How many Middle School choirs can boast that they [almost] got to perform for an ex-president?! The answer? I don’t know. But the Blake seventh and eighth grade Choristers and Concert Choir were two of them, whatever the number may be! There was no growling from these Bears when they performed for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Gala in October. President Bill Clinton was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, but, alas, he was snowed in on the East Coast the night of the event. There was, however, an audience of nearly 1,000 people to appreciate the vocal talent of our boys and girls. In addition to praise for their wonderful singing, the students received compliments on their poise and professionalism (except for the one guy near the back who kept snapping the bow tie of his neighbor. Okay, parents, try and figure out if that was your son.) These Middle Schoolers were stellar ambassadors for Blake throughout the evening. A standing ovation, please, for Dan LeJeune, whose Herculean efforts led to this great success for our singers! (BTW, relax. Your son was fine. I made the bow tie thing up. Just feeling a little cocky today.)
More Blake music news: Three Upper School band members were selected to join other top high school musicians from Minnesota and the Eastern Dakotas to perform with the University of St. Thomas Honor Bands. Inder Majumdar ’12 played alto saxophone, Alexandria Herr ’13 flute, and Daniel Shan ’15 tuba. The three spent the day rehearsing with the honor bands and then performed in concert under the baton of Dr. Jack Stamp, director of bands at Indiana University at Pennsylvania. Each of the two honor bands brought in more than 100 young musicians to form ensembles with others they had just met. By end-of-day, each performed with polish and inspiration! Way to blow, Inder, Alex and Daniel!
On yet another musical … note: Blake’s Upper School A Cappella Choir performed in a master class (a public performance followed by critique) during Gustavus Adolphus College’s conference of the American Choral Directors Association. Upper School Choral Music Director Carrie Enstad and her singers performed exquisitely. Their clinician, Judy Bowers, from Florida State University, was very complimentary, as was the audience, which offered rave reviews.
Blake singers also participated in several honors choirs alongside other auditioned students from across the state. Singers immersed themselves in a full day of rehearsals and concerts. Please sing your praises to the following students:
Kylie ’17 – 7/8 Girls’ Honor Choir
Nikolai ’16, Mark ’16 and Tristan ’17 – 7/8 Boys’ Honor Choir
Kaitlyn ’20 – Elementary Honor Choir (gr. 4-6)
And, as our last bit of musical news: the MN State Elementary Honor Choir premiered “Banjo Sam,” a choral piece composed by Blake’s own Jay Broeker. The Minnesota American Choral Directors Association commissioned Jay to write a new choral work to celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the organization. Complete with a banjo player, Jay at the piano, 10 student tap dancers and Kaitlyn ’20, the choir of 125 brought the audience to their feet … where they all did a shuffle-ball-change.
The “Spelltacular,” the annual Middle School spelling bee, was held at the end of October. The audience was, indeed, spellbound when, in the 11th round, Jackson ’17 won the competition with the spelling of “Eupepsia.” Jackson masticated on the word ever-so-slightly, paused, and then spit out the correct spelling, thus qualifying him for the regional Bee this spring. The results summary:
1st Overall: Jackson ’17
2nd Overall: Nikolai ’16
3rd Overall: Connor ’17
There was a first-place tie between sixth graders Renny and Sneha.
Derek ’18 knows how to put the Tiger in his Woods … and his irons, for that matter! Derek has been an avid golfer since he was three years old. During the warmer months, he practices and plays more than 30 hours a week. He has competed on an international level for the past three years and has won his age division in the Minnesota Jr. PGA Transitional Tour twice. He recently placed third in a regional tournament in California. His most memorable moment was a hole-in-one while playing with fellow golfer and friend Devon Johnson ’12. (*pictured.) Derek has promised to help people like me understand why an Eagle is not a Birdie and a Bogey is not a Bogart.
Coco Kaminski ’15 has sure been busy lacing up her skates lately! She was the Intermediate Ladies silver medalist in the Minnesota state competition and an Intermediate Ladies finalist at the Mid-Atlantic Championship in New York City this past September. In October, Coco competed against 87 other strong figure skaters in the nine-state, Upper Great Lakes Regional Competition. After a shaky start, she performed well enough to be among the top 20 girls who advanced to the finals. Then she really took off! She had a very nice short program, which set her in seventh place, and an outstanding long program, which set her in third place. She ended up in fourth place overall, which earned her a metal and an opportunity to advance to the U.S. Figure Skating Junior National Championships in December where she was one of only 42 girls from around the country to compete.
This past October, Blake sailors Joe Anderson ’13, Anders Ekholm ’13, Abby Morical ’12 and Annika ’16 participated in the Great Oaks Invitational Regatta qualifying event on Lake Okauchee near Pewaukee, Wis. Blake just missed qualifying for this high school national championship, but because of their stellar performance, they were later awarded one of the six slots that were later added. The boys sailed well and finished in the top half of the competition. When there’s wind, there’s a way, right sailors?!
Brianna ’16 has been steadily working her way toward a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Or, at least toward her name in lights on Broadway. Fame’s a-comin’ for Brianna, who was a pivotal performer in the Stages Theatre production of “A Silent Night for Peef.” Brianna rehearsed Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. for four weeks before beginning the show’s five-week run. Hmm. Next time my son says he doesn’t have time to help with the dishes because he has too much homework, I think I’ll sign him up for a play — then he’ll really know what “not having enough time” feels like. Way to go, Brianna — that is quite a feat!