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Esko music program ramps up activity

Band and choir students at Esko High School recently participated in state-sponsored events throughout the Northland and are gearing up for spring competitions.

In October, many members of the Esko Jazz Ensemble participated in the University of Wisconsin-Superior Jazz Festival, working with clinician Dave Hagedorn from St. Olaf College.

Around the same time, six band students participated in the 60th annual University of Minnesota-Duluth Senior High School Honor Band Festival, four of those student assigned to the Gold Band. They had the opportunity to work alongside Maestro Giancarlo Castro D'Addona, a Venezuelan conductor and composer.

One student reflected on working on the piece "Sangaxa." He wrote: "It was that dynamic, powerful-ending, audience-pleasing march that everyone loves to hear and that's even more fun to play."

In addition, many of the choir members attended the 2017 UMD Honor Choir and worked with festival clinician Richard Robbins.

The students were quite pleased with their experiences, and many of them found opportunities to build a better understanding of their support in singing, how to work with new conductors and to never give in when working towards a goal. Favorite pieces ranged from Eric Whitacre's "Seal Lullaby" to Paul John Rudoi's "Gamaya."

Funding for students to attend these programs was provided by the Esko Music Boosters.

The band and choir programs are now working on preparations for the statewide competitions in the spring. Students are practicing individual and group pieces and incorporating new ideas they learned in these recent events into their work for their future performances.