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This old joke really did get a Tacoma choir to Carnegie Hall

Puyallup choir to perform at Carnegie Hall Ola Gjeilo's "Dreamweaver"

Members of the South Sound Classical Choir will perform with a group of 250 singers Ola Gjeilo's "Dreamweaver" at New York's Carnegie Hall. This video shows the local group performing at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Tacoma, Wash.
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Members of the South Sound Classical Choir will perform with a group of 250 singers Ola Gjeilo's "Dreamweaver" at New York's Carnegie Hall. This video shows the local group performing at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Tacoma, Wash.

You don't have to audition to join the South Sound Classical Choir, just practice a lot.

"Practice, practice, practice — at home," said member John Gillman, 60. "Somehow it's worked out."

It turns out, the answer to the old joke - "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" - really is practice, practice, practice.

About 30 of the choir's members are headed to the famous New York City performance venue to perform Sunday (April 15).

They were invited by composer Ola Gjeilo to perform with 200 other international singers from a dozen choirs. He's debuting his new work, "Dreamweaver."

The South Sound choir is made up of about 55 singers who perform a diverse musical repertoire. The 15-year-old choir performs concert programs that include classical music from Renaissance era to modern times.

They rehearse weekly at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Two years ago, director David LaBerge chose "The Ground" by Gjeilo as the choir's signature piece. They sing it at the end of each concert.

Gillman, who has been a member for about two years, put some videos of the choir on YouTube.

"It kind of took off, it got a lot of views," he said.

One of those viewers was Gjeilo.

The choir puts on an annual free holiday program in churches, featuring Handel's "Messiah" excerpts, carols and more.

Gillman credits LaBerge with raising the profile of the choir in recent years.

"We're just volunteers from the community, mostly senior citizens," Gillman said. "When you consider we're going to Carnegie Hall, it's an amazing accomplishment."

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor
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