MODG Students Sing at Madison Square Garden

VOX Reporter Mya Riley, 16, and alumna Kirra Riley, 17, tell about their experience singing before a New York Liberty vs. Phoenix Mercury basketball game.

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MODG Students Sing at Madison Square Garden

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Mya explained to VOX how she and her sister were able to have this experience: “My sister and I are part of the Concordia Youth Chorale. We’ve sung at a lot of amazing places like Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. But this would be the first time we sang at a place as well-known to non-musical people as Madison Square Garden. When my choir director told us, we were so excited. We got the opportunity because we sang the national anthem at a baseball game and my choir director sent a recording to Madison Square Garden. They told us we had to come and sing for them!”

She added that, “It’s one of the best things ever when you get acknowledgment like that for something you work really hard at.”

When Kirra learned that her choir was going to Madison Square Garden, she said, “I felt super excited and I wasn’t nervous because I knew that our choir directors would make sure everything was perfect before we went.”

According to Mya, “We had a two hour bus ride from New Jersey and the anticipation and excitement kept building the whole time.”

Unlike Mya, who was super excited when she first saw the sign, Kirra reflected, “I thought, ‘Oh good we’re here.’ Because the bus ride was long and I was just ready to go and rock this.”

The saying that “everyone is equal backstage” proved true when the girls were led into a freight elevator and told by a security guard that, “everyone who had ever played or performed at Madison Square Garden went in this elevator!”  Mya said, “LeBron and Adele were just two of a long list of people he mentioned.”

As for the reaction to entering the stadium, Mya had this to say: “Imagine you’re walking down a concrete hallway, it looks like any unfinished basement. Then, out of the corner of your eye you see an opening as you walk past. You catch a glimpse of rows of tiered seats and bright lights. But before you have a chance to take it in, you’re past it already, hurrying to keep up with the guard. Then the guard leads you through another opening. And it hits you. The seats that seem to go up forever, the court, the bright lights, the massive Jumbotron, the halftime show practicing on the court. My mind kind of shut down and all I could think was ‘woooooaaaaah!!!!’” 

Kirra said, “When I saw the sign I wasn’t that impressed, but when I walked into the building I was in awe of how big and awesome it was.”

After being able to watch the team warm up in court-side seats and warming up their voices backstage, it was time to walk out onto that court and face the hundreds of people to sing.

According to Mya, “I had been fine nerves-wise until this point. When we lined up and stood at the entrance to the court, my heart started pounding and I started shaking. It was like being about to go out on stage at a school play times 1,000. But it’s like anything else, you just push through the nerves.”

Kirra agreed, adding that, “I first felt nervous standing in line waiting and I was the first person to walk on. I handled it by just breathing and staying calm and being confident in what we had been taught. Also, when I walked out there I just faked confidence.”

When asked how many people were present, Mya said, “The stadium was only about half full, but we’re talking about a stadium that can fit 19,763 people. There were a lot of people watching us.”

Kirra added, “The amount of people didn’t affect me in a nervous way but I was thinking that this was going to be good on a college application and good advertising. I was very practical.”

After singing the cheer-inducing high Cs at the end of the song, the girls were able to go find their seats and relax while watching the game.

Kirra said, when asked about the actual singing, “The actual singing was right on point. I feel like we did a great job.”  Mya agreed, stating, “After the nerves sort of died off, I think the singing went fantastic.”

In regard to the overall experience, Kirra said, “It was an amazing experience and if anyone had the chance to do the same thing they should definitely do it.”  Mya concurred, adding, “It took a while for my heart to go back to normal after singing, then the excitement came back. I had just sung the national anthem at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN!!!! I had been on the Jumbotron! It was exhilarating and I am so glad I got to experience something that so few people get to.”
The Riley girls have proved once again that homeschoolers can do incredible things.  In the video of the Concordia Youth Chorale, Kirra and Mya are on the far right in the back row.

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