Hundreds of High School Musicians Attend 30th Annual Björling Music Festival Posted on November 6th, 2018 by

Dr. Justin Knopefel leads the Honor String Orchestra in rehearsal during the Björling Music Festival

This week Gustavus Adolphus College hosted nearly 300 high school musicians from 65 different high schools for two days of rehearsals, master classes, and performances during the 30th Annual Björling Music Festival. Students were selected for this honor out of hundreds of applicants nominated for the program by their high school conductors.

For the first time, the festival included two honor choirs and an honor orchestra in addition to the two traditional honor bands. Students from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, and Wisconsin gathered to be a part of the festival.

Throughout their time on campus students had the chance to work with ensemble conductors Dr. Gregory Aune and Dr. Brandon Dean (choir), Dr. James Patrick Miller and Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller (band), and Dr. Justin Knoepfel (orchestra). Students also had the opportunity to work with faculty in masterclasses, listen to performances from several ensembles at Gustavus, as well as stay overnight with current Gustavus musicians in the dorms.

Junior Sam Powell from Rosemount High School was a tenor in the Honor Choir. He says getting the chance to sing with students from so many different schools was one of his favorite parts of the weekend. “A sense of openness is something that we learned [during the festival],” he says. “Openness to new opportunities, new views, and new philosophies.”

Mankato East Band Director Craig Kopetzki participated in the festival as a student and this is his 13th year sending his own students to the festival. This year he had eight students accepted into the ensembles. “They get a greater understanding of music and working together with other people they haven’t played with before,” he says. “There’s a big teamwork element to it. They hear musical ideas said differently and it reinforces what we are teaching in the classroom.”



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