Earlier this month, Nansemond River High School junior Haley Maddrey experienced the rare honor of performing with a youth choir at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Earlier this month, Nansemond River High School junior Haley Maddrey experienced the rare honor of performing with a youth choir at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

How a Suffolk teen got to Carnegie Hall

Published 10:53pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

It’s been Baron’s Pub to Carnegie Hall for a Nansemond River High School junior who just returned from performing with a national youth choir in New York.

Haley Maddrey was recommended for the Honors Performance Series by NRHS chorus director Joleen Neighbours, who says the teen is “one of the finest musicians” she has ever coached.

Maddrey traveled to New York Feb. 6-10, joining the 267-strong high school choir in one memorable — to say the least — performance at the prestigious concert venue in Midtown Manhattan.

“I sent in an audition tape for alto 1,” the teen said. “I got an email that said, ‘Congratulations, you are accepted.’”

Chorus members came together from all over America as well as various parts of the world, Maddrey said, citing Alabama, North Dakota, Canada, Nicaragua, Qatar and Shanghai.

They rehearsed in a hotel ballroom for two days, she said, adding, “Everyone did their individual work … no one came in there slacking or unprepared.”

At Carnegie Hall, which New Yorkers like to tell lost tourists they’ll need “practice” to get to — according to an old joke — the audience was a “good size,” according to Maddrey.

The choir performed various numbers, she said, including “Skip to My Lou,” Russian folk song “Veniki,” “Silent Devotion and Response” and “Shore on the Shining Night.”

“It was just exhilarating,” Maddrey enthused. “I think it will be really cool” to look back on, “especially just being from Suffolk.

“It’s really small here, and it’s just really different to go up there and be able to do that.”

She said she hoped the series would still be going in years to come “so I can encourage my kids to do it.”

Maddrey said she had been “singing forever,” but didn’t begin chorus until the sixth grade.

She sings in the worship band at her church, as well as around local and area venues with her dad Keith Maddrey, places such as Baron’s Pub in downtown Suffolk and Portsmouth.

“Definitely soul and R&B, that type of stuff,” she replied when asked what she most likes to sing.

Maddrey said she also writes, and has recorded some of her original material with a friend.

She said it was her first time to New York, adding, “That was really cool.” They were able to see Times Square and catch “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.

After school, she said, she wants to major in music, hopefully at Virginia Tech.

The Carnegie Hall experience would look great on Maddrey’s resume, according to Neighbours: “In terms of her career, what a wonderful thing she can say, that she got to perform at Carnegie Hall at 16 years old. There’s just a small percentage of people in the world that can say that.”

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