NEW YORK – Casey Funk found the 19-hour bus ride from the The Heartland of America to The Big Apple kind of boring.
Well, extremely boring.
It’s not so boring now.
“But, as soon as I saw the New York skyline, my attitude complete changed,” said Funk, son of Jeff and Monica Funk.
Funk and 69 students and chaperones Vinton-Shellsburg Music Department traveled to New York City to see the sites and learned during studio workshops. Choir members also performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, toured movie and television sites around the city, visited Grant’s Tomb, the Statue of Liberty, the 911 Memorial and watched shows on Broadway.
They return on Saturday after departing on Monday.
Laurie Ortner, whose son, Brock, is among the students, is supplying an update and photos of the trip. Funk and others also are giving their perspectives.
Here’s Ortner’s perspective for Wednesday morning.
“Day 2: NYC stopped at Grant’s Tomb for a group shoot before heading to cathedral. St. John the Devine. The choir performed a few songs.”
On Wednesday, the focus was on art with an emphasis on Broadway, according to Brock Ortner.
“We started our day with a performance by our Vinton Shellsburg choir in St. John’s Cathedral, which is the largest (in terms of length) in the world,” said Brock.
His mother, Laurie, found the experience very moving,
“The emotion I felt, I’ve never felt before,” said Laurie. “I truly believe I was being shown how merciful God is in his house.”
They then went to Broadway and ate lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which served American food such as found in restaurants in Iowa, but with a twist: the waiters and waitresses sang songs as food was served.
“We learned about the diner and it’s purpose to offer a job to prospective performers as they audition for shows.”
Laurie said she understands why so many of the restaurant’s employees make it to Broadway.
“Last year alone 28 people or 33 percent of there staff was hired for Broadway shows,” said Laurie.
Like many newcomers to New York City, Funk was struck by its size and its diversity.
“I was in awe of just how big everything is here,” said Funk, who lives in a community where the biggest structure is a grain elevator.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a few hours to walk around Rockefeller Plaza and up and down 5th Avenue.”
And Radio City Music Hall, which was “awesome.”
“Rehearsals for the Tony Awards rehearsals were underway and the students from Iowa had a sneak peek during their tour.
“James Corden was in the building too, which was insane. (The students did not have the opportunity to see The Late Late Night Show host.)
“It was a really great first day (Tuesday), and I was completely in awe of how many people are here and all the different cultures you see around the city.”
Funk said St. John’s Cathedral was beautiful, with stunning architecture. Hearing the choir sing there was an amazing experience.
“It was amazing getting to experience such amazing acoustics (There was almost a seven second ring!),” said Funk.
After lunch, a guide took them on a “New York City Movie Tour.
“Here we drove around the city with a tour guide and he pointed out places that had been used in movies, showed us clips of said movies, and we even had some long conversations about life in between areas.” said Brock.
“During the tour we got to see the facade of the Friends apartment (but not the actual apartment unfortunately) along with over 50 more sites like Trump Tower and Washington Square Garden (in the Greenwich Village area of Lower Manhattan.”
They then ate a quick supper at Times Square and headed towards our Broadway show. There was a choice between The Lion King and Wicked.
Around 15 of the group went to see The Lion King and the rest went to see Wicked.
“This was an absolutely amazing opportunity, especially for someone who wants to be on Broadway one day,” said Funk. “The amazing vocals were just the start, as the dancing, set, and just the atmosphere in general of a Broadway theatre added to an amazing conclusion to our second day.”
The Ortners watched the movie of The Lion King many times when Brock was younger.
“This was an experience of a life I will never forget seeing it on Broadway,” said Laurie Ortner. “Absolutely amazing and I was happy to experience this with Brock. They announced at the end of the show it was their 9,000th show, so that was cool too.”