High school musicians prepare for festival

Published 8:18 pm Monday, April 29, 2019

Students from all over Big Nine coming to Albert Lea


In a few days, Albert Lea High School musicians will be joined by others from across the state as the school prepares to host the 86th annual Big Nine Music Festival.

The event will bring more than 2,000 students to Albert Lea for a day of band and orchestra performances at Albert Lea High School and choir performances at First Lutheran Church.

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The festival is not a contest, Albert Lea High vocal music teacher Diane Heaney said.

“One of the great things about the festival is that it’s not competitive,” Albert Lea High School orchestra teacher Rebekah Crissinger said.

However, clinicians will attend performances and provide groups with comments on their performances.

Still, Heaney said the groups are always pushing for the Big Nine performances.

“It’s the pinnacle of your year,” she said.

The choir will sing new music for the festival, as their last concert was in February and Heaney said she does not like the music to become stale for students. Director of Bands Suzanne Mauer’s students’ most recent concert was Monday, so some of those pieces were selected for the festival as well as a piece from their March concert; snow days provided a challenge in preparation. With the exception of one piece, the orchestra’s musical preparation for the Big Nine began in March, Crissinger said.

“I think our kids are excited about hosting it,” Heaney said. “We’re excited to be our home team.”

She is hopeful more community members will come to the event as the festival is hosted in Albert Lea.

The last time Albert Lea hosted the Big Nine Music Festival was 2008. Last year’s festival occurred in Winona.

Albert Lea’s band, orchestra and choir are all participating in the festival. All daytime performances are free to the public. The band performs at 8:15 a.m. in the auditorium, the orchestra at 9:45 a.m. in the gym and the choir at 1:15 p.m. at First Lutheran Church.

Additionally, some students were selected for the grand finale concert, which features approximately 500 musicians picked from all schools participating. The grand finale concert is $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. It begins at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.

Albert Lea students participating in the select choir are Katie Funk, Lexus Saltou, Rowan Kraft, Alexis Rothmeier, Maddie Schei, Emma Renchin, Charley Fleek, Khira Hacker, Jeorge Brinda, Michael Blong, Sam Yoon, Ashler Benda, Logan Howe, Cristian Garcia, Kristian Anderson and Dane Brownlow.

Albert Lea students participating in the select band are Jaden Anderson, Lily Vinge, Hanna Sack, Aaron Farris, Chris Abrego, Alex Baerman, Lexii Zak, Dylan Callahan, Lauren Miller, Rebecca Mickelson, Drake Dawson, Romario Rosas and John Lukes.

Albert Lea students participating in the select orchestra are Emma Barclay, Morgan Bjorklund, Anna Bordewick, Nicole Caya, Traw Daw, Makenzie Kenyon and Parker Jenson.

Because of the festival, Albert Lea High School students will not have school Friday.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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