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Really jazzed!: Missota Fine Arts Festival returns to Red Wing

Trumpet player Dani Peterson (left), and bass clarinet players Anthony Gerken and Austin Nybo practice their pieces for the Missota Fine Arts Festival March 22.1 / 4
Red Wing High School alto saxophonists Alissa Englund (left), Julia Hofer and Ryan Schnaith practice for the Missota Fine Arts Festival, which will be April 5.2 / 4
Leah Becker was one of 12 Red Wing High School art students selected to attend the festival. She will be bringing her typography piece inspired by music lyrics. "It's my favorite thing I've made this year," Becker said. "I love waves."3 / 4
Clarinetists Olivia Olson (left) Kelsey Hager work during band practice March 22.4 / 4

Next week, Red Wing High School will transform itself into concert hall and museum.

The school is hosting the annual Missota Fine Arts Festival, which will bring hundreds of young artists and musicians from around the southern metro area for a day of workshops, exhibitions and concerts April 5.

"It's a fun chance for kids to do in-depth lessons," Red Wing High School art teacher Kristin Bray said.

Art, choir and band students from each of the eight schools in the Missota Conference have been invited to bring bands choirs and art students to the festival. High school band, choir and art teachers, as well as some professional artists and musicians, will hold workshops and clinics for the students.

"They get to work with world-class directors. They get to hear other high school bands and they get to present what they've learned," band director Dan Marrs said.

Missota schools take turns holding the event. Marrs said the last time Red Wing play host was in 2005. And while being host means more planning and setting up for Red Wing's art, band and choir teachers, Red Wing choir director Mikkel Gardner said there is one benefit.

"The bonus is we don't have to get on a bus," he said.

@Sub head:Art

@Normal1: Only 12 artists from each Missota school are selected to attend the festival. Senior Leah Becker was one of the students chosen by the RWHS art department.

"She works really hard and she deserves this," Bray said. "She really wanted to go. We want kids that want to go."

Usually, students are only given one opportunity in their high school careers to attend the festival. But Becker is an exception to that rule, having attended twice before.

"I have so much fun," she said. "You get to meet so many people and see the art. ... I'm excited to be around people that are excited about art."

"They come from all different schools, but by the end they're all talking and sharing," Bray said.

For the art students, the day will start off with keynote speaker Dawn Zero Erickson, a local textile artist and designer. Erickson has had work displayed in museums such as the Kyoto Textile Museum in Japan and the Institute of Chicago. She has also designed textiles, greeting cards and gift wrap for commercial companies including IKEA and Target.

Then, the students will get to choose from a variety of different workshops taught by professional artists and high school art teachers. Topics include printmaking, sculpture and collage. The last part of the day is taken up by small group critiques of the artwork each student brought to the festival.

"They come back really inspired," Bray said. "It's exciting for them to see different artworks."

@Sub heads:Band and choir

@Normal1: Each school will bring its concert choir and concert band to the festival.

The Red Wing band and the choir have each prepared three pieces to perform for the other schools at the festival. Those performances start at about 11 a.m.

"We (generally) don't get to hear anyone else," Gardner said. But at the festival, the students "get to hear how you stack up."

In addition, certain students from each school are also handpicked to join the festival's select band and select choir.

For band, directors choose up to 10 of their best musicians.

"I pick students who have earned it," Marrs said.

Choir directors choose their three best sopranos, three altos, two tenors and two bass singers.

Red Wing senior bass Nick Kalsbeck has attended the Missota Fine Arts Festival before, but has always been part of the massed choir. This year, he was selected to be part of the select choir.

"You get to meet many interesting people," Kalsbeck said of the festival. "It's a cool experience."

The students who were not chosen for the select groups make up the massed band and massed choir; each will be made up of hundreds of student musicians.

To be part of those mass ensembles is generally an experience that is unique to the festival, Gardner said. Guest clinicians will rehearse with each ensemble during the festival.

To wrap up the entire festival, the massed band, massed choir, select band and select choir will perform in a grand finale concert that evening in the RWHS gym.

The details

The details

What: Missota Fine Arts Festival

Where: Red Wing High School, 2451 Eagle Ridge Drive

When: Art exhibit 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; grand finale band and choir concert 7 p.m.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.