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Fine Arts Collaborative Exhibition is Monday at Minnesota West

Christine Thorson (left) directs students in the Minnesota West College Chorale during a Thursday afternoon rehearsal. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON —Music, art and poetry will all be celebrated at 4 p.m. Monday in the Fine Arts Theatre at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington.

Many students’ fine arts skills are to be highlighted as part of the Fine Arts Collaborative Exhibition program.

“This is a chance to showcase some of our students’ creative talents at Minnesota West,” said Bryan Maurer, an instructor of music, technology, pep band and piano at the college.

“Rather than separating the artistic, musical and creative literary work, we thought a collaborative event would be the best way to share it.”

English instructor Karsten Piper will involve students with poetry readings, while art instructor Leah Gossom’s blossoming artists will discuss the artwork they have on display in the Fine Arts lobby.

Gossom offers special praise for the efforts of Jan Vanderkeift, Megan Hein and Kaylarr Hansen — students she says have done “outstanding work the last couple of years in art classes.” Art they’ve produced is featured this spring on the school’s graduation flier, among other places.

“We want our students to be talking about their work,” said Maurer, who will be somewhat behind the scenes Monday as he operates the sound system in the fine arts theater’s booth and makes an archival recording of the day’s proceedings.

The Minnesota West College Chorale, presented by adjunct director Christine Thorson, is set to sing a short program of American folk songs, spirituals and musical theater numbers.

“In selecting music for the program, the students and I discussed a variety of ideas,” said Thorson, who holds music degrees from Western Connecticut State University and Minnesota State University-Mankato.

“Ultimately, I wanted the program to reflect a variety of choral literature to keep in line with the course learning objective of exposing the students to different kinds of music.”

Thorson, who has also taught voice lessons at Minnesota West during instructor Eric Parrish’s sabbatical year, said her small group of students is ready to perform.

“They’ve been dedicated and challenged throughout the semester, and they’ve been a good group of students to work with,” Thorson said. “Their response to my musical suggestions was really great, and they’ve been excited and eager to learn different types of music.

“We wanted to give them an opportunity to grow in music this year, whether singing in a choir, a duet or as soloists.”

Among the seven choral students is sophomore alto Stephanie Garcia, a 2012 graduate of Worthington High School (WHS).

“I was in choir at WHS as a sophomore, but this is my first year doing music at Minnesota West,” Garcia explained. “I missed choir and singing, because I find singing to be a stress-reliever, almost a kind of therapy.”

Both Garcia and Natasha Polzine, a freshman soprano from Adrian, say that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “All I Ask of You” (in a Mark Brymer arrangement) is their preferred number in Monday’s concert lineup.

“I really like the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ segment of the program, because ‘Phantom’ is one of my favorite musicals,” Garcia said.

Added Polzine, “I like ‘Phantom’ and I love that song — it’s so pretty.”

Besides singing as part of the chorale, Polzine will be featured as a soloist on another song she knows well — “Shenandoah,” arranged by Jay Althouse.

“I did ‘Shenandoah’ in high school, first as a duet and then when I was a senior for solo/ensemble contest,” said the softball-playing soprano. “I like the people in chorale — it’s been really fun to get to know everyone — and we have fun singing.”

Sophomore Justin Kirlin, who hails from Fulda, agrees.

“I enjoy that chorale is small enough to get one-on-one instruction with the instructor, and she was open to our ideas for music,” said Kirlin of Thorson.

Kirlin, a tenor, pairs with bass-baritone Johnté Dawson for a duet of the Andy Beck arrangement of “Over the Rainbow.”

“I just love the message of ‘Over the Rainbow,’ which is that better days are and always will be ahead after the hard times,” shared Kirlin.

“And the Hawaiian twist this version has just helps emphasize that.”

Summarized Thorson, “The music we’ll present tells a message in the end — with different messages of faith from the spirituals, of people from the folk tunes and of drama from the musical theater.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed working with these students; they’re unique individuals with varied talents.”

The Minnesota West Fine Arts Collaborative Exhibition takes place Monday at 4 p.m. at the Fine Arts Theatre on the Worthington campus. It is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.