Björling Music Festival Kicks Off New Season Posted on November 1st, 2019 by

The Björling Music Festival offers opportunities for high school musicians to get a taste of life on campus as a Gustie. Now in its 31st year, the festival has expanded to include the third annual Jazz Jamboree as well as the annual Concerto Competition for High School Musicians in addition to the honor band, orchestra, and choir. With the first part of the festival taking place this weekend, here’s a closer look at the different opportunities.

Björling Music Festival: Gustavus Honor Bands and Orchestra

The honor bands and orchestra takes place November 3-4, culminating in a concert Monday evening in Christ Chapel. More than 250 students from 80 high schools across Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, and Wisconsin gather for the two days of music. This year the festival welcomes guest conductor Dr. Stephen Peterson, Director of Bands at the University of Illinois, to work with the honor bands, in addition to faculty members Dr. James Patrick Miller and Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller. The honor orchestra will perform “Autumn” from Antonio Vivaldi’s famed Four Seasons with soloist Peter McGuire, a violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra and faculty member at Gustavus. High school students will also experience masterclasses with Gustavus faculty and attend a concert of the Gustavus bands in addition to their performance in Christ Chapel. “Our honor band and orchestra festival is one of the oldest and largest festivals anywhere in the upper midwest,” James Patrick Miller says. “High school students are consistent and effusive with their praise year after year, and everyone on our staff/team involved is proud of the artistic and pedagogical program we share annually.”

Björling Music Festival: Gustavus Jazz Jamboree

High school students also have the opportunity to be a part of the Gustavus Jazz Jamboree on March 6. High school jazz ensembles from throughout the midwest will gather to perform in Björling Recital Hall and work with Gustavus faculty and guest clinicians, as well as attend masterclasses with jazz professionals. This year, Gustavus is proud to celebrate 50 years of jazz at Gustavus with headlining artist Dave Stamps and his innovative Modx Ensemble. 

Björling Music Festival: Gustavus Honor Choir

This year marks the second annual Gustavus Honor Choir. Taking place March 8-9, 125 students from different high schools across the midwest will gather for choir rehearsals, masterclasses with faculty, and a finale performance in Christ Chapel with the Gustavus Choir. This year, the festival will also feature guest composer Dr. Joshua Shank, the youngest recipient of Raymond W. Brock Composition Award by American Choral Directors Association and the Eagan High School Concert Choir under the direction of Jim Cox. Nominations from choral directors are being accepted through January 17, 2020 and can be submitted here.

Björling Music Festival: Concerto Competition for High School Musicians

The final opportunity for high school students this year is the annual Concerto Competition. Open to high school instrumentalists and vocalists grades 9-12, this unique opportunity allows one outstanding student to perform with the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Ruth Lin on March 28 in Björling Recital Hall. “Having the opportunity to perform with a full symphony orchestra is quite rare,” Lin says. “I believe it can be a life-changing and memorable experience for any young musician.” Applications are due November 1 at 12 p.m., at which time 5 finalists will be selected. All finalists will receive a lesson with Gustavus faculty, and a Björling Music Scholarship should they choose to attend Gustavus. For more information, visit


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