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Lifelong Dream Realized When 3 Generations Sing Live at Carnegie Hall

(Photo courtesy of Moffett Craig)
Moffett Craig of Noblesville (right), son Cameron Craig and grandson, Johnathan Baker pose in front of Carnegie Hall before singing together there on stage.

Performing on the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City was one little girl’s dream that finally became a reality at the age of 75.

“This was the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” said Moffett Craig of Noblesville, who as a young classical singer, rather than following her dream, she chose to have a family and put that dream to the back of her mind.

She and her husband, Stephen, both 1965 Noblesville High School graduates, while raising their children, visited many of the tourist locations in New York City, but she never visited nor performed at the beautiful Carnegie Hall.

Until 10 days ago.

And the best part of fulfilling her dream was sharing the moment with her son, Cameron Craig, and grandson, Johnathan Baker, who sang with her on the stage during a most magical-filled weekend.

Imagine, the same stage that Tchaikovsky, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland and The Beatles once performed.

The three generations of Craigs shared the stage at Carnegie Hall on May 29 after their Noblesville First Presbyteran Church Chancel choir director, Michael Davis, who is also assistant artistic director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, in early 2020 was invited to direct and bring a group to sing at Carnegie Hall.

“He encouraged me, Johnathan and Cameron to sign up. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and our opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall was canceled,” Moffett Craig said.

In October of 2021, her choir director received word that there was the possibility of performing the concert in May. So plans began, obtaining the music and getting rehearsal dates that started in January.

“We were provided recordings of our parts, and I worked with those almost every day for five months,” Moffett Craig said. The whole group practiced once a month at church. The Craigs practiced with recordings on their own and practiced with the group at church.

After monthly rehearsals, the singers performed a Carnegie Hall Preview Concert on May 22 at Sursa Performance Hall on the Ball State University campus. It was a public performance with tickets sold.

(Photo courtesy of Moffett Craig)
Moffett Craig of Noblesville, son Cameron Craig (left), Indianapolis Symphonic Choir assistant artistic director and Noblesville Presbyterian Church choir director Michael Davis (second from left), and grandson, Johnathan Baker (right) gather at Carnegie Hall before performing on stage.

Bob Moore and Gail Ratliff were also among the Noblesville residents who performed with the choir at Carnegie Hall.

The Craigs arrived in NYC on Thursday, May 26.

Friday, May 27, was rehearsal day and covid testing for performers at Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture. They all took taxis to rehearsals. They started at 9 a.m. and ended at 6:15 p.m. with breaks for water, lunch and covid testing.

Saturday, May 27, was “vocal rest day,” she said. Her son, Cameron, made arrangements for an early morning tour of the 9/11 Memorial.

Moffett and Johnathan being big fans of Hugh Jackman, they went to see “The Music Man” musical.

Sunday, May 29, it was the last day of dress rehearsal, at 10 a.m. at Carnegie Hall.

“We returned at 1 p.m. dressed in black tux and me in a black dress,” Moffett Craig said. At about 2:15 p.m., they were in line to take the Carnegie Hall stage. “I couldn’t believe the rush of wonder at this opportunity and to experience it by singing with my son and grandson — three generations — I can’t even find the words for how wonderful it was,” she said.

Finally, the Carnegie Chorus 2002 took the stage, with Davis conducting and the Craigs singing. The chorus brought together a sampling of Indiana’s best and most dedicated voices while immersing in two of the most significant compositions performed in one of the world’s most-beautiful acoustical spaces, Davis said.

There were 92 singers from all over the United States in this group of Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Ball State University Singers. Davis conducted the choirs singing English composers’ work, Herbert Howells’ Requiem and Benjamin Britten’s Festival Te Deu (op.32).

After the performance, they gathered for a wonderful reception at Rosie O’Grady’s.

“As Cameron said, ‘This is the best family experience we could ever have, Mom,’” Moffett Craig quoted from her son that day.

(Photo courtesy of Moffett Craig)
Moffett Craig of Noblesville, grandson, Johnathan Baker (from left), Cameron Craig, and Stephen Craig (right) have big smiles outside Carnegie Hall before Moffett, Cameron and Johnathan perform on the famous stage.

Davis said, “Much like training for a marathon, they worked very hard on demanding music. Their finish line they crossed in Carnegie Hall was its own reward. Especially coming out of covid/pandemic when choral singing was shut down for so long, there was an undertow of emotion and expression waiting to be released on the Carnegie Hall stage. And believe me, they did a wonderful job. And they brought two beautiful pieces to life that are extremely rare to hear performed live, even in NYC.”

Moffett (Robinson) Craig has been singing most of her life. She took voice lessons at Butler University while at NHS, when she did a lot of solo work, and then won a scholarship to Ball State University, where she started out as a voice major. She was an alto and sang mostly classical works. She’s directed many musicals at church and was the choral director at Tipton and Noblesville Presbyterian churches. She auditioned and became a member of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir for a few years before taking care of grandson, Johnathan. Craig teaches public speaking at IUPUI and, with her husband, Stephen, 74, (she’s six months older) own Adriene’s Flowers and Gifts, a business that her late father, World War II U.S. Navy veteran Stanley Robinson, co-founded.

Souvenirs from the trip? Carnegie Hall Christmas ornaments, a Carnegie Hall bag, T-shirt for Johnathan that reads, “Ask me about my debut at Carnegie Hall.” Also, a bag and magnet for NHS choir director Mr. Neubauer. Plus, a bunch of Carnegie Hall programs to share with others and for Johnathan’s scrapbook.

Her son, Cameron, 51, is church choir director of the Charleston, Ill., First Presbyterian Church. He was also a vocal major at Indiana State University.  He has sung all over the United States and some of his compositions have also been sung and some have been background music for documentaries. He also has a master’s degree in conducting.

Johnathan, 18, the youngest member of the choir and a 2022 Noblesville High School graduate and member of NHS Singers, has sung a number of recitals for his teacher, the late Jennifer Nicholson. He also took voice lessons from Cynthia Fremling who worked on singing in languages and classical music. He did a 45-minute recital under the direction of Flemling. Moffett Craig was blown away when her grandson had memorized all the music: German, Italian, French, and English. Arias as well as a show tune. Davis, who has attended many of Johnathan’s recitals, invited Johnathan.  

She is so proud of their accomplishment, of which she has saved the playbill with their names printed in it, Johnathan E. Baker, Cameron Douglas Craig and Moffett R. Craig.

“I know that singing at Carnegie Hall is the greatest place we three have ever performed,” Moffett Craig said. “The excitement was much like I felt when I met Mrs. Bush at the White House. But when one sings on a famous stage, it is as if you are soaring with the beauty of the music and glorious sound. And because both pieces are religious, you feel you are singing for God which makes your heart swell. I really can’t explain the feeling, except to say there is nothing as wonderful as sharing an extraordinary experience with your family.”

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7 com