Ahtna Shareholder Sings her way to Carnegie Hall

Published July 2020

Leann Wagerle and her mother, Cantwell Elder Maggie Oliver, kicked off the holiday season last year when they travelled to New York City for Leann’s opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall. Leann performed in the choir for “Messiah…Refreshed!” presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) on December 1, 2019. With more than 600 artists, the magnitude of the performance matched the grandeur that one expects from Carnegie Hall.

The performance started with The Great Christmas Ring, a prelude of carols by 250 hand-bell musicians. Maestro Jonathan Griffith conducted the DCINY orchestra, soloists, and choirs in Eugene Goosens’ reorchestration of Handel’s Messiah. Choir members were from all over the United States, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, Hong Kong and Nova Scotia. Leann sang in the first part of the Messiah, and at intermission she and 200 choir mates moved to the box seats that surround the audience on the parquet level. When the second choir was on stage and began to sing the Hallelujah Chorus, the choristers in the boxes stood and sang out into the hall for a stunning and unforgettable experience for both the audience and the performers.

Of her experience, Leann says, “Hallelujah is one of the most majestic pieces to sing and it always gives me a triumphant feeling, but singing it from the box seats at Carnegie Hall was euphoric.”

Leann is a member of the Rogue Chorus, a community chorus in Grants Pass, Oregon that performs a variety of music during each term at Rogue Community College. In September 2018, the DCINY organization found a YouTube video of a Rogue Chorus performance and asked if they wanted to audition. The chorus director sent them a video of the choir singing a classical piece and they were accepted to be part of the performance that would happen nearly a year later.

While in New York, Leann and Maggie fulfilled a dream and saw the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® at Radio City Music Hall. They also saw A Pentatonix Christmas Tour at Madison Square Garden and shopped at the 11-story Macy’s on 34th Street.

Leann says, “I’m glad my mom and I could experience this together. It wouldn’t have been the same if she didn’t get to see me sing and experience New York with me.”

Leann sang in the school choirs at Clark Jr. High and Bartlett High School, and she continued to sing while an undergraduate at UAA and Colorado School of Mines. She is a middle school math teacher in Grants Pass, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two children.

“Those who wish to sing always find a song.” – Swedish Proverb