St. Raphael Academy freshman to perform at Carnegie Hall

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NORTH PROVIDENCE — The first time Jenny Sullivan, 14, steps foot into Carnegie Hall next week, it won’t be as a spectator. Rather, she’ll be singing as a second soprano with the Honors Choir as part of the 2015 High School Honors Performance Series.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Sullivan, a freshman at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket. “When I first auditioned, it seemed like it was something that could happen, but maybe not. All of a sudden, it’s happening.”

Sullivan, who graduated from St. Pius V School in Providence last June, will be representing Rhode Island during the Honors Performance Series, which is presented by WorldStrides, the nation’s largest accredited travel organization. It aids 300,000 students travel to destinations in more than 90 countries each year.

While in New York City from February 19 through February 23, Sullivan will join finalists from throughout the country, as well as several provinces in Canada, and many foreign countries. In addition to having the opportunity to take the stage at one of the world’s most iconic concert venues, Sullivan and her peers will see a Broadway Show and visit the city’s most famous landmarks, such as Times Square and Top of the Rock. They’ll also be under the direction of renowned conductors, including Dr. Eph Ehly, Jeffrey Grogan and Sharon Lavery.

“Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these student musicians never forget,” Morgan Smith, program director at WorldStrides, said in a press release. “Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing. We process more than 10,000 nominations annually, selecting only the most talented performers applying on an international level.

According to the release, Sullivan was chosen for participation in one of the three Honors Ensembles, which is limited to the highest rated high school performers from across North America and select international schools. Acceptance to the “elite group” is a result of the talent, dedication and achievements demonstrated in her application and audition recording.

Sullivan said she auditioned in May and was accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board. She was shocked, yet elated, when she learned the big news.

“It was really surprising when I found out,” she said.

Her parents, Don and Karen, as well as her brother, David, are “thrilled” and “proud” that she is making such strides as a performer. She’s been studying music for four years, starring and performing with several theatre companies in Rhode Island, such as The Wilbury Group and Lakeside Theatre Group.

“She works very hard and just loves performing,” said Karen, also noting that her daughter was recently awarded one of the lead roles in St. Raphael’s spring production.

She went on to say that her daughter has taken private voice lessons from Phyllis Horridge and Eden Casteel, who have both been “very instrumental in attaining this goal of performing at Carnegie Hall.” She also credited St. Raphael staffers Laura Ducharme, Moira Carraher and Terrence Murray for helping her hone and craft her God-given talent, and praised Principal Dan Richard, “who has been very supportive and helpful and kind.”

When she’s not performing, Sullivan serves as a volunteer for the St. Pius V Drama Club. Working with children who share a passion for the stage, said Sullivan, is a “fun” experience.

“It’s really cool to give back and help out with the program that I was involved with when I was there,” she said. “I really enjoy it.”

As for performing, whether in a theatrical production or concert, Sullivan said it makes her “happy.” She’s grateful to God for giving her not only the talent, but also a strong faith, and is looking forward to her trip to New York.

“This is a major way of using [my gift],” she said. “All of the time that I waited to find out was special because it was something that I shared with him.”

The performance at Carnegie Hall on February 22 is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased prior to the performance through the Carnegie Hall box office. Learn more by visiting CarnegieHall.org.