Revealing the Music

Published 6:50 pm Friday, November 26, 2021

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MacPhail, ASO partner in opening up concert experience


It was a busy day on the MacPhail Center for Music syllabus on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Students were going to be learning about four composers intricately woven into the fabric of Christmas tradition, brought to life and sound by their instructor Jacob Crosby.

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This class, and others like it, are a bridge between two influential music organizations in Austin: MacPhail and the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

MacPhail Center for Music instructor Jacob Crosby leads people through a class of its Music for Life Series. Eric Johnson/

The classes this year are part of the Music For Life series, which walks alongside ASO shows in an effort to connect the music and is geared toward those 55 and older.

“Music for Life is part of MacPhail and has been part of MacPhail for years,” said Austin site Director Cheryl Berglund. “For this series we kind of talked about what Austin would want.”

It’s not surprising that MacPhail is working alongside the ASO. The ASO is the oldest symphony orchestra in the State of Minnesota at over 62 years old. Many of MacPhail’s instructors play on the ASO, including Crosby, who is the ASO’s principal violist.

It’s a collaboration that just made sense.

“It’s a very good collaboration,” Berglund said. “Almost all of our faculty perform with the ASO. In addition we have many of our students who get to perform at the same time as their teachers and be exposed to fantastic artists.”

On this particular Saturday, Crosby was introducing those in attendance to the lives of “The Nutrcracker” creator Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, Irving Berlin, LeRoy Anderson and Johnny Marks. The three latter composers are known for the songs “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Combine artists with the dancers from Acclaim Dance Studio and those attending the class were given a connection to the upcoming ASO concert on Dec. 12.

“In this particular class, called Unwrapping the Orchestra, we are detailing out the music that is going to be played at the Austin Symphony Orchestra concert,” Berglund said.

Not only did attendees learn about the composers, but they were given a demonstration by some of Acclaim’s dancers, who will be receiving a one-of-a-kind experience themselves.

“Acclaim is very excited to perform with the Austin Symphony Orchestra,” said Director Bridget Bellrichard. “It will be a great experience for the dancers to perform with the orchestra.”

Megan Medgaarden, playing the Sugar Plum Fairy in Acclaim Dance’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” performs during the MacPhail Center for Music’s Music for Life class. Eric Johnson/

Acclaim dancers will be performing with the ASO in the Dec. 12 show, occupying the stage with the symphony orchestra during the performance.

But they also have their own presentation of the “Nutcracker Suite” at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, in Austin High School’s Knowlton Auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door or can be purchased at Acclaim Dance.

“It’s amazing,” Berglund said. “It’s even more amazing to be able to collaborate with MacPhail and the ASO and then extend to another medium of dance. It’s fantastic.”

The Dec. 12 show is at 2 p.m. at Knowlton Auditorium. Tickets are anywhere between $12-$75.

For more on the Austin Symphony Orchestra, visit:

For more on MacPhail, visit:

For more on Acclaim Studio of Dance, visit:

Acclaim Dance Studio “Nutcracker Suite” Cast

Clara: Sydney Waller

Part Kids: Charley Collins, Anna Asmus, Adalyn Anderley, Ella Clausman, Dani Riskedahl. Blake Adams, Harmony Rollo

Spanish: Skye Anderley

Chinese: Mikayla Arett, Addison Batten and Ella Slowinski

Russian: Ashlyn Blust and Chelsey Collins

French: Seanna Kubas

Sugar Plum Fairy: Megan Medgaarden

Waltz of the Flowers: Skye Anderley, Gertie Berke, Ashlyn Blust, Elayna Blust, Chelsey Collins, Alexis Forsberg, Alex Goetz, Kirsten Koopal, Seanna Kubas, Annika Louters, Megan Medgaarden, Megan Silbaugh, Allison Srp.