Local girl makes Carnegie debut


Viktoria Bichet and her grandmother: an experience of a lifetime.

Less than two weeks ago, Hillsboroan Viktoria Bichet made her Carnegie Hall singing debut, courtesy of her grandmother, Carol Bichet, and the Newman University Trouba?dours.

The Troubadours, joined by the Bichets, performed original compositions by John Leavitt, including ?Symphony of Songs.?

Leavitt, a nationally known composer and conductor and former professor at Newman and Friends universities, directed their June 13 Carnegie Hall performance.

?Singing in Carnegie Hall was pretty incredible,? Viktoria said. ?The acoustics were great and the architecture is beautiful.?

After their performance, the audience gave the group a standing ovation.

?That just added to everything,? Viktoria said about the ovation. ?It really was great.?

Being guest members of Newman?s select vocal ensemble made it possible for the Bichets to spend four days in New York City?as a gift from her grandmother to Viktoria, 18, who graduated from Hillsboro High School in May.

Initially the pair had planned to travel to NYC with a church group from Hutchinson.

?They ended up not getting enough people to go,? Viktoria said, so her grandmother asked whether she wanted to travel with a different group or just with the two of them.

?I told her it would be awesome if she could find a group,? Viktoria said. ?So she got the phone number from the guy who actually works at Carnegie Hall to call Deanne (Zogleman), who?s the choral director over at Newman.?

Her grandmother made the call, and Zogleman ?welcomed us with open arms, and said, ?Yes, you can come with us. That?d be fun.??

The Bichets both have past choral singing experience?Viktoria in the HHS choir for four years, including singing with the Kansas Music Educators Association district choir, and her grandmother in church choirs and other choral groups.

Viktoria attributed those past experiences as easing any anxieties about performing at Carnegie.

?Singing in front of a large audience like that really wasn?t that nervous for me,? she said. ?It was just taking in the whole experience.?

After a couple of rehearsals with the Troubadours in Wichita, the Bichets were ready for their NYC trip, which began June 10 when they flew out of Wichita with the others.

The four-day trip included rehearsals and the performance at Carnegie as well as sightseeing to such places as Greenwich Village, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Rockefeller Center.

?With the group, we had the luxury of having the shuttle bus taking us to and from all the different places,? Viktoria said. ?It was a big advantage.?

The Bichets also spent free time on their own, taking in two Broadway shows, ?The Lion King? and the ?Phantom of the Opera.?

Both were incredible performances, Viktoria said.

?We had second-row seats?it was a phenomenal show,? Viktoria said about ?Phantom of the Opera.?

She also got to experience the New York City subway.

?That was kind of scary,? Viktoria said.

While in NYC, the Bichets stayed at Park Central Hotel on Seventh Avenue.

?It?s just a few blocks from Times Square and a couple of blocks from Central Park?right across the street from Carnegie Hall,? she said. ?I mean, we were right there.?

After the Saturday night performance, the Bichets and the entire Newman group joined a cruise around Staten Island that lasted until 2 a.m.

?They played music that was more age-appropriate for teenagers,? Viktoria said about the entertainment on the cruise. ?All the ladies, no matter what their age, were out there dancing?. We all had a good time. We just kind of celebrated the experience we had all shared together. It was a lot of fun.?

On the cruise, the boat passed by the Statue of Liberty.

?We were very literally right in front of it,? she said. ?We could see the whole thing. That was really cool.?

The only downsides of the trip were the drizzling rain and a late-night fire siren their first night at the hotel.

?I looked out the window and fire trucks were parked outside (the hotel), and there?s four of them,? Viktoria said.

The Bichets called the front desk.

?They had no idea what was going on?that there were fire trucks there,? she said. ?That was little nerve-racking.?

Now back in Hillsboro, Viktoria plans to work full-time at ASAP Auto Glass, her dad?s business.

?That?s what I?m doing because I want to start my own business eventually,? she said. ?I?d like to open up my own bar and grill. I?m going to do some online business classes eventually?do my degree that way rather than a four-year school.?

She helps her father install windshields?prepping the windows, getting him the tools he needs and taking apart the interior when needed.

?It?s a lot of labor,? she said.

But even as she faces the reality of working, her experience in New York City will be one to remember for a long time.

?The whole Newman group were really welcoming, and accepted both me and my grandma, and thought my grandma was really cool,? Viktoria said.

?I met a lot of new friends. It was really a fantastic time all the way around.?

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