Carson residents to sing at Carnegie Hall |

Carson residents to sing at Carnegie Hall

Samantha Fredrickson, Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City residents Don and Cathy Thayer will be singing in their first concert in a few weeks.

And they’re not starting at the bottom either. They’re headed straight to Carnegie Hall.

The husband and wife duo will be taking the stage with 548 other singers from around the world to form the Voices of Baha’i. The group will perform in the four-day “Festival of the Arts” celebrating the Baha’i faith.

“I’m still sort of amazed that I’m part of all this,” Don said. “It’s almost hard to believe.”

The Thayers have been singing in the local Baha’i choir for a year. But neither has ever sung before a public audience.

They auditioned for musical director Tom Price, along with others from all over the country.

Cathy auditioned in person with Price last September, when she attended a chorale camp.

But Don, like most other participants, auditioned over the phone.

“I really did not think I stood a chance of making it,” he said.

Five other Northern Nevadans also auditioned and were chosen to sing with the Voices of Baha’i.

While the seven Northern Nevada participants have been practicing together weekly since May, the entire 550-member choir will not have the chance to sing together until five days before the concert.

Each person chosen to sing with Voices of Baha’i received sheet music and a CD with their part, so they could practice individually. The difficult part, Don said, will be practicing together.

The Voices of Baha’i have been performing, with different members, all over the world for the past 10 years. Festival of the Arts participant, Candy Fife, of Reno, sang with the group 10 years ago at the Second Baha’i World Congress.

“It’s always a reunion whenever Baha’is get together like this,” Fife said. “We always have fun.”

Don Thayer explained the world congress is a worldwide gathering of members of the Baha’i faith. When the world congress met in 1992 it had been 50 years since the first world congress.

This year’s Festival of the Arts will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Second Baha’i World Congress.

The Thayers were not singers at the time of the congress but they were able to attend, which Don said was an amazing experience. Especially considering world congresses are not often held.

The Thayers have been members of the Baha’i faith for 25 years. Don explained he heard about the religion through a coworker. After extensive reading about the religion, he said he realized this is what he was looking for.

Cathy, who was engaged to Don at the time, became interested in the religion as well.

“I always felt that religion should be a source of community between people,” Cathy said. “It’s(Baha’i) accepting of all religions.”

She went on to explain that the Baha’i faith believes there is only one God and the prophets from other religions were all sent by that God.

Because Baha’i believes in all religions, the songs they will sing at the festival will incorporate this.

“Amazing Grace,” a Christian song, is one of the 16 songs the group will be singing, Fife said.

Music and the arts are very important to the Baha’i faith, explained Cathy. The founder of the religion, Bah+’u’ll+h, believed music was the stairway to the soul. And Cathy agrees.

“Music really helps your soul,” Cathy said. “I am praising God through music. It makes me feel very spiritual when I do it.”

The Festival of the Arts will be held from June 24-30, with the voices of Baha’i singing on the last night. Reno participants in the festival are Peter and Hilary Rath and David and Cyndi Maytan.