Students to perform at Big Nine Music Festival

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The annual Big Nine Music Festival will be on Friday at John Marshall High School in Rochester. 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 84th 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 held the last Friday in April at a rotating host school. According to a press release, 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, largely due to tremendous administrative and community support. The 12 schools in the Big Nine include Albert Lea, Austin, Faribault, Mankato West and East, Northfield, Owatonna, Red Wing, Winona and Mayo, John Marshall and Century in Rochester.

Email newsletter signup

The daytime performances begin at 8:15 a.m. and continue until 3:15 p.m. with a break for lunch.  The bands will perform in John Marshall’s Ilstrup auditorium, the orchestras in John Marshall High School gymnasium and the choirs at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church sanctuary. The clinicians for the day are Richard Mark Heidel, band clinician from the University of Iowa; Mark Russell Smith, director of orchestras at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities; and choral clinician, Gene D. Peterson, professor at Bethel University in Mendota Heights. Daytime performances are free and the public is most welcome to come and listen.

The Albert Lea choir conducted by Diane Heaney will sing at 8:15 a.m. at the church. The ALHS band conducted by Suzanne Mauer will play at 10:15 a.m. at the high school and the symphony orchestra conducted by Rebekah Crissinger will perform at 1:15 p.m. at the high school.

The grand finale concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the John Marshall High School gymnasium.  Tickets for this event are $7 for adults and $5 for students. The concert 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 Tianna Abrego, Ashley Willet, Kendra Manges, Alyssa Christensen, Francesca Eckstrom, Emma Olson, Nikki Bos, Amy Sanderson, Lukas Severson, Nathan Hensche, Jared Schmidt, Sam Ehrhardt, Travis Nemec, Logan Petersen, Schafer Overgaard and Aaron Zogg.

Simon Knettig, Jens Lange, Morgan Phillips, Ashlee Whebbe, Theresa Wolfe, Emily Wangen, Abby Sencio and Eric Ronnenberg will play with the select orchestra.

Select band members are Alana Skarstad, Madeline Phillips, Rachel Wangen, Anna Boettcher, Emma Tewes, Darren Guildner, Kyle Neidermeier, William Kreun, Kayla Overland and Sam Ware.