Members of the Mariner High School chamber choir rehearse at the school March 29. The choir will perform Saturday at Carnegie Hall in New York City. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Members of the Mariner High School chamber choir rehearse at the school March 29. The choir will perform Saturday at Carnegie Hall in New York City. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Yes, they’ve been practicing — a lot — to get to Carnegie Hall

Mariner High’s chamber choir is in New York to sing where “only the best of the best get to perform.”

EVERETT — Joshua Thompson sings in the car, the hall, the shower.

“Everywhere I possibly can,” the 17-year-old Mariner High School senior said.

This week, it’s New York City. And in a place where the acoustics will be much better than the shower.

He and members of the Mariner chamber choir will perform Saturday at Carnegie Hall.

“They will sing in an acoustically perfect hall where voices ring to the back of the room,” choir director Patricia Schmidt said. “When you are looking out, there are eight to 10 rows of lights that are all kind of going around at once. It’s a spectacle.”

It is the third time Schmidt’s students are going to Carnegie Hall in her 14 years of teaching at Mariner. Joshua’s older sister went to New York with the choir in 2012. The choir went again in 2014.

The choir’s gold level award at a competition last year in California qualified them to earn the invitation for Carnegie Hall.

“You have to work really hard to get to that level,” Schmidt said.

Just as that old saying goes: “Practice. Practice. Practice.”

At Carnegie, they will share the stage with about six other schools for a public show as part of the National Youth Choir. The six songs include “Can You Imagine” and the South African greeting song, “Hlohonolofatsa.”

About 30 students, mainly juniors and seniors, and eight parents are expected to arrive in New York on Thursday morning after an overnight flight. The first-day itinerary includes Central Park and the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, seeing the musical “Aladdin” at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway and squeezing in a choir rehearsal.

The Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and Times Square also are on the schedule before heading home Monday after a stop at Rockefeller Center. Watch for the Mariner students singing and waving signs in the plaza on Monday’s live taping of the “Today” show, just in case they catch the attention of cameras. How could they not?

The trip cost about $1,700 per person. Some students earned the money doing Ivar’s fundraising in concessions at ball games at Husky Stadium and CenturyLink Field.

Choir participation is a ticket to new places for many students. The choir usually travels somewhere every year, typically to California or Florida, with a theme park visit included.

“We have people who have never flown on an airplane before. Or have never been out of the state or the Seattle area,” Schmidt said.

“It opens their eyes to the potentials of things that, hey, this is out there and when you graduate you can set goals and make things happen and you can go places and can do things. It’s another important aspect of education.”

What’s it like taking 30 students?

“We’ve never lost anyone,” Schmidt said.

The Carnegie Hall gig is not a competition. It is pure performance. Tickets are $40 to $85 for the show, which is part of a festival to showcase elite student choirs, bands and orchestras nationwide.

“There are a lot of professional singers who have never had the opportunity to perform there,” Schmidt said.

Choir director Patricia Schmidt leads a rehearsal for the Mariner High School chamber choir at school March 29. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Choir director Patricia Schmidt leads a rehearsal for the Mariner High School chamber choir at school March 29. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

“Someday they will be saying that to someone and that person will go, ‘No way.’ I’ve had students come back and say, ‘Ms. Schmidt, I didn’t know it was such a big deal to sing in Carnegie Hall.’ The students don’t really know what it is until they go there and experience it. You can share the vision, but you don’t actually own it until it happens.”

Kyra Floyd, a Mariner sophomore, is ready to own it.

“It blows my mind,” Kyra said. “Only the best of the best get to perform there. Every day we work on small details of the song and making sure we get every little thing and pushing ourselves to the highest extent.”

Before New York, she’d only been to California and Indiana.

Joshua had barely ventured out of Snohomish County.

“Seattle is the biggest city I’ve ever experienced,” Joshua said. “I haven’t even been out of the U.S., even. It’s crazy. We’re right by Canada and I haven’t been. I could almost walk there.”

After high school and his two-year church mission, you might hear him singing again — at the salon.

“I am going to beauty school,” he said.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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