Palys performs at Carnegie Hall

Junior Lukas Palys is accompanied on stage by his accompanist Matthew Lobaugh at Carnegie Hall.
Junior Lukas Palys is accompanied on stage by his accompanist Matthew Lobaugh at Carnegie Hall.

Just two blocks south of Central Park lies the famous Carnegie Hall, a hub for legendary vocalists and accompanists. Walking through the narrow halls past the humble stage entrance, junior Lukas Palys can only imagine the hundreds if not thousands of eyes waiting for his performance.

On Mar. 29, Palys performed “Sure on This Shining Night” in front of a packed audience as a prize for winning the classical repertoire category in the American Protégé International Vocal Competition. His efforts began after his vocalist friends informed him about this competition. He subsequently submitted a couple of videos of his singing and won.

The day of his recital was stressful. Even the special doors, exclusive to performers, were intimidating, but it wasn’t because of their appearance. Instead, they only reminded Palys of his upcoming performance and its prestige. 

“I was walking around the building to the main entrance, but the security guy asked me if I was performing,” Palys said. “I said, ‘Yes.’ So he sent me to the stage door which was really cool because a lot of famous people have been through that door.”

 Leading up to his performance, Palys warmed up his voice with his vocal coach in one of the preparation rooms. Then, he took the stage and readied himself. His accompanist sat down on his stool, waiting for Palys’s signal to begin. Palys bowed to the crowd and lifted his eyes.

“I was only out there for about two minutes, maybe a little less,” Palys said. “I mean, it felt pretty long, and I can remember my thoughts during the performance. I was very nervous before going on stage. I was sitting in (the) hallway with my accompanist just getting dialed in, and I was silent. Then they opened the door once the last person finished, and I walked out. I was just thinking about how crazy it was.”

Although he had performed this song multiple times before and wasn’t worried about messing up, Palys experienced an unpreventable difficulty: his voice just sounded different. He understood that everyone’s voice was marginally different each day, so his desire for perfection caused him to overthink the song. 

“I sang the first 30 seconds of the song, thinking about my technique,” Palys said. “There’s also a really hard passage (in the middle of the song), so I was thinking only about my techniques then too. But once I finished that part of the song, I remember thinking, ‘why am I thinking about technique right now, I should be thinking about the fact that I’ve performed at Carnegie Hall.’ I spent the latter half of the piece thinking about where I was, and I was still acting so immersed in the piece, but I was just taking it all in.”

Each week Palys practices two times with a coach and shorter bits on his own each day. He spends two to three hours on weekends during his scheduled lessons and hopefully fits in 20 minutes on weekdays. His next goal is to win the ultimate prize of $10,000 at a competition in Sarasota, Florida.

More to Discover