WMU News

Top high school artists gather for annual festival

May 1, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- More than 1,000 of the state's finest young artists will gather Thursday through Saturday, May 10-12, for the 39th annual Michigan Youth Arts Festival at Western Michigan University.

Unique to the state of Michigan, the festival honors Michigan high school students gifted in the areas of dance, drama, instrumental and vocal music, visual arts, creative writing, and film and video. It began in 1963 as simple talent screening of young musicians and has evolved into a comprehensive arts spectacular, culminating a nine-month search for the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. More than 60,000 students across the state become involved in the adjudication process that results in over 900 students being invited to participate in the annual three-day festival.

This is the 17th year the event has been held at WMU. The festival is sponsored in part through funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, WMU, Bank One of Michigan, Psi Iota Xi, Eta Omicron Chapter, Howard Printing, Siegfried Crandall Vos & Lewis, Jay's Foods, D&W Food Centers, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Michigan.

Honorary chairman for this year's festival is Eugene A. Gargaro Jr., vice president and secretary of Masco Corp. Gargaro is chairman of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Michigan Manufacturers Association and director emeritus of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"I believe that business and the arts community benefit greatly from one another," says Gargaro, a longtime advocate of the interaction between the business and cultural sectors in Michigan. "The best employees seek jobs in communities that offer the highest quality of life, including a thriving arts and cultural sector."

This year's guest artist, Greg Reuter, is a music theatre singer/dancer/actor. Reuter has performed in national tours of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Chicago" and "Fosse" and is currently featured in the Broadway revival of "Bells Are Ringing."

He has been featured in several television commercials, danced in several shows at Radio City Music Hall and has toured as a backup singer for Liza Minelli.

Reuter is from Livonia, Mich., where he attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in music theatre performance from WMU.

"Being a student of the arts in today's society carries with it tremendous freedom and tremendous responsibility," says Reuter of his message to students participating in the festival. "If you choose to follow an artistic path into the 'real' world, you will have the rare opportunity to truly affect others beyond the intellectual. Nothing feeds the human soul like the arts."

Students attending the festival will share their talents with peers and the public through performances and exhibitions. (EDITORS, SEE ATTACHED LIST.) However, a large part of the participants' experience while at the festival comes from attending educational workshops and clinics offered by professional artists, including Lori Sims, WMU associate professor of music; Richard de Peaux, WMU professor of art; John Madden, Michigan State University associate professor of music; David Becker, University of Wisconsin associate professor and music director and conductor of the UW-Madison Symphony and Chamber Orchestras; Rodney Eichenberger, Florida State University professor of choral music; and Trent Kynaston, WMU professor of music.

The festival also provides a forum for honoring and recognizing 20 outstanding educators and administrators in the arts. Those to be honored as "Teacher of the Year" and the organizations that will present the awards are: Michigan Art Education Association--Craig Hinshaw, from the Lamphere (Mich.) School System; The American String Teachers Association--Larry Hutchinson of Farmington Hills, Mich.; Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association--Kathy Mulay of Kalamazoo and Patrick Foley of Jenison, Mich.

Michigan Music Teachers Association--Joanne Smith of Bonita Springs, Fla.; Michigan Council of Teachers of English--Nancy Bordewyk of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Michigan School Vocal Music Association--Nina Scott from Renaissance High School in Detroit; Detroit Area Film and Television--Jamie Stewart Laidlaw of Royal Oak; Very Special Arts of Michigan--Margaret Hull of Pontiac; Michigan Dance Council--Betsy Carr, of Traverse City; Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association--Greg Reed and John Blakemore from Williamston Community Schools.

ArtServe Michigan will present several awards. Harvey Goldstein, an art educator from Farmington, and Terry Blackhawk, a retired creative writing instructor for Detroit Public Schools have been named ArtServe Educators of the Year. Dr. Victoria Holley-Foster, an Arts Education Consultant for the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency is the Arts Advocate of the Year. Joseph Tibaldi, principal of Traverse City West Senior High School is the Administrator of the Year. Traverse City West Senior High School and the Southfield-Lathrup High School have been named Creative Ticket Schools of Distinction. The school boards of the Battle Creek and Farmington public school systems will be honored as School Boards of the Year.

A total of 112 award-winning visual art works will be on display along with 30 works selected from Very Special Arts of Michigan in the Multi-Media Room of the Dalton Center. The exhibition will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 10 and 11, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. This exhibit includes the 30 pieces in the Governor's Traveling Show and the top 18 pieces that are selected for special recognition.

Public performance events begin on Friday with a performance of "All In The Timing," performed by John Glenn High School of Bangor Township at 1p.m. in Shaw Theatre, while vocal ensembles will hold their performances in the Dalton Center Recital Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. Public performances continue Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the piano trio performance in the Grand Tier Lobby of Miller Auditorium, brass ensemble in the York Arena Theatre Courtyard and woodwind ensemble on the Miller Auditorium Stage. These performances are followed at 7 p.m. with choir performances; "Teacher and Administrator-of-the-Year" recognition; and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Orchestra, with the five outstanding soloists on the stage at Miller Auditorium.

Also Friday evening, the public is invited to selected poetry readings beginning at 9:15 p.m. in Shaw Theatre followed by a performance of "Le Triumph de L'Amour" by Holland High School. In the same period on Friday, the film and video winners will present their work in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall.

Saturday, May 12, begins with a dance concert in Shaw Theatre at 10:30 a.m. followed by MSBOA's Instrumental Collage and the MASTA Piano Trio in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at 11 a.m. At 1 p.m. a repeat performance of "Le Triumph de L'Amour" by Holland High School will be staged in Shaw Theatre. The film/video showing repeats at 1 p.m. in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall. In the Dalton Center Recital Hall the Vocal Soloists' performance begins at 1:30 p.m.

The festival concludes with the All-Michigan Music Ensembles in Miller Auditorium at 2:15 p.m. featuring the All-Michigan Honors Orchestra, All-Michigan Jazz Ensemble, All-Michigan Honors Choir and the All-Michigan Honors Band.

Festival passes for all public events are available for $15 at Festival Headquarters in the Dalton Center lobby. Single event tickets are $5 and will be on sale 30 minutes prior to each event in the lobby where the performance takes place. There is no admission charge to view the Visual Arts Exhibit.

For more information, please contact the WMU College of Fine Arts at (616) 387-5811.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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