At a reception and awards ceremony on April 3, the Five Wings Arts Council, a regional organization representing five counties, presented Robyn Gray with an award for Leadership in the Arts. Robyn has been Director of St. Francis Music Center since 1994. She was unable to be present for the event as she was in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Arts Board offices reviewing grant applications from groups across Minnesota who are seeking funding for a variety of projects. Sisters Bernice Rieland and Adela Gross accepted the award on behalf of Robyn.
Sue Gens, Director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, paid tribute to Robyn and her dedicated leadership in the arts in Little Falls and beyond. She noted that Robyn has been a leader in many arts organizations over the years and continues to inspire young people with a love of music and the arts.
Part of the entertainment for the program was provided by URock band Power Plant. This is a group of four young teenagers, under the direction of Greg Langlois and Tony Armogast of St. Francis Music Center. They were a big hit with the crowd! Greg Langlois, guitar teacher and director of the URock summer program at SFMC, also paid tribute to Robyn for her leadership and her help to him personally by giving him a chance to use his talents to help young people.
Photo L to R: Greg Langlois, Sister Adela Gross, Kevin Steuven, Robyn Gray, Pat Boser and Bobbi French
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce that Sarah Dahl has been added to their teaching staff. Sarah has been a violinist in the St. Cloud and surrounding area since she was 14, when she joined the St. Cloud Symphony. She also performed with the St. Cloud Orchestra as a soloist as a winner of the Young Artists Competition. She has played in orchestras from California to Washington D.C., and has appeared live on Minnesota Public Radio. She has studied at St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota and continuously seeks new avenues of learning. Sarah has been teaching for almost five years and loves to be part of young minds absorbing music! She has a young son named Oliver who is almost 3. Sarah is available to teach violin and viola.
Sarah joins Bobbi French as the orchestral strings teaching staff at the Music Center. Bobbi French has a B.A. in music education from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She has studied and performed on violin, voice and piano since her youth and has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and director of community ensembles and musicals. Bobbi’s goal is to teach students of all ages and ability levels to appreciate and create beauty in the world through music. Bobbi teaches strings and piano. Her lessons emphasize music theory, instrument technique, note-reading and sight-reading, ear training and musical expression. Bobbi is also the conductor of the Con Brio Orchestra and the Sforzando Orchestras at the Music Center.
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. Everyone is welcome!! For more information, please call (320) 632-0637 or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce Christopher Borash and Nina Quillo as the recipients of the 2014 Sister Justina Bieganek Music Scholarships. The scholarship was established in 2004 by family members, friends and fans of Sister Justina in honor of her 75th Anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. Sister Justina worked at St. Francis Music Center since its start in 1979. She passed away at the age of 100, but her spirit of joy and peace still fill the halls of the Music Center and she is remembered with love and respect by the students, staff and faculty.
Christopher Borash is in sixth grade at Royalton Public Schools. He has played piano for the past 5 years and percussion for 2 years. Christopher also participates in North Prairie Youth Group, Royalton Cross Country, 4-H, and the North Prairie Choir. His favorite school subjects are lunch, science and math! He also enjoys swimming, running, and all sports as well as reading and playing music. In the future he hopes to attend St. Mary’s University in Winona and become a farmer.
Christopher is the son of Ron and Ann Borash of Bowlus. He is the second youngest in their family of 10. His piano teacher at St. Francis Music Center is Pat Boser.
Nina Paqariy Quillo is in eighth grade at Long Prairie Grey Eagle Schools. She has played violin for 8 years. Nina also participates in gymnastics, Episcopal Youth, Music Camp, and track and field. Her favorite subjects are physical education, choir, and family and consumer science. In her free time Nina enjoys gymnastics, playing violin, listening and playing music, dancing, singing, running and hanging out with her friends. In the future she hopes to become a professional musician, singer or dancer.
Nina is the daughter of Lalo and Elizabeth Quillo of Long Prairie. Nina plays in the Sforzando Orchestra and also plays with her family band, “The Quillo Strings.” Nina studies violin under Celo V’ec at St. Francis Music Center.
Christopher and Nina were chosen for this award, which is the highest scholarship honor awarded at the Music Center, based on their many musical achievements, and also for their love of music and for the hours that they dedicate to practicing. They are responsible, generous and truly exceptional young people.
