MC Singers’ “Spectacular” Performance at Radio City Music Hall


As the audience for the 11 a.m. performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular settled into their seats on Saturday, Nov. 17, Manhattan College’s Singers took the stage and sang for the crowd.

Andy Bauer, director of performing arts at Manhattan College, had been approached by a representative for Radio City Music Hall at the end of the summer about having Manhattan College Singers do a prelude to one showing of the spectacular.

“At first, I was a little surprised that Radio City Music Hall was contacting us because I hadn’t personally had contact with them – they reached out to us,” said Bauer.

He continued.

“They told me somebody who worked in their office had known about the music department at Manhattan College and had seen our concert of Lessons and Carols and felt that it would be a really good match of what they were looking for,” said Bauer. “They do this with some frequency where they have choirs from colleges, the community and some other organizations where they come in and perform a short prelude before the Christmas Spectacular and they thought Manhattan College would be a good fit for that so they personally invited us and we gladly accepted.”

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Plans for the performance at Radio City Music Hall were made in the summer, when Andy Bauer, director of performing arts, was approached by a representative from Radio City. MANHATTAN COLLEGE / COURTESY

While Radio City reached out, Bauer and members of Singers’ executive board had to help coordinate and make sure this happened. Seniors Erin Plitt, president of Singers, and Kelsey Sullivan, secretary of Singers, were the two students Bauer had helping him set up this performance.

“So Kelsey and I were kind of the two people Andy delegated us to orchestrate being in contact with Radio City and working out the details and I remember it was all within about two hours, we did calls back and forth. Andy was calling to and from Student Engagement and literally in an hour or so, we knew this was something we were going to be doing our senior year and it was just insane, I was on such a high all day from experiencing that and having that news,” said Plitt.

While Plitt and Sullivan were working to get the performance setup, Bauer got in touch with Student Engagement to see when the school intended to sell discounted tickets to the students. After he found out the day and time, Bauer asked his contacts at Radio City if the slot before the 11 a.m. show was available for Singers to do the prelude. The slot was available, so the Singers jumped on the chance to perform for an audience that contained some fellow Jaspers.

Fortunately for Singers, almost everyone in the group was able to come. Radio City Music Hall has a 50 person limit on the stage, but Singers was able to squeeze 52. While the club is actually comprised of more than 60 members, for various reasons those other members were unavailable for the performance, so no one had to be cut.

After setting up the performance, Singers had to get to work to prepare for singing at Radio City.

Bauer said, “There are two pieces that we’re singing at the Christmas Spectacular. One is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the other is “Carol of the Bells” and they’re both particular arrangements of these well-known pieces and they’re acapella. One of the stipulations of Radio City is that it’s an acapella performance unaccompanied. It also has to be memorized – we can’t bring any handheld object or paper or anything on the stage. We don’t typically memorize music for Singers … so we have been rehearsing a bit differently.”

For Singers, these arrangements and stipulations presented a new challenge in preparation for the performance.

“It’s a lot of reminding all of Singers that this needs to be off-book and it’s not that they don’t want to but we just have to remind them… I think they challenge us,” said Audrey Sabatino, Singers vice president.

Plitt concurred that the preparations posed some challenges from the group.

“We’re not usually an acapella group so to really be able to get off book as well as be acapella is something we’re not used to at all and it’s definitely been a challenge for us but I’m excited to see how it turns out, especially in the venue we’re performing at, you can hear every little detail,” Plitt said. “I’m excited and I’m sure we’ll do well but I’m excited to see where we are as a group, what can our sound be and where we can go from here as a group.”

While this is a special occasion, for Singers, this is just another chance to show off the strength of their performance ability.

“We’re working very hard to do our best, but we’re not working any harder for Radio City than for Lessons and Carols. We feel all our public performances must be at a very stellar level,” said Bauer.