WMU News

Top high school fine arts students gather at WMU

May 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- More than 800 of the state's finest young artists will gather Thursday through Saturday, May 11-13, for the 38th annual Michigan Youth Arts Festival at Western Michigan University.

The festival honors Michigan high school students gifted in dance, drama, instrumental and vocal music, visual arts, creative writing, and film/video.

Unique to the state of Michigan, the festival began in 1963 as a simple talent screening of young musicians. Today, it is 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 some 800 students being invited to participate in the annual three-day festival.

This is the 16th year WMU has served as host to the event, which is sponsored in part through funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs; Western Michigan University; the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo; Bank One of Michigan; Psi Iota Xi, Eta Omicron Chapter; Howard Printing; Plainwell Paper; Siegfried Crandall Vos & Lewis; Jay's Foods; D & W Food Centers; and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Michigan.

Laura J. Trudeau, vice president and region head for contributions and community relations for Bank One, has been a festival advocate for the past five years and is honorary chairwoman for the 38th festival.

Author/illustrator David Small and author Sarah Stewart are this year's artists-in-residence. They will speak at the opening ceremonies and make presentations to visual arts and creative writing students.

Small, who has written and illustrated more than 25 picture books for children, has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Parents' Choice Foundation Award for Literature in 1985 for "Imogene's Antlers" and the Parents' Choice Foundation Remarkable Books Award in 1989 for "Box & Cox." "The Gardener," which he illustrated for Stewart, his wife, was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1997.

Small's most recent work, illustrations for the Carl Sandburg story, "The Huckabuck Family: and How They Raised Popcorn in Nebraska and Quit and Came Back," was named a 1999 Reading Magic Award book by Parenting Magazine and was selected for the New York Public Library's annual list of recommended books, "Children's Books 1999--100 Titles for Reading and Sharing."

Stewart, a published poet and lifelong diarist, is author of three acclaimed children's books--"The Money Tree," "The Library" and "The Gardener"--all illustrated by Small. "The Library," now in its 11th printing, is a best seller, popular with both children and adults. In 1997, Stewart received the First Place Juvenile Literary Award from the Friends of American Writers (Chicago) for "The Gardener," which is now in its eighth printing.

Students attending the festival will share their talents with peers and the public through performances and exhibitions. They also will attend educational workshops and clinics offered by professional artists including Deborah Moriarty, professor and chairwoman of piano at Michigan State University; Janice Flower, orchestra teacher at Gardner Middle School in the Lansing School District; Grazyna Maria Wolska, instructor and computer systems coordinator, Department of Art, Western Michigan University; Joe Miller, director of choral activities, Western Michigan University, Randy Wyatt, director of Uncommon Ground Improvisation Company; and Gary Barker, Cedarville College, Cedarville, Ohio, director and actor at The Human Race.

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 -- Ronald Frenzen from Tecumseh Public Schools; American String Teachers Association -- Patricia D. Smith of Okemos; Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association -- Gloria Irene Logan of Canton and John Rutherford of Warren.

Michigan Music Teachers Association -- Marilyn Sluka of Livonia; Michigan Council of Teachers of English -- Sherrie Tiderington from Heritage High School, Saginaw; Michigan School Vocal Music Association -- Leslie Rowsey from Jenison High School, Jenison; Detroit Area Film and Television -- Elaine Shapiro from Troy High School, Farmington; and Very Special Arts of Michigan -- Susan O'Brien from Marion Crouse Instructional Center, Flushing; Michigan Dance Council -- Rosanne DeVries, from the Academy of Dance Arts in Grand Rapids Public Schools and Denise Murray, from the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts in Detroit.

Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association -- Cynthia Swan-Eagen, director of bands at Manistee Area Public Schools, and Janice Flower, instrumental music teacher from the Gardner Middle School, Lansing, who will also serve as guest conductors for the Saturday afternoon band and orchestra performances in Miller Auditorium; Michigan Music Educators Association -- Tina Lewis from Haslett Public Schools;

ArtServe Michigan -- Robert Luscombe, former dean of the College of Fine Arts at WMU, ArtServe Educator of the Year. The 1999 recipient of the Governor's Arts Award, Luscombe served as Director of MYAF for 15 years and has been active in many local, state and national education initiatives.

Other individuals and schools honored by ArtServe Michigan are: Susan Wood, executive director of the Flint Youth Theatre, Arts Advocate of the Year; Wayne Bernier, principal of Brethren High School, and Maureen Phillips, principal of Brethren Middle School, Administrators of the Year; Stadium Drive Elementary School of the Arts, Lake Orion, Dr. Jesse Baker, principal, and Concord Academy, Petoskey, Stephen Overton, director, Schools of Distinction for the inclusion of the arts as part of their core curriculum.

A total of 110 award-winning visual arts works will be on display along with 25 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 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. This exhibit includes the 30 pieces in the Governor's Traveling Show and the top 18 pieces that are selected for special recognition.

Public performances begin on Friday with a staging of "Machinal" performed by Holland High School at 1p.m. in Shaw Theatre, while vocal ensembles perform from 1-4 p.m. in Dalton Center Recital Hall. Performances continue Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the String Ensemble in the Grand Tier Lobby of Miller Auditorium, Brass Ensemble in the York Arena Theatre Courtyard and Woodwind Ensemble in Miller Auditorium. Those performances are followed at 7:00 p.m. with choir performances, Teacher and Administrator-of-the-Year Recognition, and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra with five outstanding soloists on stage at Miller Auditorium. Also Friday evening are selected poetry readings beginning at 9:15 p.m. in Shaw Theatre followed by a performance of "Wit" by Grand Rapids City High School, and film and video winners will present their work in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall.

Saturday begins with a Dance Concert in Shaw Theatre at 10:30 a.m. followed by Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association Instrumental Collage & the Jade String Quartet in Dalton Center Recital Hall at 11:30 a.m. At 1 p.m. a repeat performance of "Wit" will be staged in Shaw Theatre. The film/video showing repeats at 1 p.m. in Dalton Center Lecture Hall. The vocal soloists performance begins at 1:30 p.m in Dalton Center Recital Hall.

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

Festival passes that provide admission to all public events are available for $15 at festival headquarters in the Dalton Center lobby. Single event tickets are $5 and will be sold 30 minutes prior to each event in the lobby of the facility where the performance takes place. There is no admission charge for the Visual Arts Exhibit.

The festival is governed by a board consisting of representatives from the Michigan Department of Education, the professional arts-in-education organizations and associations honoring teachers of the year, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Michigan Federation of Music Clubs, Education for the Arts, and WMU.

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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