In 2004 Vicki and Greg Spofford established a scholarship at St. Francis Music Center in honor of Vicki’s parents, Arley and Naomi Lyseng. Both of the Lyseng’s were lifetime music educators, touching the lives of thousands of children. To continue the legacy, the Spofford family made a donation to establish this annual scholarship.
This year’s recipient is Jakob Hyatt, who studies both guitar and piano and has just started percussion. Jakob studies under Bobbi French and Greg Langlois at the Music Center.
Jakob is in the 5th grade at Pierz Pioneer Elementary School. His favorite subjects include math and reading. He also participates in basketball, bowling, baseball, and sings in the choir at church and school. He is a part of the Prairie Fire Theater each summer and also enjoys playing Romans and Christians with his church group. In his free time, Jakob enjoys reading, playing music, playing family games and playing outside with his friends. He also has two little sisters and a dog that keep him busy. In the future Jakob would like to be a pastor or teacher.
Jakob was nominated for this award for his musicality and his wonderful attitude in his studies and life! He is the son of Joe and Amanda Hyatt of Pierz.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce that Lindsey Sobania was awarded the 2014 Guy Christiansen Music Scholarship. The recipient of the scholarship is chosen by teacher recommendation and the scholarship committee.
Guy Christiansen was born in 1916 in a log cabin, on a farm west of Eagle Bend, Minn. When he was a boy, his mother taught him to play guitar on an instrument made by her father. It was a beautiful guitar with two five-pointed stars of shell and frets made of cow horn. When Guy was a teenager, he entertained crowds of people who came from miles around to hear him sing and play.
Around 1931 he was offered an opportunity to travel to Fargo to perform on the radio. But, since these were hard times and his family was poor, the trip was considered frivolous and unaffordable. The Great Depression came and went. World War Two came and went, leaving Guy with permanent injuries to his left hand making it impossible to ever play the guitar again. Despite all this, his four children grew up in a home where music was played and sung by everyone. Guy whistled in the morning, sang after dinner and loved to play his many harmonicas.
Guy Christiansen passed away in the spring of 2005. In his memory his children established a music scholarship in his name knowing he would be quite pleased that his scholarship is helping a young person have the opportunity to enjoy life and spread happiness through music.
Lindsey has studied violin for over three years and piano for two years. Lindsey is a student of Celo V’ec at the Music Center. She is in third grade at Mary of Lourdes Elementary School, Little Falls. Her favorite school subjects are art, math and religion. She plays in the Con Brio and Sforzando Orchestra and also plays with her family for church and special occasions.
Lindsey loves to spend time with her family and enjoys animals, especially horses and kittens. She also enjoys reading and crafts. Her future plans include always playing violin and becoming a nurse. Lindsey is well known for her caring heart; she loves helping other people and is always willing to lend a helping hand.
Lindsey is the daughter of Monique and Rich Sobania of Little Falls.
In 2013 the Bernet Family established a music scholarship at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, to honor Sister Maurita Bernet who recently observed her 60th anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. It is also meant to honor their parents Marie and Joseph Anton Bernet who loved music and made personal sacrifices to provide music lessons to six daughters, all whom later attended St. Francis High School. The sisters love music and have shared their musical abilities in church choirs, as church organist, as violinist in orchestras, and more. The Bernet Family cannot imagine a life without music. They understand music is good for the spirit, can be a good discipline, and brings joy to many. With this scholarship they hope to help students find the joy in their own music, to develop and share their abilities, and through music add light and love to our world.
This year’s recipient of the award is Annika Rick. Annika is in 9th grade and is home schooled. She has taken piano lessons for seven years, guitar for five years, and also studies music theory. Annika’s favorite subjects in school are math and Swedish. She also plays in the Rick Family Bluegrass Gospel Band, helps in her church nursery and choir, and participates in triathlons.
In her free time, Annika spends time raising and caring for the family animals, including horses, dogs, cats, donkeys, mules, chickens, goats and rabbits – and in playing football with her brothers. In the future Annika dreams of attending college and possibly majoring in music education.
Annika studies piano and theory with Kevin Stueven and guitar with Greg Langlois, both teachers at St. Francis Music Center. She is the daughter of Bob and Tammy Rick of Browerville.
