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Student music groups to perform

Worthington High School students, under the direction of Melanie Loy (far left), practice Thursday afternoon for their upcoming performances next week. (Ryan Mcgaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Local music lovers will have their pick of concerts early next week when hundreds of student musicians from Worthington Middle School (WMS) and Worthington High School (WHS) perform Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively.

"March is 'Music in our Schools Month,' so it's an appropriate time for us to have these concerts and help raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children," said Jeanette Jenson, a WMS general music instructor and director of the fifth-grade band.

Leading the charge will be more than 200 WMS band students, who are in concert Monday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. The fifth- through eighth-grade bands, under the direction of Michael Andersen and Jenson, plan to share selections including "Ceremonium," "Theme from Dallas," "Peace Like a River," "Childhood Hymn" and "Jungle Dance," among others. Justin Spaethe will emcee the event, which is the school's second annual "Music in Our Schools Concert."

"We have seen much growth in our bands since the winter concert, and we're excited for our students to perform at Memorial Auditorium," said Jenson.

A multi-faceted program featuring all four of the WHS major music ensembles grabs the spotlight Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the WHS gymnasium for the annual Region 2AA Large Group Contest Concert.

Guest adjudicators/clinicians will offer critiques following each ensemble's performance.

"This concert marks the only time on the school-year calendar when all the WHS large music groups perform together," said Jon Loy, WHS band director. "It's become the highlight concert of the year."

Loy says his 105-member concert band has "its most demanding contest program we've done in recent years, due to the difficulty of the pieces involved.

"The kids have really grown through the process, both musically and emotionally," he continued. "It's hard to get a band to play with emotion, and to have that come across to the listener, but they've done a nice job of capturing that in the pieces."

"Prelude and Rondo" by David Holsinger, "Jubilant Flourishes" by Travis J. Weller and "Cumberland Cross" by Carl Strommen comprise the band's concert order.

"Our horn section, and low brass in general, are very strong this year, and all sections of the band have worked really hard," commented Loy.

Daniel Eye, director of bands at West Central High School in Hartford, S.D., will be the band clinician for the night.

"Mr. Eye produces some great talent at West Central High School, he brings his band to the King Turkey Day each year and his bands always place very high in the South Dakota band festival annually," said Loy.

Kerry Johnson's 78-voice Concert Choir and 60-voice Trojan Choir are set to share challenging programs as well.

"The Concert Choir will do 'Tshotsholoza,' a rhythmic South African number that features senior tenor Alex Hayenga, and 'Magnificat' by Minnesota composer Rene Clausen," said Johnson. "We're really honored to be doing a piece by a Minnesotan, and the kids picked it out after listening to several possible selections.

"The Trojan Choir's numbers are lively, and they've been enjoying them," she added. "A couple of their pieces, which include 'Give Us Hope,' 'Let There be Music' and 'It Takes a Village,' have a world music flair to them and were fun to put together."

Dr. Paul Nesheim of Augustana College, who worked with the Honor Choir students at last fall's Southwest Conference Choral Festival, will be the choral adjudicator Tuesday.

"He has a lot of enthusiasm, a great sense of humor and excellent credentials, so we anticipate some helpful critiques with a sympathetic ear," said Johnson.

Finally, the WHS orchestra, under the direction of Melanie Loy, will present "Divertimento No. 3 in F Major, K. 138" by Mozart and "Perseus" by contemporary composer Soon Hee Newbold.

Dr. Mario Chiarello, director of orchestral activities at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, S.D., is the guest orchestral clinician.

"We're excited for the audience to see and hear the students at their absolute best," said Johnson of Tuesday's concert. "It's fun for the kids to have a chance to listen to each other perform, and our music kids, like all the WHS students, are so hard-working and dedicated to things they're passionate about."

Loy concurred.

"I like this concert because everyone is at their peak in terms of talent -- the entire music department," he said. "Tuesday, we will all perform together and can appreciate each other's hard work."

The WMS fifth- through eighth-grade bands are in concert Monday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium, 714 13th St. The concert is open to the public; there is a fee, but District 518 activity passes will be honored. Tuesday at 7 p.m., the WHS band, choirs and orchestra are in concert in the WHS gymnasium, 1211 Clary St. The concert is free and open to the public.

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