A High School Choir Was Set To Sing At Carnegie Hall – Then COVID-19 Sickened Its Director

“I think I was probably one of the first 50 cases in Tarrant County – but I’m not so sure.”

By Laura RiceMay 7, 2020 11:02 am, , ,

It is a little unusual for a choir to be invited to participate in a big festival, based on someone randomly encountering a YouTube video of its performance. But that is what happened for the Paschal High School choir from Fort Worth ISD.

The students were all set for a big trip to New York City to perform at none other than Carnegie Hall.

“To be invited to sing at Carnegie Hall is a huge deal. Huge deal,” said head choir director Nathan Benavides.

He said the new music for the festival had arrived and the students were just about to turn their focus to it – “when COVID hit us,” said Benavides.

Like many districts across Texas, Fort Worth ISD extended spring break, then later moved to “learning at home.” The trip was officially canceled when the City of New York required Carnegie Hall to close.

The disappointment was enormous and the effects of a pandemic that may have seemed far away hit home. But they were about to hit even closer to home.

“Two friends of mine decided to stay in and watch a movie and, lo and behold, one of the friends ended up getting sick the following day,” Benavides said.

He said that friend’s positive coronavirus test came in the same day he himself began to feel symptoms.

“It was really bad headaches, mild fevers at night, extreme fatigue,” Benavides said.

Thankfully, he said, he never experienced the more severe or life-threatening symptoms that others have faced. He said he also felt thankful for the support of his students and their parents who reached out to help him when he was sick.

Paschal High choir members.

For now, Benavides is connecting with his students remotely with regular assignments that are “somewhat music therapy.” In the longer-term, he said he and others in fine arts across the country are unsure what the next season of performances may look like.

“Choir is designed to be shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand, breathing together in unison and COVID-19 is kind of putting that whole process into question,” Benavides said.


If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.