APS” Big 9 Music Fest returning to Austin High School

Published 5:50 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

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By Gene Schott

AHS Orchestra Director

The Big 9 Music Festival is the longest running music festival of its kind in the country and is seen as a pillar of musical performance, creation, collaboration, and support for music education nationwide. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the festival has been on hiatus for the last two years.  This year, however, we’re back, and Austin Public Schools is very excited to be hosting the 88th Big 9 Music Festival on Friday, April 29.

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Throughout the day, Austin High School will be buzzing with over two thousand music students from the 12 Big 9 schools. There will be a total of 35 ensembles performing during the day for their peers, with choirs in Christgau Hall, bands in Knowlton Auditorium, and orchestras in Packer Gym.

These performances will be critiqued by our three guest clinicians:

• Our guest band clinician is Dr. Peter Haberman, Director of Bands at Concordia College in Moorhead.

• Our guest orchestra clinicians is Joshua Reznicow, Director of Orchestral Activities at Linn-Marr Schools in Marion, Iowa.

• Our guest choir clinician is G. Phillip Shoultz, Associate Artistic Director of VocalEssence, adjunct faculty for Graduate Conducting at University of St. Thomas, and Cantor at Westwood Lutheran Church.

Once all 35 ensembles have performed, the top students from each Big 9 school come together to create the Big 9 Select Orchestra, Band, and Choir. These amazing ensembles will be directed by our guest clinicians and The Big 9 Select Finale Concert will take place on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Packer Gym.

In true Austin fashion, we felt this return of the Big 9 Music Festival needed something special. In addition to the amazing music that will be performed by all three ensembles that evening, for the first time in Big 9 Music Festival history, with support from the Hormel Foundation, Music Boosters of Austin, and the legacy of Blair Lawhead, the Big 9 Select Orchestra will be world-premiering a brand-new piece for full orchestra entitled “Majestic Fields” written by our orchestra guest director, Joshua Reznicow!

Tickets for the Finale Concert are $8 for adults and $6 for students. They can be purchased at the door. If you cannot make it in-person, it will also be live-streamed on the Austin Public Schools YouTube page.

The fact that this festival has persevered through world wars, a myriad of industrial and information revolutions, and even a global pandemic, stands as a testament that music education is not an “elective,” but rather, a main tenet to a well-balanced education, and we’re overjoyed to be able to host this year’s event.  Austin Public Schools is excited to invite the community of Austin, as well as our amazing colleagues, students, school board members and administration from all the Big 9 Schools to join us for a momentous day/evening of music making!