iUniversity Prep student Natalie McLaren gives us the inside scoop of what it is like to perform at Carnegie Hall.

What is Carnegie Hall?

Carnegie Hall, located in Manhattan, New York, is one of the most prestigious music halls in all of history. It was built during the years 1889-1891 and was designed and founded by Andrew Carnegie and his family who owned it until 1925. They built it with the intention to be a place where people can perform in front of any size crowd, and it has set the stage for great talents to arise and make a name for themselves in the world. People like Renee Fleming, Arlo Guthrie, and Josh Ritter are only a few of the amazing performers who have gotten to shine on this grand stage.


The Marvelous Ms. McLaren

Natalie McLaren is a 3rd-year student at iUniversityPrep, a senior in high school (12th grade), and has a passion for singing and playing the piano, which she has been doing since she was a little girl. She said, “There was a mutual interest and if you could think of a child getting into the instrument simply because they like the instrument, that would be me!” This passion has led to a lot of amazing experiences for Natalie. One of her most memorable would be singing at Carnegie Hall, which she got to experience in December of 2021. From the process of being delayed and postponed multiple times to finally getting her chance on the big stage, let’s see what happens when given the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall.



The Audition Process

Natalie auditioned to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2019. She entered the “Golden Voices of America” competition, submitting a video of two songs, “Ribbons Down My Back” from Hello Dolly and “I Dreamed a Dream”. She explains this process by saying, “If you place, then they pick one and you sing it at a winner’s concert at Carnegie Hall.” Her songs were a success, placing her 3rd in her age division with a spot to perform at Carnegie Hall! Since the Coronavirus spread was still a recent development, the date kept getting postponed. But finally, after the pandemic had pumped the brakes, Natalie got her chance to perform at Carnegie Hall on December 11, 2021.


A Roller-Coaster of Emotions

Natalie took a plane to NYC and stayed for three days. When the time came for her to perform on the big stage, she had loads of emotions like nerves and excitement. A lot of the kids performing alongside Natalie were also feeling these same emotions. So when her family came in from out of town, she began to feel more relaxed and less pressured since she knew that they would be supportive of her no matter what. When interviewing, Natalie she said, “Most people had their parents and maybe grandparents but that was about it, but me on the other hand, I was looking into the audience and saw a whole row of my family!” It’s safe to say that the experience would not have been the same if her family was not there. 


Singing Her Heart Out

Backstage prior to her performance, everyone was required to wear masks. It was very crowded and hot behind the curtain, especially in their formal attire. During her performance, which was in front of a crowd of about 100 people, she sang her winning song “Ribbons Down My Back” from Hello Dolly. She again had so many emotions filling her when this was going on. Natalie went on to say that “It was very stressful to be sitting backstage, but once I got onto the stage and started singing all the nerves and butterflies went away.” After she sang she got to sit in the best seats in the house on the balcony and watch the other people performing. 

From auditioning in 2019 to finally getting her moment on the big stage in 2021, Natalie says that she is so grateful and honored that she got the opportunity to have this experience and promises to keep performing in the years to come. Look out, world, for Natalie McLaren!!