MACOMB TOWNSHIP -- Singing has opened many doors for students
of Evey Simon -- including the doors of Carnegie Hall.
The choral music director at L'Anse Creuse High School-North, Simon
has seen her students perform at many venues locally as well as outside
the state, including the music hall in New York City.
"The choir went to New York City last spring," Simon said. "We did
sightseeing, saw 'Thoroughly Modern Millie,' went to Harlem and
performed in a church there with the Harlem Gospel Choir, and sang at a
half-day clinic with a professor from New York University while he
worked with the choir.
"We also went to Carnegie Hall, took a tour and sang on the stage."
Simon has worked at L'Anse Creuse-North for six years. She leads four
high school groups: the general choir, for ninth graders and other new
students; the Concert Choir, consisting only of girls; the Show Choir,
with 40 boys and girls who sing popular and Broadway songs and dance;
and the select ensemble, with 24 students who must audition. Nearly 140
students participate in the high school's choral music program, she
About half of the choir students traveled to New York City, said
Keith Peruzzi, a junior from Chesterfield Township who sings in the Show
Choir and Select Ensemble.
"I went with the choir to Carnegie Hall," Peruzzi said. "I've been in
choirs my entire life, and it was amazing, a dream come true."
Two years ago, a choir group traveled to Chicago for a vocal
competition, Simon said between songs at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak,
where her choirs were entertaining visitors last week during the Wild
"What I like most about the choir is getting the opportunity to meet
with so many kids, and getting to bond," Peruzzi said about traveling
with the group.
Choir members Kristina Briggs and Gabbie Stiltner, both seniors from
Macomb Township, also sang at Carnegie Hall. Both were also at the zoo
performance, where the choirs' selections included holiday standards
such as "Frosty the Snowman" and "Deck the Halls." They also sang
popular songs, such as "The Little Shop of Horrors," "Pinball Wizard"
and "You're the One That I Want."
They performed in a heated white tent that was festooned with
evergreen garlands and white globe lights, while the audience sat on
bales of hay.
"I love to perform and dance," said Stiltner, who gets to do both as
a member of the Show Choir.
Briggs has taken voice lessons since the age of 7. While in middle
school, she sang the national anthem at Joe Louis Arena with her older
sister, Lisa, a former L'Anse Creuse student now studying music at the
University of Michigan, and her cousin, Kimmy Hojna, a Macomb Township
junior who is also in the Show Choir, said her father, Lee Briggs.
He was also at the zoo concert, playing a supporting role for choir.
He handles the sound system when the choirs perform locally.
The choirs consistently earn the highest ratings in the Michigan
State Solo and Ensemble competition, Simon said.
Peruzzi attributes the success of the choirs to Simon's leadership.
"Our choir director is so patient," said Peruzzi, who has performed
in Simon's choirs for 2 1/2 years. "She never busts a sweat."
Cindy Hampel is a Metro Detroit freelance