From the classroom to Carnegie


Used with permission by Jo Kimball

LHS senior Jo Kimball performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City this February.

Kate Matthes, News Editor

LHS senior Jo Kimball was chosen to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall this February in New York City, fulfilling a dream of theirs. 

Kimball has been involved in music for as long as they can remember, from singing to playing instruments, music has been constant for them. Kimball has been in choir since sixth grade, has taken vocal lessons for about six years and is currently in the jazz choir at LHS. In addition to their singing abilities, Kimball was also involved in Band and Orchestra for several years and plays the trumpet.

“Music has always been something that I love,” said Kimball. “I feel like there is definitely a healing power to music and it definitely helps you grow as a person.”

Kimball’s passion for music has led them to perform and sing many times, including at the LHS variety show last fall where they performed a duet of “I Put a Spell on You” with sophomore Jackson Klawonn.

“I really love vocal jazz, that’s definitely one of my favorite [types of music],” said Kimball. “You can just express yourself so much more, you can improv.” 

In February 2023, Kimball was given the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York, one of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. The hall, which opened in the 1890s and is named after its main contributor, the millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, has hosted many legendary artists over the years from Tchaikovsky to The Beatles. Singers such as Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone have also given performances at Carnegie along with Simon and Garfunkel and even Led Zeppelin. Carnegie Hall has given a spotlight to icons like Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, virtuosos like Vladimir Horowitz and many other talented musicians. With its long history as a center for musical excellence, Carnegie Hall has earned itself a reputation as one of the most famous concert halls and the title of National Historic Landmark.

Kimball first found out about the Carnegie Hall performance in 2022 when they received a letter in the mail inviting them to apply for the honor choir; they held onto the letter despite receiving similar mail often.

“I got a letter last summer in the mail. I was a part of their pool because I had done honors choir before,” said Kimball. “I saw that it was in New York so I was like ‘oh my god I want to audition.’”

 In August, applicants had to write a short essay about why they love music and why they should be chosen for the performance. In addition, Kimball sang two solos for their audition, one a folk song and one in Italian. In November, Kimball found out the results while at an oral interpretation tournament: they had been chosen. 

Out of about 20,000 applicants internationally about 500 people were chosen for the Carnegie performance. This included a band, orchestra, high voice choir and a 100-person honors choir, which Kimball was a part of. 

“We had a dress rehearsal on the stage and we walked out and sang one of our songs to get the sound checked and I literally started crying. One, it was an emotional song and two it was a lot to take in, it was just surreal, ” said Kimball. “It was a huge hall and literally gorgeous; the ceiling is all decorated and there are lights everywhere, it’s amazing.” 

Kimball’s performance took place the first week of February, after arriving in New York Kimball had three days of rehearsal from about eight a.m. to five p.m. each day in preparation for the seven-song set they would be a part of. Kimball’s choir was part of the matinee performance along with the band and high voice choir, there was also an evening performance later in the day. Directing Kimball’s honors choir was none other than ASCAP award-winning conductor and composer Greg Gilpin. 

“I saw his name and I was like, ‘I kinda recognize that,’ and it’s because he’s written and composed so many pieces of music that our [LHS] choir has done. It’s crazy because he’s literally a genius so it was an honor,” said Kimball. 

Kimball was accompanied to New York by their mother and grandmother who got to watch the performance. The group left Sioux Falls early to see New York and explore.

“Just going to New York was something I’d always wanted to do. I got to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Wicked,’ dreams of mine to see both of those shows,” said Kimball. “Overall, it was probably one of the best experiences of my life.”

After high school, Kimball is planning to study music education at Gustavus Adolphus in Minnesota in part because of its choir program and also because of its small-school feel.

“End goal, I’d like to get my Ph.D and teach at the college level,” said Kimball.

One of the people who have had a big impact on Kimball both in music and life is their voice teacher Whitney Warner, who they have been working with for six years.

“She does it all and I really, really admire that. She’s so talented and she’s helped me grow in so many ways. I’m always gonna be thankful for her,” said Kimball.

Overall, music has been a positive influence in Kimball’s life. There is one quote in particular that Kimball finds truth in which comes from the poet Maya Angelou: “music was my refuge.”

“Music is something that I feel can help so many people,” said Kimball. “That is definitely something that I’ve experienced because I’ve gone through a lot of stuff and found that music is [a refuge].”