Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Students bound for SWC Fine Arts Festival

Several Gothenburg High School students have been chosen by teachers to attend the Southwest Conference Fine Arts Festival.

The festival will be in Minden March 16 and 17, culminating with a concert at 4 p.m. in the Minden High School gymnasium. Artwork will be displayed before and after the concert.

The public is invited.

Other schools represented at the festival are from the SWC and include Cozad, Minden, Ainsworth, Valentine, Ogallala and Broken Bow.

In addition to guidance by professionals in the business, local choral teacher Ernie Blecha said the festival is a chance for students to meet and work with other students in a non-competitive environment.

“Instead of competing, they’re working together to make something beautiful,” Blecha said.

Choral students will rehearse for a day and a half with Joel Johnston, who is a free-lance conductor, presenter, choreographer and adjudicator, with 26 years of experience in music education.

Johnston conducts the Southwest Iowa Men’s Chorus, as well as the SNJ Studio Singers, a select high school a cappella ensemble, and Center Stage, a middle school show choir.

He also co-founded Performer’s Edge, a performing arts academy designed to help students from prekindergarten to grade 12 develop their skills as singers, actors and dancers.

Blecha said students will rehearse and perform five choral pieces that display a variety of music — patriotic, ethnic, sacred and gospel.

In visual arts, junior and senior high art teacher Travis Coe said students will bring artwork from which a best of show will be selected by all students.

On March 16 of the festival, he said students will be grouped to create a mural that will be judged by conference art instructors.

“The topic of the mural usually deals with events or social issues during the past year,” Coe said.

Following the mural contest, students will do mixer activities where they work on projects set up by the host art instructor.

The next day, they will rotate to workshops led by Christy Kosmicki, who teaches art at Holdrege and the University of Nebraska; Amber Kosmicki, a UNK student who student teaches in Omaha; and Ellen Kuhl, an art teacher from Southern Valley Schools.

Workshops are Gene Davis and the Washington Color Painters, taught by Christy Kosmicki, origami instruction by Amber Kosmicki and Ukrainian egg decorating by Kuhl.

Art students will also tour the Minden Opera House.

Band students will perform four different selections with students from the SWC schools.

They will rehearse with a clinician for two days and play in the public concert on March 17.

Local band teacher Tom Belanger said he thinks the festival benefits students in many ways.

“For example, students get to work with a different director, meet new people, put together pieces in a short amount of time and simply become better performers,” Belanger said, noting that the experience is also a goal for band students.