"Jelloslave" the quartet for Jacqueline Ultan, Michelle Kinney, Greg Schutte and Gary Waryan will perform in Sacred Heart Chapel, St. Francis Convent in Little Falls, Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, recently held their auditions for the 2014 Laura Jane Musser Merit Scholarships. Thirty-five students were nominated by their teachers to participate in the auditions. Each student performed two contrasting pieces for an independent judge. Students were judged on their ability at their level of study, so students of all ages were able to compete.
Eleven exceptional students were awarded a $100 scholarship to be used towards their 2013-2014 tuition. These students are: Kayla Bense and Claire Breitenfeldt from Long Prairie; Elijah Rick, Quinn Rick, and Greta Rick from Browerville; Kalli Sobania, Zachary Sobania, Ana Steadman, and Hannah Veillette of Little Falls; and Brianna Wuebkers and Cheyenne Wuebkers of Freeport.
The judges were impressed by all the students that auditioned. The auditions are open to all instruments. This year piano, violin, guitar, cello, flute, and voice students participated. The Merit Scholarship Program is funded by the Laura Jane Musser Trust for the purpose of rewarding and assisting highly dedicated and talented music students to continue their studies.
The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls will host an all-you-can-eat Soup Supper fund raiser on Saturday, February 1, 4:30-7 p.m., at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. Three varieties of homemade soups—Chicken Wild Rice, Beef Barley Vegetable, Bean & Ham and a special option for children; fresh baked cracked wheat and white bread, homemade bars and beverages will be served. Ticket prices include: Adults--$8; Children 5-12 years--$4; Children under 5 years—Free. Dinner tickets will be available at the door or by calling (320)632-2981. Proceeds from the Soup Supper will benefit St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls. For more information, contact (320)632-2981 or firstname.lastname@example.org; www.fslf.org.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, has many great opportunities for singers! The St. Francis Community Chorale will begin rehearsals on January 30 at 7 p.m., at St. Francis Music Center. The choir welcomes all adults who love to sing, there is no charge to participate, only a willingness to sing and have a good time. You do not have to take lessons at the Music Center to participate or be associated with the Franciscan Sisters, everyone is welcome to join. Rehearsals are every Thursday at 7 p.m.
The St. Francis Community Chorale is under the direction of Barb Stumpf. The chorale will be presenting a Spring Chorale Concert on April 27 at 2 p.m. The concert will feature a mixture of styles of music, sure to please everyone!
Men are also welcome to join a men’s ensemble that meets on Monday evenings starting on January 27 at 6:30 p.m. There is also a women’s group, Sestri, that meets on Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. This group sings folk songs of Eastern Europe.
All adults are welcome to join any of these groups; there are no auditions and there is no charge. All rehearsals are at St. Francis Music Center, located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, 116 8th Avenue SE. For more information, please contact the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit the website at: www.sfmusiccenter.org. You may also call the directors--Barb Stumpf at (320)632-8372 or Vicki Spofford at (320)632-2360.
Kendra Sobania will play her violin in Sacred Heart Chapel on Sunday, December 29, 2013, at 2 p.m., as a celebration of her years playing violin in the Little Falls community before she goes to college next fall.
"My purpose in doing the recital is to share the talent with which God has entrusted me," she said. "I feel very blessed and want to share with others because music can inspire people in so many different ways. Having the recital at St. Francis Convent is important to me because the Franciscan Sisters, St. Francis Music Center staff and my violin teacher, Celo V’ec, have supported me in so many ways, going above and beyond any of my expectations. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the wonderful people helping me."
Kendra is a student at Interlochen Arts Academy, a nine-month boarding school, in Michigan where she is spending her high school senior year taking academic classes and training in violin to prepare for attending a college music conservatory. One-fifth of the students at the Academy are international and the others come from all 50 states.
She has taken violin lessons from Celo V'ec at St. Francis Music Center for 12 years, from age five to 17. At age 14, Kendra cued the orchestra as concertmistress at the three-week Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan where she was surrounded by 2,500 talented musicians from 49 states and 45 countries. The Interlochen camp is the oldest and most prestigious summer arts program in the United States.
She will perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major as well as other selections with V'ec and members of her musical family. "This event will be somewhat like a senior recital and it is our intent to make this a fun event," Kendra said. "It is special to perform in the Chapel because I grew up playing there. No matter where my life takes me, I will always remember my hometown which has given me so much." Cookies and refreshments will be served after the performance.
