Ian Snyder, age 15, of Dover Township, was recently selected for the 2016 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. Paul Kuehnel
Super Bowl Sunday didn’t involve football and hot wings for 15-year-old Ian Snyder.
It wasn’t about cheering for his favorite team or even waiting for the Budweiser and Doritos commercials.
Instead, it was about fulfilling a dream.
While most of the population was making food and gearing up for their Super Bowl parties, Snyder was preparing for the biggest performance of his singing career.
Back in September, the Dover teen found out he had been selected to perform First Tenor with the Honors Ensemble for the 2016 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. Of the 18,000 nominations received, Snyder was one of 750 high school students from around the world selected for the performance.
“I knew that if my voice teacher nominated me, I thought there might have been a chance,” Snyder said.
He recorded and submitted two songs for his audition. But, still, he never expected to get in.
When he received his acceptance letter, Snyder said he remembers being surprised and very excited.
“But, it was so much better than what I could have imagined at the moment,” he said.
Despite wanting to pursue a professional career in music, Snyder said he had never been to the Big Apple before.
Right away, he felt like he belonged.
In between three days of eight-hour rehearsals, Snyder and his fellow students took the opportunity to explore the city. They saw the view from Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, saw “Wicked” – Snyder’s first Broadway show, and ate dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where they watched struggling actors and actresses perform.
“It was great to see because they were amazing performers, but they would come back and serve your table,” Snyder said. “You saw that they were real people.”
Seeing that and working alongside peers who had similar interests made Snyder feel more comfortable performing on a big stage.
Only recently did he become confident performing in public. He started out performing at DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre and worked his way up to his first professional performance last summer in the teen ensemble for Fulton Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz."
But nothing prepares you for the moment you walk on stage at Carnegie Hall for the first time.
The first thing you notice looking out into the crowd is the beautiful venue, he said. But as soon as the choir begins to sing, you hear the sounds resonating everywhere.
“Going from rehearsal at the hotel to Carnegie Hall, the acoustics were so magical,” he said. “It sounded heavenly the way the choir sang our songs.”
Snyder, along with the rest of the Honors Ensemble, performed six songs – ranging from classical to folk to gospel to musical theater – for a crowd of about 1,500 people that Sunday afternoon.
“It was so weird to be standing on a stage with everyone else and see thousands of people in the audience,” Snyder said. “You feel like you’re tiny people in a big (room).”
But the best part, he said, was just having the opportunity to sing and practice with “amazing kids.”
“I thought (the best part) would be performing at Carnegie Hall, but it was spending time with them,” he said. “It was interesting to see everyone who has the same interests as you but from all around the world.”
Forty-nine of the 50 states were represented in the ensemble, along with students from four Canadian provinces, Guam and other foreign countries. Snyder said he was the only student chosen from York County, although he did meet a few students from as nearby as Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
Snyder said he loved everything about his first New York experience, even the way the pigeons came up to him on the sidewalk.
“There’s just so much to see,” he said. “Every street has something new to notice.”
After returning home Sunday night, Snyder said his next goal is to get into a good college so he can continue singing and doing what he loves. But someday, he hopes to return to New York.
“I really love the city,” he said. “It’s all the lights and excitement and creativity. It does feel like home when I’m there. It felt right.”