A passion with a purposeWHS junior a member of 2008 All-State Men's Choir
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Wesley Berger was Worthington’s sole representative at Minnesota All-State music camps recently.
The Worthington High School (WHS) junior was selected for the Tenor I section of the All-State Men’s Choir based on auditions last spring. From Aug. 4-9, Berger joined with 71 other young men — and members of the All-State Women’s Choir and Mixed Choir — at Concordia College, Moorhead.
Berger spent the week under the tutelage of internationally recognized conductor Diane Loomer, founder of Canada’s pre-eminent men’s choir, Chor Leoni.
“I want to treat it all as a huge learning experience,” expressed Berger prior to departure. “I’m looking to improve the way I sing and what I sing, and to become more knowledgeable about music.”
Berger’s classmate Ian Krekelberg, a bass, was chosen as an alternate for All-State.
“Wesley and Ian prepared Italian arias for their auditions, working for about six weeks,” said Joe Osowski, WHS choral director. “Although Ian didn’t get to go this year, I’m hopeful that with continued efforts he’ll make it next year.
“Both of these young men are a testament to the caliber of singers participating in the WHS choral program, and I’m very proud of them,” continued Osowski.
For a music-lover like Berger, All-State camp was a perfect fit.
“It was insanely amazing,” asserted Berger. “The second I got there, everyone was ridiculously nice, nobody had bad attitudes and everybody was there to work.”
Work was necessary, as the men’s choir had 10 numbers to perfect for their Aug. 9 concert. Berger said his favorite was “Rise Again” by Leon Dubinsky. He’ll have the chance to perform the pieces again at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on Feb. 14, 2009, as part of the annual Minnesota Music Educators Association conference.
“I was brought up with a lot of music in my family, and when I got to middle school, I became involved in choir,” explained Berger, the son of Chuck and Liz Berger, Worthington. “Ever since then, I’ve loved it.”
During his first two years at WHS, Berger was a member of Vox and Trojan Express, and is also a trumpeter in the WHS band. Currently he is serving with Mindy Kuhl as co-leader of the band’s trumpet section.
“Our schools in general have so much to offer music students,” said Berger. “I really, really enjoy the trumpet, and I have to give a lot of credit to Mrs. (Jeanette) Jenson for helping me choose that, because I think playing trumpet helped advance my music interest and develop my confidence.”
Berger is also involved with the church and youth worship team at Solid Rock Assembly, which he says is “an important thing to me.” He has played bass guitar since sixth grade, and a friend, Michael Benitez, taught him how to play six-string guitar in the past few years.
In solo and ensemble contests in 2007 and 2008, Berger received superior ratings for his vocal performances. In addition, he was a chorus member in WHS’s “Guys & Dolls” last February and is in a band with Benitez and Connor Tripp.
“It’s safe to say that music takes up about 80 to 90 percent of what goes on in my mind,” laughed Berger, who nevertheless makes time for a part-time job at Pizza Ranch and for “normal high school things” like playing video games and hanging out with friends.
Still, Berger’s drive for music keeps him focused on the future, which he says may include applying to Concordia College to expand on the music education and experiences he’s already enjoyed.
“I’d like to get the best musical education I possibly can, because whatever I decide to do in the future, the music education in my background will be a critical part of it,” assured Berger.
In 2007, five WHS seniors qualified for All-State groups—two band students and three vocalists. Other area musicians selected this year are Fulda students Erica Drealan, a baritone saxophonist in the 2008 All-State Concert Band, and Jared Mitchell, also a Tenor I in the All-State Men’s Choir.
If Berger has his way, he’ll be on the All-State roster again in 2009.
“I’m definitely going to audition for All-State choir again next year,” confirmed Berger. “Music is my favorite thing ever, and I expect it always will be.
“I’ll probably still be in the city band when I’m 84.”