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High school musicians cap festival with concert performance

Melanie Popejoy (left), UND associate director of choral activities, leads the Allegro women's choir in rehearsal Saturday morning at Hughes Fine Arts Center during the 34th annual UND Honor Band, Choir and Strings Festival. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald1 / 4
Fargo South student Colton Thomasson, 17, tunes his euphonium during wind ensemble rehearsal Saturday afternoon at Chester Fritz Auditorium as part of the 34th annual UND Honor Band, Choir and Strings Festival. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 4
High school singers from both North Dakota and Minnesota rehearse a song under the direction of Dean Jilek (not pictured), director of choral activities at UND, Saturday afternoon at Hughes Fine Arts Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 4
UND associate director of choral activities Melanie Popejoy leads the Allegro women's choir in warmups during rehearsal Saturday morning at Hughes Fine Arts Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald4 / 4

Temperatures plummeted far below zero the weekend of the 34th annual Honor Band, Choir and Strings Festival at UND.

“But (the students) came anyway, from all walks of life, to make music together,” said Dr. James Popejoy, UND band director and music professor

About 400 young musicians from high schools across Minnesota and North Dakota will present a concert at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Chester Fritz Auditorium on the UND campus. The performers arrived to Grand Forks on Friday and had their first rehearsal as a full group that afternoon, nearly one month after receiving their sheet music for the festival.

“This group never really existed yesterday before 1:00 p.m.,” Popejoy said.

Judges selected Sunday’s performers after listening to at least 850 students in October. Many who made the cut came from towns smaller than the ensemble gathered this weekend.

“And yet, (we) have 400 musicians together, performing and playing music,” Popejoy said.

Aside from giving serious young music students a chance to participate in a full ensemble and make connections with other adolescents from across the two states, Popejoy said there are other valuable “byproducts” to the experience, including skills in teamwork, leadership and creativity.

“It helps them to grow as musicians and people,” he said. “We hope that they’ll take this experience back with them and share with other students and colleagues.”

If you go

What: Annual Honor Band, Choir and Strings Festival at UND

When: Sunday, Jan 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Where: Chester Fritz Auditorium on University Avenue

Cost: Tickets for the Sunday concert can be purchased at the door: $7 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens, or $14 per family.

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