Friday, August 22, 2008

Conservatory registration open house planned for Aug. 27

Winona, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts semester I registration open house will be held 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 West 10th St.

Registration for semester I dance classes and MCA’s new youth choir — the Winona Area Youth Singers — will be accepted at the open house. Classes begin Sept. 8. Tours of the facility will be available, refreshments will be served, and students will have the opportunity to meet new and returning faculty and staff. Additionally, students can be fitted for dance attire needs. MCA’s dance attire boutique offers quality basics, including leotards, tights, ballet slippers, jazz shoes, and tap shoes.

Class offerings are available for anyone age 3 to adult and include beginning- through advanced-levels in classical ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, Pilates, and a special tuition-free boys program which offers a “Dance Technique for Boys” class. Semester I also contains programming for teens and adults, including teen/adult ballet, as well as classes in partnership with Winona County Community Education (clogging I, clogging II, dance fitness, and Piyo).

MCA’s new music division offers a youth choir – Winona Area Youth Singers — for students in grades three through six who have been introduced to choir/music in their elementary or middle school years. Winona Area Youth Singers seeks to encourage and nurture the talent of these young vocal students and provide them with an opportunity for additional educational and performance opportunities.

Academic credit is available through Cotter High School and Saint Mary’s University’s dance minor program for a variety of MCA dance classes.

Semester I classes will provide 10 weeks of instruction, concluding with a demonstration week, Nov. 10-16.

In addition to participation in classes, students and community members age 5 to adult are invited to audition for MCA’s Dance Repertory Company production of “The Nutcracker.” “Nutcracker” auditions are 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Valéncia Arts Center. “The Nutcracker” performances will be Dec. 4-7 at Saint Mary’s University’s Page Theatre.

Winona Area Youth Singers will conclude Semester I following their inaugural concert, Nov. 23, and their collaborative performance in The Nutcracker.

Tuition for MCA classes varies depending on course length and level. Discounts and scholarships are available.

For more information about MCA’s open house, dance classes, Winona Area Youth Singers, or The Nutcracker, visit, e-mail or call (507) 453-5501. Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts is an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University.

MCA’s Dance Repertory Company ‘Nutcracker’ auditions Aug. 28

WINONA, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts will host auditions for the Dance Repertory Company’s 2008 production of “The Nutcracker” 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28. Auditions will be held at the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 West 10th St., and are open to youth and adult dancers, actors and community members age 5 and older. A variety of roles are available for this year’s “Nutcracker” performances, scheduled for Dec. 4-7 at Saint Mary’s University’s Page Theatre.

Participants are encouraged to wear movable clothing and are asked to bring a headshot to the audition (color or black and white photos of any size are acceptable). Intermediate and advanced dancers should be dressed in appropriate ballet attire. Children ages 12 or younger should be accompanied by parents or guardians.

By presenting “The Nutcracker” every other holiday season, The Dance Repertory Company continues a special holiday tradition for the Winona and surrounding area communities. Children and adults alike will enjoy this timeless classic that allows us to transform into a child again, and experience the magical spells of Herr Drosselmeyer and the sweet dreams of Clara with visions of Nutcracker princes and Sugar Plum fairies.

Come be a part of this magical holiday tradition! For more information, visit, e-mail, or call (507) 453-5501. The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts is an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Area musicians invited to join Saint Mary’s Concert Band

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Concert Band, founded in 1990 as a college-community partnership ensemble, will hold its first rehearsal of the 2008-09 season from 6:45 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27. Dr. Janet Heukeshoven, associate professor of music, directs both the Concert Band and the select Wind Ensemble.

The rehearsal will be held in Room 158 of Saint Yon’s Hall. All interested musicians are welcome to attend the first sight-reading informational rehearsal of the season. Advanced-level high school students and adult community musicians are welcome to join the SMU collegiate musicians to perform a wide variety of wind band music.

Auditions will be individually scheduled shortly after the first rehearsal; audition music will be provided to all players on Aug. 27. If you are interested in the ensemble but are not able to attend the first info-rehearsal, please contact Dr. Heukeshoven to make other arrangements. The Concert Band rehearses 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and 6:45 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The Wind Ensemble rehearses 8 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays.

