The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Music Division hosted the Winona Area Youth Singers winter concert Nov. 22 in the Valencia Arts Center Recital Hall.
The Winona Area Youth Singers consists of 12 children ranging from fourth to eighth grade from the Winona community. Mandy Whiseant, administrative assistant of the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Music Division, said that the centers are held to give the students an opportunity to perform and be in front of a crowd.
“We want students to become more involved and interested in the arts,” said Whiseant.
The group performed seven songs by various famous singers such as G.F. Handel and M. Lightfoot. The Winona Area Youth Singers Director Lindsy O'Shea said that the kids have been working their hearts out for the past three months in order to be ready for the concert.
The Winona Area Youth Singers has been a growing choir since 2008. O’Shea said she is trying to reach out and encourage more singers to join the choir.
“I want to be able to give more kids the chance to experience music differently than how they do in a school setting,” O’Shea said.
In past years, the students have had to pay a tuition in order to be a part of the group, but this year, a grant has allowed the group to be tuition-free. Whiseant said that the Sewell Family Grant, which was put in place this year, is giving more students the privilege of joining the choir.
The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Music Division now offers private lessons along with the Winona Area Youth Singers. Students from Winona State University and Saint Mary’s University have also volunteered their time to give younger students one-on-one lessons for a variety of different instruments.
“I love helping students to learn music because I think that it gets the kids thinking and helps them to be creative,” said Ryan Ballanger, a saxophone instructor at MCA.
Ballanger is currently working with five students, one of whom also performed a saxophone piece during Monday's concert. Ballanger said the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts for the Music Division is trying to expand by offering more instruments and hiring more instructors.
The Winona Area Youth Singers will be performing next in “The Nutcracker” put on by Saint Mary’s University.
More information about the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts and The Winona Area Youth singers available at www.mnconservatoryforthearts.org/music/index.