"Music is a way to express my feelings and a great way to connect with others," she said. "Music is a part of our family: my great-grandma played the piano, my uncle is a great violinist, my mom plays the piano and my siblings play violin, cello, guitar and piano. It's a tradition to play music at family gatherings; it's a great way to spend time together."
Photo by Lisa Sherwood
Jammi Strunk, left, and Lori Rebischke, right, of U.S. Bank in Little Falls and St. Cloud, respectively, presented St. Francis Music Center with a $1,500 grant in support of its orchestra program. "U.S. Bank is honored to help support the Franciscan Sisters’ music program, which makes the arts more accessible to more children in our community and enriches the lives of many," said Rebischke, vice president and relationship manager for The Private Client Group of U.S. Bank. Accepting the check on behalf of the Music Center are violin student Monica Czech and instructor Celo V’ec who directs the two string orchestras.
Celo V’ec, strings instructor and orchestra director at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, returned to Yale University for the 60th anniversary concert of the Alumni of the Yale Russian Chorus (YRC) on November 10.
He joined the chorus as a freshman in the fall of 1967 and was a featured bass and baritone soloist during his four-year tenure. In the summer of 1968 the YRC toured in eastern Europe. During the tour, the regular conductor became ill and Celo, then 18, was appointed interim conductor as he led the group of 35 men in concerts in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
At the 60th reunion, 140 alumni of the YRC gathered for two days of rehearsal and a Sunday performance in Woolsey Hall, New Haven’s premier concert venue. The event was covered by the New York press as well as by Tass News Agency from Russia.
In 1969, women were admitted as undergraduates for the first time at Yale. That fall, V’ec founded and conducted the Yale Slavic Chorus, an all-women’s group devoted to Balkan folk music. Now celebrating their 44th year, they performed on the same stage. The St. Francis Music Center’s group, Sestri, is modeled on the Yale Slavic Chorus, performing much of the same music and in the same style as the original group.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, proudly presents “The Sforzando String Orchestra” and “The Con Brio String Orchestra” in a Christmas Concert on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.
The String Concerts have become a community favorite; all ages will enjoy this free concert. Little Falls is one of the few communities nationwide that is able to claim two string orchestras without having string programs in any area schools.
The concert will feature string artists of all ages playing a wide variety of music. Some of the highlights will be: Christmas Reflections; Prelude to Te Deum; Veni, Veni arranged by Chip Davis; Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Minor; Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss; Balkan Trilogy, arranged by Celo V’ec; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas; and much more.
Directing both groups will be Celo V’ec, professional violinist and strings instructor at St. Francis Music Center.
The finale of the concert will feature the St. Francis Community Chorale joining the Sforzando Orchestra for the Hallelujah Chorus by G. F. Handel and a community sing-along of Silent Night.
The public is invited to attend this free concert and hear wonderful string music in a beautiful setting. There will be baskets for free will donations. The String Orchestras are supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, US Bank, private donations, and the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. For more information, please call the Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit www.sfmusiccenter.org.
The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls invite the public to attend Holiday Recitals on Friday, December 6—7 p.m., Room 242 and 244; Saturday, December 7—10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Room 242 and 244; Sunday, December 8—1 p.m., Room 242 and 244. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their web site at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
The St. Francis Community Chorale, Little Falls, will present a Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 1, 7 p.m., in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. What a wonderful way to kick off your Advent season with beautiful and inspiring music!
The Chorale will present beautiful Christmas music of various styles. Selections include: Celtic Silent Night; We Three Kings; Mary, Did You Know; Christmas Jazz; The Yearning and many more songs of the season. Also featured will be Brothers in Harmony, a men’s singing group from St. Francis Music Center. This group is under the direction of Kathy Pederson. They will perform: O Holy Night; Little Drummer Boy; Carol of the Bells and more.
The St. Francis Community Chorale is the culmination of a dream of St. Francis Music Center to create a community choir open to all teens and adults who love to sing together. The Chorale meets Thursday evenings to rehearse and is open to all. Under the direction of Barb Stumpf, the Chorale has steadily grown and more are welcome to join after the concert. Joan Wingert, piano and vocal teacher at the Music Center, will be conducting the concert. This concert will be dedicated to the memory of Ray Stumpf, husband of our beloved director Barb Stumpf, with a special performance of Coming Home. The concert is free and open to the public.
The St. Francis Community Chorale is sponsored by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. For more information, please call St. Francis Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, has several free opportunities available for adults who love to sing. No auditions are necessary to participate in any of the choirs.
