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Last minute request: DL choral teacher asked to direct All-State Choir

When All-State Women's Choir conductor Doreen Rao was stuck on the East Coast due to a massive snowstorm during the annual Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) convention, Detroit Lakes High School vocal music director Kathryn Larson was asked to help.

Her response was: "You're kidding, right?"

Larson was already at the MMEA convention held in the Twin Cities to lead local students who performed in the Honor Choir, and as an All-State section team leader.

Larson was responsible for additional duties backstage and was familiar with the workings of Orchestra Hall.

But she wasn't expecting to learn Rao's music in less than 24 hours and be able to pull it off.

"I think it was the only time in the history of All State that something like this happened," she said. "It was a bit nerve wracking because the music was brutally challenging."

After she found out she needed to bring her concert dress to the convention because she's be conducting on stage, she panicked, but didn't let it ruin the thrill of the job.

She had a total of six hours to rehearse the music with the girls and then it was show time.

"I certainly didn't have it in my blood the way I do one of my concerts," Larson said.

When Larson got on stage, one thing quickly went through her mind: how many famous conductors performed from that very same podium.

"We weren't going to let it take away from the joy of performing," she said. "How often in your lifetime do you get to perform on the stage of Orchestra Hall."

MMEA executive director Mary Schaefle said because Larson has been involved with the All-State Choir for a long time, she was a good fit for the job.

"We know her reputation as an educator, as a director that she's very, very capable and she would just do an amazing job and able and willing to step in at the last minute," she said.

High School principal Steve Morben, who attended the convention as a parent, said Larson rose to the occasion.

"I know why they chose her to be the person to do it," he said. "She has the confidence and the ability to carry it forward."