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Art­Works show to take place Nov. 4

The 13th annual Art­Works Youth Music Per­for­mance Com­pe­tition will take place Nov. 4., when stu­dents ages 11 – 18 will have the oppor­tunity to showcase their musical talents. Art­Works of Hillsdale, the county’s arts and culture council, is hosting this annual musical com­pe­tition. Stu­dents compete for cash prizes in vocal, string, key­board, brass and wind, and ensemble cat­e­gories.

“The purpose of the event is to give stu­dents a chance to practice their per­for­mance skills and get coaching from judges who are very skilled in their respective cat­e­gories,” Connie Sexton, pres­ident of Art­Works, said.

Each par­tic­ipant is allotted approx­i­mately eight minutes on stage. Judges offer cri­tiques in real time, not just a final judgement, with the hope that the event will be an instructive learning oppor­tunity for young musi­cians.

Per­formers will vie for awards of up to $100 for high schoolers and $50 for middle schoolers. Stu­dents under the age of 11 are also invited to perform for the judges and receive a cri­tique of their per­for­mance, although they are inel­i­gible for awards. Prizes are funded by local busi­nesses and indi­viduals.

“We sent out spon­sorship letters to sup­porters and told them we had an exciting year planned,” Sexton said. “We had a great response.”

In addition to spon­soring the prizes, dona­tions help offset the cost of trans­portation and accom­mo­da­tions for the judges, whom the council invites from outside the county. This year’s panel includes vocalist and Hillsdale College alumna Giles Simmer, Hillsdale College music faculty member Jacqueline Hanson, and pianist Nikie Oechsle of the Jackson Sym­phony Orchestra.

Approx­i­mately 25 stu­dents are expected to par­tic­ipate in the com­pe­tition, a decrease of about 50 percent from pre­vious years. David Pesh­lakai, vice pres­ident of Art­Works, attributes the drop to the fact that the event is being held two months earlier than normal. Nonetheless, he said he hopes the change will pay off.

“The goal in moving it earlier was to give kids a head-start in preparing for the bigger statewide and national com­pe­ti­tions that are also coming up in a few weeks,” Pesh­lakai said. “We wanted to give stu­dents the chance to do a dry-run and get feedback.”

Heather Tritchka said her daughter Chloe has par­tic­i­pated in the Art­Works com­pe­tition since seventh grade, taking first place in key­board three times and winning the senior vocal division twice. Now a senior at Hillsdale Academy, Chloe hopes to con­tinue pur­suing music at Hillsdale College. Her mother credits the competition’s low-pressure, edu­ca­tional atmos­phere with fos­tering her daughter’s love for music.

“Art­works was a gentle way for my child to get some expe­rience per­forming and com­peting,” Tritchka said. “Going to that first Art­Works com­pe­tition was a good way to get over the fear of the word ‘com­pe­tition,’ which is a real concern for a lot of kids. But the judges were so kind and helpful and encour­aging and she really appre­ciated it.”

Pesh­lakai said he hopes the 2018 com­pe­tition will be no dif­ferent.

“We’re really looking forward to cre­ating a pos­itive expe­rience for the stu­dents com­peting at this year’s event.”

The event will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Hillsdale First Pres­by­terian Church. The contest is open to the public.