The band’s first performance this year will be for the inauguration of SMU’s new president, Brother William Mann, on Sept. 26. The following day, the band will play in a concert shared with the SMU choirs on Saturday, Sept. 27, in Page Theater as part of the university’s Family Weekend. The concert will feature the world premiere of Marc Bernstein's “Ashkenazy Fathers,” a piece composed for concert band and jazz combo. Bernstein will be the featured soprano saxophone soloist in the jazz combo of his new work and will be in residency the week before the performance. This composition is the fifth new work commissioned by the SMU Concert Band through the generous contribution of the Sam and Helen Kaplan Foundation.

The second planned concert will be a traditional Christmas concert with small ensembles performing for the lobby party on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 7, at St. Cecilia Theater.

Detailed information regarding band membership auditions (held Aug. 29-Sept. 3) will be available at the first rehearsal. There are openings in most sections; brass players are especially needed this fall!

Contact Dr. Heukeshoven at (507) 457-1675 or for additional information. Please call or e-mail if you plan to attend the Aug. 27 informational rehearsal so music folders and audition materials will be available for everyone.

Next SMU art show to feature photography of Great Lakes

Wisconsin photographer Rus Hurt will display photography, including “Harris Johnson Mending Nets” (above) and “January Ice” (below) Aug. 20 through Sept 18 at Saint Mary’s University.

WINONA, Minn. — Wisconsin photographer Rus Hurt will feature a variety of documentary and nature work Aug. 20 through Sept. 18 at Saint Mary’s University. The show, titled, “In Suspension: Photographs from the Upper Great Lakes” is divided into two sections:

• “Observations of a Lake Superior Fishery Past & Present” — a series of documentary photographs spanning a 35-year period of a Lake Superior fishery; and
• “Moments in the Wake” — a two-part glimpse into special moments on the Upper Lakes. Some of these photos are from the shipside view of a merchant seaman during the “Winter Runs of 1974-76.” Additionally, Hurt, a native of Port Wing, Wis., will display a collection of colorful nature-based seasonal shots, taken along Lake Superior’s south shore, where he lives.

A closing reception is planned for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at SMU’s Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries.

The galleries are located in the Toner Student Center. Admission is free and open to the public, and gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. For more information, call (507) 457-1652.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts announces new youth choir, WAYS

WINONA, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts invites area students in grades three through six to participate in a new youth choir, the Winona Area Youth Singers (WAYS).

Young people who have been introduced to choir and music in their elementary or middle schools and are seeking additional educational and performance opportunities are encouraged to audition. WAYS is dedicated to providing quality, artistic, and educational programs for all young people, regardless of their financial circumstances.

The repertoire and focus of WAYS will be more intensive by nature. The choir is meant to complement a student’s current vocal training. A letter of recommendation from a school music teacher is strongly encouraged.

WAYS will produce two concerts per year (an inaugural concert Nov. 23 and a spring concert second semester). Additionally, WAYS will perform in conjunction with MCA’s Dance Repertory Company in “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 3-7) as well as with Saint Mary’s University choirs in a special mentorship program second semester. WAYS members will also participate in community outreach by performing at nursing homes and for other charitable events.

WAYS will be directed by Lindsy O’Shea, who holds a Masters of Arts in Instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music Performance from Saint Mary's University. She has been involved with choral music — as a singer or director — for 15 years. O'Shea previously taught choral and general music in the Rochester and Faribault Public Schools. Additionally, she worked with the choirs of Blue Lake Fine Arts camp and with the Michigan State University Children's Choir. She is currently adjunct faculty with Saint Mary's, where she directs the women's choir and teaches private voice lessons. She also sings with the La Crosse Chamber Chorale.

“After 35 years of offering quality dance education and performance opportunities to Winona area youth, we are thrilled to be moving forward with our music curriculum through the new WAYS program,” said Christine Martin, MCA managing director. “Integrating various performing arts genres has always been a goal for MCA. Now with our summer theatre camps, yearlong dance programming, and the new Winona Area Youth Singers, we are excited about offering the full spectrum of the performing arts.”

Financial need-based scholarships are available for WAYS participants through MCA’s scholarship fund, provided by the Hiawatha Education Foundation.

Registration for WAYS will be accepted at the MCA registration open house, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 4–7 p.m., at the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 West 10th St. Placement Auditions for WAYS will be held Thursday, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. WAYS will meet weekly on Thursdays, 6:30–8 p.m. throughout the MCA first semester (Sep. 8 – Dec. 7). Tuition for participation in WAYS is $150.

For more information about WAYS or MCA’s other performing arts programming, visit, e-mail or call (507) 453-5501.