The St. Francis Community Chorale meets Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. starting on September 12. The chorale sings a wide variety of music from classical to sacred to Broadway and pop. This fall they will be working on music for a Christmas Concert.
Sestri, a Women’s Slavic Choir, meets on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. This group is open to teen-aged and adult women with an interest in Slavic folk music. No prior knowledge is needed. Sestri begins rehearsals on September 8.
Brothers in Harmony is a men’s singing group open to teen-aged and adult men. The group meets on Monday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m., starting on September 9.
If you enjoy singing and want to meet others, please come. All of the above groups are free, thanks to the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Five Wings Regional Arts Council. None of the groups require auditions; feel free to show up at rehearsals.
For more information, please call St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters in Little Falls.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, offers percussion lessons for all levels of students, from beginners to advanced, and all styles of drums. John Tetrault has joined the Music Center faculty and is available to teach percussion including the trap set.
John has studied percussion with Bruce Pederson, Gene Koshinski at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Dr. Terry Vermillion at St. Cloud State University. He currently drums with The Sweet Papa Dave Band, a blues band out of St. Cloud. John has taught percussion privately on and off for about seven years. John also has years of experience playing with several area bands. He is available to teach on Mondays.
St. Francis Music Center does not require that students take piano lessons prior to percussion lessons. For more information on percussion lessons, please contact the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Everyone is welcome at the Music Center and financial aid is available. St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, located on St. Francis Campus in Little Falls.
Teri Mick is the new gymnastics coach at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls. Originally from Willmar, Teri competed for six years in the Midwest Amateur Gymnastics Association. She has taught all ages groups from 18 months through middle school and has served as the head gymnastics coach at the Little Falls Middle School. Teri also has a strong musical education background and taught at the Music Center in the past, taking a break to raise her family.
Gymnastics classes will meet on Monday evenings beginning September 23. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate for each age group so students have fun while developing grace and coordination. There are classes for ages 4 and up.
There are also openings in dance classes for ages 3 and up. Dance classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
For more information, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Financial aid is available. St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, located on St. Francis Campus in Little Falls.
Several new teachers have joined the faculty at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls. They will join the existing faculty at the Music Center to offer excellent opportunities for all ages to study music.
Bobbi French has a B.A. in music education from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S. Dak. She has studied and performed on violin, voice and piano since her youth and has over 30 years of experience as a private teacher on both instruments as well as experience conducting church and community choirs. Most recently she lived in East Central Minnesota where, in addition to her private studio work, she served as the music director for annual school/community musicals. Bobbi’s goal is to teach students of all ages and ability levels to appreciate and create beauty in the world through music. Whether or not music becomes a life-long pursuit, she firmly believes that early exposure to music makes for more respectful and responsible citizens of our world—people who are more sensitive to others and more attuned to wonder and beauty all around us. Bobbi is available to teach both violin and piano. Her lessons emphasize music theory, instrument technique, note-reading and sight-reading, ear training and musical expression.
John Tetrault has studied percussion with Bruce Pederson, Gene Koshinski at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Dr. Terry Vermillion at St. Cloud State University. He currently drums with The Sweet Papa Dave Band, a blues band out of St. Cloud. John has taught percussion privately on and off for about 7 years. John also has years of experience playing with several area bands. He is available Mondays to teach drum set, bass guita, and piano.
Pamela Wolters, M.A., is a specialist in theory and composition. She is available to teach voice, guitar, piano, band instruments, theory and composition. She also teaches K-6 music at the Swanville Public Schools. She also served as Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church, Brookings, S. Dak.
Jordan Wilenski started playing guitar at the age of 12 under Greg Langlois. In his studies he spent time learning the theory behind playing and teaching techniques. Jordan’s goal is to get into the music industry, so he dedicates hours to his craft. Jordan comes highly recommended because of his knowledge, experience and dedication. Jordan is available to teach guitar.
Now is the time to sign up for fall lessons at St. Francis Music Center! Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello, bass and voice. All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome. For more information, or to sign up for lessons, call the Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at: www.sfmusiccenter.org. Financial aid is available.
Little Falls, Minn. – Inspiration and creative stimulation are not unusual at St. Francis Convent where the arts are valued. Adult mentors might be considered commonplace in a religious organization like the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. On a typical day, music streams through the halls when the organist practices in Sacred Heart Chapel and when students at St. Francis Music Center show instructors the results of last week’s practice.
