33rd annual Björling Music Festival Goes VirtualThe Gustavus Department of Music's annual day-long event will take place in a virtual format on Saturday, March 27.
Posted on March 1st, 2021 by

For over three decades, the Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Music’s Björling Music Festival has connected high school students and conductors, Gustavus student musicians and faculty, and working professionals for a series of workshops, presentations, and performances. As organizers considered how to support of high-level learning and interpersonal connection with increased safety measures in place due to COVID-19, it became clear that a virtual festival would provide the best possible format for the 2021 event.

The 33rd annual Björling Music Festival will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 27 with a presentation from guest artist is Omar Thomas, who will discuss composition and the blending of jazz with classical idioms. Sydney Guillaume will present on Haitian rhythms at 1:30 p.m., and Lessa Terry will give a jazz strings masterclass at 3 p.m.

“Our whole department will miss having all the teachers and students on campus, but going virtual has allowed us to engage with three renowned artists from across the country,” Douglas Nimmo Professor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and Björling Music Festival director James Patrick Miller said. “There are more opportunities for students and teachers too since they don’t have to work around the confines of a normal school days. We’re already seeing registrations from states where we’ve never had attendees before.”

Supplementing the three guest artists will be over a dozen mini-classes taught by Gustavus music faculty covering everything from video game and film music to performance anxiety to music and social change. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in several of the smaller sessions throughout the day in addition to learning about the Gustavus admission process and having a meet-and-greet session with the conductors of Gustavus touring ensembles.

“I’m excited about how this opportunity has really been a bonding experience for our department, and those close collaborations have resulted in a multifaceted festival that celebrates so many different areas of musical excellence,” Miller added. “The Björling Music Festival is about opening up what we do to the world and getting as many people as possible involved in sharing the diversity of music.”

The 2021 Björling Music Festival incorporates all six of the Department of Music’s annual high school music festivals—the honor band, honor orchestra honor choir, jazz jamboree, concerto/aria competition, and the high school band windvitational—in addition to adding piano, organ, theory, and composition to this year’s offerings.

General registration for high school students is available online now at a cost of $10 (scholarships available to those for whom cost is a barrier to participation). Directors, teachers, and professional musicians should register here. More information about the Björling Music Festival is available online.

“This year’s Björling Music Festival provided us an opportunity as a department to dig into different topics and touch on broad, diverse genres of music,” Miller said. “This is about lifting up our values and sharing with everyone who loves and creates music.”


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