie Hall

Heather Zappetta outside Carnegie Hall.

When Heather Zappetta was given the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York, she jumped on it.

"I had to miss the last day of school but this is something you can't not do," she said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Zappetta traveled to New York in June to sing with her alma mater, Grace University in Omaha, Neb., and Greg Zielke, her former director.

"A bunch of alumni were asked, only like three of us went. For most it was a money thing, but it's just something I had to do," she said.

The performance was scheduled through MidAmerica Productions, which schedules music acts at many major venues - including Carnegie Hall.

Zappetta and roughly 150 other choir members performed music by Franz Joseph Haydn. The New Richmond elementary music teacher said it was a little nerve-racking because the pieces were in Latin and she wasn't given much time to practice before arriving in New York.

"I hadn't rehearsed with anyone until I got there," she said. "Thank goodness for YouTube and the professional performances on there."

Although she missed the first rehearsal because the performance date was moved, Zappetta said the remaining rehearsals went well.

"The acoustics in Carnegie Hall are amazing," she said. "They're not like anything you've ever experienced and you can't go by what you're hearing - you really need to focus on the director."

She spent most of the first rehearsal just looking around the hall, she said.

"They say that once you get on stage you have that 'ah' moment," Zappetta said. "For me it was just a lot of looking around. The emotional stuff didn't hit me until the night of the performance."

To perform on a stage that also hosted performances by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Luciano Pavarotti and John Philip Sousa was overwhelming, she said.

After the performance, Zappetta visited the second floor of the hall to look around. Autographed photos of famous performers decorated the walls.

"That was just really cool to see," she said. "You see Carnegie Hall in books and people are happy just to be in the audience, but to be on stage performing in front of those people, it's something I'll never forget."

Although she fit many other sightseeing destinations into her schedule, the performance at Carnegie Hall was the highlight of the trip, Zappetta said.

The day after the performance, Zappetta returned to Carnegie Hall to visit the museum, she said.

"I'm really glad I did that," she said. "I learned a lot of the history behind the building and that it was going to be torn down. I didn't know that."

Zappetta's trip made her more knowledgeable and as a teacher in New Richmond, she plans to pass that knowledge onto her students.

"I hope to do a section on Carnegie Hall," she said. "Now I can teach it and know about it myself."

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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