ALHS to perform in festival

Published 3:31 pm Saturday, April 25, 2015

The annual Big Nine Music Festival will be Friday at Mankato West High School, according to a press release.

The event is the culmination of hours of hard work and preparation from each of the participating schools’ top performing choir, band and orchestra. In addition, top musicians have been selected from each school to rehearse together to prepare special music for the select orchestra, select choir and select band. The festival brings over 2,000 student musicians together to perform for each other and clinicians to showcase the musical talent of the students in the Big Nine Conference.

This is the 83rd annual Big Nine Festival. It began in the spring of 1933 in Austin and has been held every year except 1943, when the war and fuel rationing prevented the festival. It is the oldest festival of its kind in the country and many other music festivals have been patterned after the Big Nine. It is always the first Friday in May at a rotating host school. The Big Nine boasts that it has maintained top quality bands, choirs and orchestras from every school in the conference in the midst of tight budgets due to tremendous administrative and community support. Northfield and Red Wing were added to this event this year, making 12 schools in the Big Nine.

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The daytime performances begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. with a break for lunch. The bands will perform in the Mankato West High School auditorium, the orchestras in the gymnasium and the choirs at the Good Counsel Cathedral sanctuary. The clinicians for the day are Peter Haberman, band clinician from Concordia College, Moorhead; William LaRue Jones, director of orchestras at the University of Iowa; and choral clinician Abbie Betinis, an internationally renown composer from Minneapolis and professor at Concordia, St Paul.

Daytime performances are free and the public is welcome to come and listen. The Albert Lea choir, conducted by Diane Heaney, will sing at 9 a.m. at the church. The ALHS band, conducted by Suzanne Mauer, will play at 11 a.m., and the symphony orchestra, conducted by Rebekah Crissinger, will perform at 2:30 p.m., both at the high school.

The grand finale concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gym. Tickets for this event are $7 for adults and $5 for students. The concert always showcases a performance by the select orchestra, select band and select choir. The concert will conclude with a combined band, choir and orchestral performance of “America the Beautiful.”

Singing in the select choir from Albert Lea are Bailey Ford, Isabel Ehrhardt, Quinn Andersen, Katelyn Hendrickson, Rika Boorsma, Savannah Simpson, Anna Englin, Francesca Eckstrom, Connor Larson, Lukas Severson, Kole Smith, Gabriel Minear, Zane Aumick, Scott Grzybowski, Travis Nemec and Logan Petersen.

Students in the select orchestra are Solveig Lange, Ashlee Whebbe, Jarrod Guildner, Emily Wangen, Justin Christenson and Eric Ronnenberg.

Albert Lea students in select band are Emma Tewes, Marcus Enomoto, Emma Stensrud, Nicole Borneman, Sam Ware, Katie Appel, Lucas Collins, Kayla Overland, Kenny Fjeldberg and Kyle Neidermeier.