By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
It’s an honor for any high school music group to be invited to attend the annual Michigan Music Conference.
This year, the Huron Music Department was asked to send four groups to the state conference to be held this weekend in Grand Rapids.
Performing this weekend are the Huron High School Symphony Orchestra (Timothy Krohn, conductor); the Huron High School Symphony Band ( Stephen Roberts, conductor); and the Huron High School Jazz Band, directed by Stephen Roberts.
In addition, the Michigan School Vocal Music Association selected the Huron High School Bel Canto Choir, conducted by Bonnie Kidd, as one of its featured ensembles at the conference.
Kidd noted that each year, choral directors and instrumental directors have the opportunity to apply to be a featured performance ensemble at the Michigan Music Conference. For the Choral Hour on Friday afternoon, only four ensembles are selected from across the state.
Last year, Kidd decided to apply. As director of Bel Canto Choir, she had to submit a professional recording of music from that year, as well music performed in the previous three years. The recordings were then judged by a panel of music educators from across the state in a “blind” audition in that the judges do not know ahead of time who the ensemble is they are hearing.
She was thrilled to receive word in June that Bel Canto had been selected to perform at the 2016 MMC conference.
“The scary thing is that because we are selected from the previous years’ ensemble, and our ensembles change dramatically every year, one is never sure if the current ensemble is going to be able to perform at that level,” she said. “But we are all in the same situation, so that makes it easier.”
Kidd said that when she let colleagues Steve Roberts, Tim Krohn, and Richard Ingram know that the choir had been selected, she learned that they’d applied for the same conference for the MSBOA (instrumental) part of the conference and that three of their ensembles were also selected to perform.
“This means the world to me,” she said of the honor. “It is the best kind of acknowledgment that a director can receive that we were selected by our own colleagues as one of the outstanding ensembles in the state. It is wonderful recognition of my work with my girls.
“For my girls in Bel Canto, this has been a terrific year so far of bonding and learning very quickly how to make a beautiful sound and ensemble. They are a wonderful group of 20 young women, all working very hard to make beautiful music together.”
Kidd chose a program of five songs for them to perform, all composed specifically for young women.
“Our program is delivering a message to our audience that women are powerful, smart, thoughtful, and need to be valued and recognized for our minds, souls and spirits,” she said. “All five songs speak about this.
“We can’t wait to travel on Friday and share our music with our audience. It is going to be very exciting.”
Playing at the MMC is not competitive, but all audience members expect the highest quality performance from those few schools that are selected to play, said Stephen Roberts, Huron High School’s director of bands.
The conference is not meant to be an every year event for any one school to achieve, said Roberts.
“I believe that all us music teachers ascribe to an unwritten agreement that you only apply to perform once every six years or so,” he said, noting that the other AAPS high schools have had groups perform there in the recent past.
Roberts said that when he decided to apply last May for the Huron Band to perform at the MMC, he knew he was going to have an excellent Symphony Band and Jazz Band this year, so he entered them both.
“I thought that it was possible, but didn’t believe that the selection committee would actually choose both bands and our orchestra and choir to perform,” he said, noting it was a pleasant surprise when the acceptance letter came.
Timothy Krohn said the invitations to the conference are a great honor for the students, music department and school.
“It represents the culmination of all of the hard work, dedication and musicianship of our students, the robust K-12 music education that students receive in the AAPS, the strong commitment by our families to the arts, and the incredible support of the Ann Arbor community that our students benefit from on a daily basis,” he said. “The orchestra’s performance is especially meaningful this year because we will sharing the stage with the Huron Symphony Band and combining forces for a 140-musician-strong grand finale: Marquez’s Danzón No. 2.”