Most high school students in the area have small class sizes, and music students share the stage with a relatively low amount of people, but on Nov. 13, they’ll get a chance to play and sing with a much larger group.
Students from area high schools will join together to perform in the annual Barnes County music festival Nov. 13 at Valley City State University’s Vangstad Auditorium.
“We have schools from all around Barnes County that gather together for a festival,” Melinda Hollenbeck, this year’s coorinator, said. “We choose students from band and choir from each school and make a combined mass and choir.”
High school students from Barnes County North, Barnes County North Central, Litchville-Marion, Enderlin, Hope-Page, Maple Valley and Griggs County Central schools will all participate in the event.
Hollenbeck said Christopher Redfearn, choir director at VCSU, and James Adams, band director at VCSU, will act as clinicians this year, leading the entire band and choir.
The festival is an all-day event on Nov. 13, when students spend the day practicing and eating lunch together at VCSU before ending the day with the concert at 5 p.m.
Adams said his goal with the students is to provide them a unique musical experience that will help them improve as musicians, while they and the audience both feel something powerful inside.
“I only get a few short hours to bring together these students and help them learn to play together as a ensemble, supporting the sound of each other to create a concert performance that same evening,” Adams said.
“I keep rehearsals focused and intense, with an emphasis on musical expression from the very first entrance. I encourage the students to take musical risks, play aggressively, and express their emotions through their instruments as they collaborate on the performance,” he said.
“Most students are excited about it, and they have a good time,” Hollenbeck said.
Hollenbeck said that any student who wants to volunteer for the festival is able to, and they do base it off of seniority if need be.
Musical selections will feature a variety of music. The band will play some fluid and driving music along with one march song. The choir will sing traditional spiritual songs and a classical piece.
“We just try to pick a variety (of music),” Hollenbeck said.
“We encourage everyone to come out and support the kids,” said Hollenbeck. “It’s a good chance to hear a large group play — they really do have a lot of fun.”
“It’s a fun change,” Hollenbeck said. “Our bands and choirs at each school are relatively small. This is a chance for them to play with a larger group.”
This year’s choir will have 75 students, and the band will have 60.