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Vocal students take state honors

Six of Kathy Larson’s vocal students who participated in the MMTA regional voice contests and advanced to state are, front from left, McKenzie Mann (honorable mention) and Shea Henderson (Young Artist winner), back from left, Kalley Waller (second place), Katie Heyer, Alexa Anderson and Missy Larson. Brian Basham/Tribune

Though she has been the choral music director at Detroit Lakes High School for many years now, Kathryn Larson also has a number of private voice students who have been achieving great things outside of the high school setting.

Shea Henderson, a senior at DLHS, recently took part in the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA) Young Artist competition — and came home with first place honors.

Though there were only three students competing in this year’s event, Larson said placing at all was not a guaranteed outcome.

Shea Henderson

“They have a standard in mind, and if there isn’t a performer that meets the standard, they won’t place anyone that year — or they could choose a second and third place winner, but no first place,” Larson said.

In this year’s competition, Henderson took first place honors, while the other two competitors failed to place.

“And the judges asked Shea to sing two of her pieces at the (MMTA) festival concert held that afternoon, as the culmination of the state competition,” Larson said.

Each year’s Young Artist contest has several competitive categories, including piano, organ, guitar, strings and woodwinds as well as voice, she added.

Each competitor must memorize and perform a program of at least 15 minutes’ duration; in the vocal competition, that program must include songs demonstrating contrasting styles, from different eras and composers, and utilizing a variety of languages including German, Italian and French as well as English.

“You may not perform any pop or musical theater selections,” Larson added.

Henderson’s program consisted of Italian, German, French and Spanish art songs, as well as an operatic selection, from Giacomo Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.”

“She did have an English song selected, but the judges said, ‘We want to hear the Puccini,’” Larson said. “She didn’t even end up singing in her native language.

“She performed some very challenging music. We worked extremely hard on her languages this year, and I think it paid off, because the judges said they appreciated her accuracy (in pronunciation).”

Six of Larson’s vocal students also participated in MMTA regional voice contests in January and advanced to the state competition held on Feb. 23 in St. Cloud.

Katie Heyer, McKenzie Mann, Missy Larson, Alexa Anderson and Kalley Waller took part in the Level 3 competition; while Mia Martinez participated in the Level 2 category.

Mia Martinez

“There are five levels,” Larson explained. “Level 1 is age 12 and under, Level 2 is age 13-14, Level 3 is ages 15-16, Level 4 is 17-18 and Level 5 is age 19-23.”

Larson’s students all did well, but there were a couple who were singled out for recognition: Waller took second place in her age division, and Mann received an honorable mention for her performance as well.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454