The Eastern High School Choir was invited to compete in 1988 at the prestigious choral competition, the International Youth and Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. The choir overcame insurmountable obstacles with singers who could not read music, learning required competition music by Mozart and Borodin in Latin and German, respectively, and raising $160,000 to travel.

Vienna Fundraising Kickoff - JC Hayward
Vienna Fundraising Kickoff – JC Hayward

1988 JC Hayward, WUSA9 news anchor, was the Mistress of Ceremony for the 1988 Fundraising Kick-off Reception to raise money to travel to Vienna.

Judges applaud as Joyce Garrett receives silver trophy. Eighteen different choirs from schools around the world competed by performing classic compositions like Kyrie in D Minor by Wolfgang A. Mozart and Polovetsian Dances by Alexander Borodin. The Eastern High School choir rose to the occasion and was awarded the silver trophy. No third-place trophy was awarded due to the widespread of points between the first and second place awardees and the rest of the competition.

President Ronald Reagan invited the choir to give a performance in the East Room of the White House. The Choir received praise and accolades upon their return to the city.

Natalia Rodriguez, co-founder and producer of Elan Recordings, offered to record a compact disc of the choir at no cost. The CD contained a mixture of songs from all genres of music, including the songs the choir sang for the Vienna competition.