MARILYN HAGERTY: Countdown to Feb.17 begins

He's a tenor. He's only 13, but as long as Carson Herbert of Thompson, N.D., can remember he has been listening to the radio and singing. On Valentine's Day, Carson will be among 95 members of the Grand Cities Children's Choir heading to New York...

Marilyn Hagerty

He’s a tenor. He’s only 13, but as long as Carson Herbert of Thompson, N.D., can remember he has been listening to the radio and singing.

On Valentine’s Day, Carson will be among 95 members of the Grand Cities Children’s Choir heading to New York. They will sing Feb. 17 in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

The amazing opportunity came about after Melanie Popejoy, director, received the invitation from conductor Greg Gilpin, who was once a student when she was teaching in Missouri.

Excitement runs rampant among the Grand Forks Children’s Choir members and 14 adults who will accompany them. The choir is made up of the oldest students in the four divisions of the Children’s Choir.

Choir members and friends have been raising funds and are close to their goal of $200,000 for the trip. The money has come from businesses and private donors. The choir members have taken part in fundraisers at Pizza Ranch.


And the singers have gone out to sell Butter Braids - bread with different fillings.

They are near the last $3,000 to be raised for their trip.

Like most of the choir, Carson Herbert has never been in New York City. He lives in Thompson, and he says it has always been on his bucket list. He is spinning dreams of seeing Rockefeller Center and skating there and going to the top.

The choir’s five-day itinerary includes two musicals, “Newsies” and “Wicked.” They will hear the choir at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and visit Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Sightseeing and shopping in Times Square is on the list.

They will fly home on Feb. 18 after the performance on Feb. 17 at Carnegie Hall.

Four adults making the trip will also be singing in the performance. They are Warren Roehl, father of Alexis and Grace Roehl; Melissa DeMars, mother of Shanlee Cox; Barb Shauer, with her son Michael, and Grant Christianson who is the uncle of Matt Dunham.

For Evan Welsh, 15, the appearance in Carnegie Hall promises to be a mountain top experience. And more. He will be joining on stage his grandfather, Rick Foss, a singer and President of Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

This is the 12th season for the Grand Cities Children’s Choir with Melanie Popejoy as the founder and artistic director. She formerly was on the staff at Valley Middle School in Grand Forks and is now associate director of choral activities at UND.


This upper division choir is made up of seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students. It presents spring and fall concerts and performs in the area. They were in concert during the Christmas season at the Empire Arts Center. They are the oldest choir group, with three younger choirs. There are a total of 250 children singing in the four divisions of the Grand Cities Children’s Choir.

The big invitation came about after Popejoy sent a recording to Gilpin, the former student now editor of Shawnee Press and a composer.

After the initial invitation and quality recording check, the Grand Forks Children’s Choir was formally offered the invitation to sing in “Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Shawnee Press” concert Feb. 17. The two guest conductors for the performance are nationally renowned composers Gilpin and Joseph Martin. The choir will sing 11 of their compositions, one of which was written specifically for the event. 

For Evan Welsh the trip to New York seems unreal – even though the choir was told of it last year. He’s a baritone and has been with the choir for two years. He has sisters and friends who have been part of the choir.

Singing, he says, allows you to be yourself. Along with the weekly rehearsals, he practices singing at home.

Reach Hagerty at  or  (701) 772-1055 .

Melanie Popejoy

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