It has been a busy spring for the music department at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School. It’s a good thing, according to Band Director Claire Larson and Choir Director Stephanie Schumacher.
“Busy” has meant fun learning, exceptional performances and critical accolades.
Large Group Contests
The Large Group Ensemble Contests held March 6 at Cannon Falls High School brought Superior ratings for both the K-W high school band and choir.
The choir performed “Wanting Memories” by Ysaye Barnwell, “Flight Song” by Kim Andre Arnesen and “Ching-a-Ring Chaw” by Aaron Copland.
Schumacher selected a work by a Norwegian composer because of the upcoming K-W music and community trip to Norway in early June. The first line of “Flight Song” says, “All we are we have found in song,” words from the poem by Euan Tait, set to music by Arnesen.
Following the contest, Schumacher wrote on the K-W High School Chorale Facebook page: “After our day at large group contest, I am even more thankful for the amazing young men and women I am lucky enough to teach every day. Yes, we earned all three superior ratings today, and that’s wonderful! But what’s better is that they did it with class. They acted maturely, and sang to the best of their ability. They took risks to become better musicians. They worked together as a team. They added beauty to our world. And all of those things are much more important to me than any numbers.”
Small Group & Individual Contest
At the solo ensemble contest on March 28, K-W students competed individually and in small groups at Pine Island High School.
Groups receiving Superior ratings in band: brass choir, flute choir, Celia Woock and Katie Van Epps flute duet and the horn/trumpet duet by Matthew and John Helland.
Individuals receiving band Superiors: Corynne Dahl, Katie Van Epps (3), Celia Woock (3), Brynn Gillard, Megan Mattson, Julianna Boyum, Brianna Ryan, Arlette Becerril, Lauren Berg, Cole Flom, Cole Axelson, Daniel Benrud, Sophie kyllo, Kasandra Keller, Spencer Miner, Tess Hokanson, Aisha Ramirez, Matthew Helland and John Helland.
In choir, the following groups won Superior ratings: two soprano/alto ensembles, soprano/alto/tenor baritone quartet and two duets.
Individuals with superior vocal performance ratings: Kira Quam (2), Kendra Mason, Payton Vaudrin, Trinity Blowers (2), Skye Blauer, Sophie Kyllo (3), Belle Patterson (2), Morgyn Schaefer, Shelby Noah, Riley Dummer, Julianna Boyum, Nora Woock, Amber Olson (3), Madison Thompson, Sydney Poquette, Clay Stevenson, Mitchell Ades, and Matthew Helland.
Two named Best in Site
Freshman flutist Katie Van Epps was named Best in Site with her selection of “Polonaise and Badinerie” by J.S. Bach.
Larson said the judge noted Katie gave the best performance he heard not only all day, but all year in the nine contests he judged at big music programs in the Twin Cities.
“He continued that all of his comments were superlatives...he just couldn’t really give her any criticism on such an excellent performance,” Larson said.
Van Epps will perform with the Minnesota Band Directors Association State (9-10) Honors Band, coming up the weekend of April 21-22 at Chanhassen High School.
Amber Olson, whose strong voice carried her through the role of the Baker’s Wife in the K-W musical, “Into the Woods,” also received the Best in Site award out of 32 vocalists for her solo “Quella Fiamma.” Readers will remember that she and Sophie Kyllo were the first K-W students ever selected to sing in the Minnesota All State Choir in 2018.
Copper Street Brass residency
The Copper Street Brass Quintet brought some outside energy to the school on March 23 when they came for a residency with K-W band students. Larson was able to secure a $3,000 grant from South Eastern Minnesota Arts Council to bring in the nationally recognized quintet.
“It was an inspiring day!” Larson said.
In the morning the CSB members worked in a master class setting with the high school band, followed by a discussion and information session with middle school students in the early afternoon. The day culminated in an energetic concert for the entire school, with an open invitation to members of the community as well.
Following a song by the flute choir (preparing for contest), the quintet shared the stage with the K-W brass choir, playing side by side with the students.
The CSB performance reaffirmed that this quality group of musicians likes to mix things up, arranging anything from Adele and The Beatles to opera and classical repertoire. They challenged the students to be creative and innovative —take a song they like and find a way to fit it to their own instrument.
All State Band & Choir
Kasandra Keller (horn) and Celia Woock (flute) submitted auditions for the All State Band. Amber Olson and Sophie Kyllo auditioned for the All State Choir, hoping to reprise their appearance of last year.
Norway theme in 2018
The K-W spring music concerts (both high school and middle school) have a theme of “Celebrating the Music of Norway and America!” During the Norway trip, students will visit the home of famed composer Edvard Grieg and perform a musical exchange concert, among their other activities.
Students had the opportunity to apply for several scholarships to help with expenses. Students wrote an essay about how they would use music to benefit music students, their school and their community.
Thuan Vuong, an 8th grade trumpet player, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship given by an anonymous donor. In his essay, Thuan outlined how he would organize a small musical band that would practice together, build a repertoire and then perform music at community events and locations.
Belle Patterson received a $400 scholarship for the trip. According to vocal music director Schumacher, Belle will organize and schedule vocalists to perform the National Anthem at home sports games next year when the pep band is not available to play.