What does it take to assemble nearly 200 Dwight students from four different campuses on one of the world’s greatest concert stages? We sat down with Music Director Alistair Hamilton to get a behind-the-scenes look at the annual Carnegie Hall production — and to learn a bit more about the man behind the music. This is your second Carnegie Hall cross-campus production. What excites you most about it this year?
I'm excited to see even more Dwight students from around the world unite socially, culturally, and musically. This year, we are welcoming students from the new Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School in addition to those from Dwight Schools in London and Seoul. They will share the stage with students in grades 4-12 from here in New York in one multi-cultural production called “Dwight Showtime: Music from the Stage and Screen.” What do Dwight students gain by working with their peers from other countries on such an exciting production?
They gain quite a bit by sharing a global vision and collaborating through the universal language of music. At all stages of preparation, from webcam auditions and local campus-based rehearsals to rehearsing together as one in New York, students have been gearing up and are so excited to share their music and cultures with each other.
Everyone has worked very hard, and many have traveled far before being thrust into intensive rehearsals with their global counterparts this week. On Saturday, it will be a real shining moment for our collective music departments when Dwight students from around the globe take to the stage in such an iconic venue. What’s the most challenging aspect of the Carnegie Hall program?
In the months leading up to the concert, working across different time zones always presents challenges. Logistically, it can be even more challenging to unite all the campuses for one intensive week of learning, rehearsing, socializing, and sightseeing. Director of Community Life Libby Clark and Director of Extra-curricular Activities Fiona Imboden are very dedicated colleagues who help to make everything happen. Musically and organizationally, there are a lot of moving parts and it is important to support the varying needs of all students/ensembles to kindle their sparks of genius! You’ve received Professional Development grants from The Dwight School Foundation to support your own spark of genius. Tell us more about that.
Through generous grants over the last few years, the Foundation has contributed to my work toward a second master’s degree in music and choral conducting at California State University, Los Angeles. I earned my first master’s degree in music education and am quite grateful to have the opportunity to achieve a second master’s degree.
The program in music and choral conducting is very rare ― it’s the only one in the country that allows working professional teachers to study toward a master’s degree.
Participating in this program with The Foundation’s support has been so inspiring to me, and I look forward to completing it this summer. How have the Professional Development grants helped you in your work with Dwight students?
When you're surrounded with like-minded people in a master’s program such as mine, you get a different perspective on arranging music, logistics, and planning for a successful, large-scale event, such as Dwight’s Carnegie Hall production. Two key aspects I’ve carried from the program into my work with students are planning music for a certain repertoire and learning how to engage the audience. Also, being a student myself reminds me of what it's like to be in the learning seat and of the different ways students process lessons and information. What