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WHS students to perform concert Tuesday

Representatives of each of the musical groups to perform in the WHS Contest Concert are Cameron Jenson (left), Erika Schutte, Jada Nelsen and Trevor Wietzema. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Although they may not literally pick up their feet and fly, more than 200 Worthington High School (WHS) student musicians do hope to soar in a Tuesday night performance in the school’s gymnasium.

That’s because they will sing and play not only for an eager audience of family and community members but also for respected adjudicators, who will rate and critique the ensembles at the annual Region 2AA Large Group Contest Concert.

“It’s very exciting to get feedback from experienced adjudicators,” said Jon Loy, director of the 115-member Trojan band and chair of the WHS music department.

“This is a benchmark concert for the department in terms of where we are with our literature and standards of excellence.”

Loy will lead his concert band in three numbers: “Festa!” and “Hymn and Fantasia” (based on “All Creatures of Our God and King”), both by Elliot Del Borgo, and “The Gathering of the Ranks at Hebron” by David R. Holsinger.

“I like ‘Hymn and Fantasia’ because it shows the musicianship of the band,” Loy added. “And Holsinger is a well-respected composer who is known for large band pieces that include a lot of color and texture in the music.”

Kerry Johnson, director of choral programs at WHS, will present both the Trojan Choir and the Concert Choir Tuesday, with works by Minnesota composers Eric Barnum, David Dickau and Joshua Shank featured.

The Trojan Choir will share Barnum’s reflective “Dreams of Thee” and the African folk song “Jabula Jesu” by Stephen Hatfield, while the Concert Choir is slated to sing three numbers: Moses Hogan’s “Elijah Rock,” “I carry your heart with me” by Dickau (set to lyrics by e.e. cummings) and Shank’s “The Boy Who Picked Up His Feet to Fly.”

Shank was an undergraduate at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, when he wrote “The Boy Who Picked Up His Feet to Fly” in 2002. He dedicated it to his brother, Zach Shank, who, coincidentally, recently became the manager at Worthington’s Hy-Vee store.

“It’s not often students get the chance to perform music for a composer, or for a composer’s muse, but Zach Shank may hear them sing it,” said Johnson. “It’s been a fun coincidence that we have this opportunity to sing a piece and meet the inspiration behind it.”

Meanwhile, the nearly 50 members of the WHS orchestra, under the direction of Melanie Loy, will share George F. Handel’s challenging “Concerto Grosso in G Major, Opus 6, No. 1.”

Each of the student ensembles will be critiqued on the spot by guest clinicians. They are: Joseph Rodgers, director of orchestral activities at Minnesota State University, Mankato; Bob Carlson, formerly director of bands at Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Worthington native Dione DeHoogh Peterson, a longtime choral director in Sioux Falls who currently lives in Faribault and conducts Beau Chant, a community choir.

“Dione Peterson was a guest choral conductor at the Southwest Choral Festival a few years ago,” said Johnson. “I have a great deal of respect for her work.”

Rodgers was a cello soloist in the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra’s fall 2013 concert, and Carlson brings decades of experience with bands to the table.

“The clinicians will offer constructive comments, and speaking for the band, it’s good to have someone like Mr. Carlson here to communicate to the kids how they can get to that next level,” said Loy.

Added Johnson, “This contest concert pushes the kids to really achieve their best performance both as individuals and as a team or ensemble, and it makes sense to have that performance given in a place where others can see and hear it.

“It’s also a chance for the student ensembles to hear and appreciate each other’s work, because they know what it takes to achieve as a music ensemble.”

With nearly one-third of the WHS student population involved in the school’s music program in one way or another, Tuesday’s concert offers the opportunity for parents and the public to witness what these students have been learning and preparing in the past several weeks.

“Music involvement at WHS is only growing, and that’s in part because there is a sense of community and belonging that kids find in the music program,” suggested Loy.

“This will be a great evening to celebrate all of the large musical performing groups we have at WHS, in one setting.”

The Region 2AA Large Group Contest Concert will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Worthington High School gymnasium, 1211 Clary St. The concert is free and open to the public.