What is unusual is the patience and commitment the Franciscan Sisters have for those who wish to be in a rock band. Guitars, bass, keyboard and drums. Volume. Energy. Purpose.
Robyn Gray, director of the Music Center, sports a shirt with Sforzando emblazoned across the front. That partially describes URock, a two-week summer music camp for young people who have always dreamed of being in a band.
URock, now in its seventh year, is also a chance for youth aged 10+ to fulfill the dream. Gray said, “Participants learn so much more than playing music. They learn to listen to one another, play together, create harmony, build friendships, interact socially, think critically, communicate, gain self-confidence and learn the power of teamwork. They belong.”
The program draws students who do not normally participate in extracurricular activities or band and choir. “URock inspires youth to make right choices and to influence others to do so as well,” Gray added.
“For many, music is the answer,” said Greg Langlois who teaches guitar, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin and recording using Pro Tools. “I enjoy all types of music from blues to Bach and my passion is music and working with students. These kids are our future and it's them we serve at this camp.”
The program is “rigorous and demanding,” Langlois said. “Each band picks three songs to master, they learn to ‘jam’ together where they listen closely and keep rhythm and they have intensive instruction – in the full group of URock participants, in each band and as individual performers.”
Their work culminates in a final concert before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the Green Fair Folk Festival, set this year for Wednesday, Aug. 7, on the west lawn of St. Francis Convent. Last year, a sister told a performer that she “should be on America’s Got Talent” to which the student replied, “My parents wouldn’t let me … this year.”
A few seasons ago, a student’s mother said that her son was at a crossroads between taking a path to a good life or following his friends into a lot of bad choices and decisions, Gray recalled. “She said that URock pushed him so far down the right path that he realized he had a lot to give to the world and went on to college, a choice she never thought he would make."
As a result of URock’s success, Gray and Langlois received a grant from Catholic Health Initiatives, a granting group that focuses on non-violence, to create a year-round program that will train teens on instruments and help them form bands. The grant will help to provide instruments and lessons for those who can’t afford them and will focus on weekly jam sessions. Teens will mentor each other as the program grows. “Music in itself promotes non-violence. Music gives teens a way to express themselves, to feel as if they are being heard. It is also all about harmony and playing well together,” added Gray. “For teens who think there’s nothing to do in rural Minnesota, URock might be a fantastic answer.”
In the hallway of St. Francis Music Center is a poster that says, “If you think nobody cares, think again.” The Franciscan Sisters may wince, then smile, in the evening hours when they hear the volume coming from the second floor but they open their doors in welcome to the students whose lives may be encouraged.
Opened in 1979, the Music Center is home to 18 committed instructors with high levels of expertise who provide lessons to over 325 students to study piano, guitar, strings, voice, percussion, theory and composition, dance and gymnastics. In addition, the Music Center offers two string orchestras, a community choir and other choral groups.
Financial aid is available for those families who would not otherwise be able to participate in the programs. URock is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls with financial support from the Five Wings Arts Council.
This July and August St. Francis Music Center is offering URock Summer Camp for middle and high school students. Guitarists, drummers, bassists, vocals, keyboards and other musicians who want to form a band are all invited to attend. You don’t need a lot of experience on your instrument, just some of the basics.
URock starts at 5 p.m. on July 26 at St. Francis Music Center. The instructors will get to know the students and their abilities and talk them through what it takes to be in a band. The next morning the group will be divided up into bands and the fun begins! Each band will pick a name and songs they’d like to play. The rest of the camp is spent learning the music, performance tips, band pictures and getting ready to perform.
URock will meet July 26 from 5-8 p.m., July 27-28 and August 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The times will be flexible depending on what works best for each band. Led by Greg Langlois, the instructors will all be musicians with experience in professional bands. The final concert will be outdoors on August 7 as part of the St. Francis Green Fair Folk Festival. The concert will be free and open to the public.
This year the Music Center will also make up a band of 4th and 5th graders who have experience playing instruments or are vocalists. Financial aid is available for all who need it.
For more information or to sign up, call the Music Center at (320)632-0637, stop in at 116 8th Avenue SE in Little Falls or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota.
Now is the time to sign up for summer lessons! Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello, bass, percussion and voice. All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome.
Lessons are open to all and offer a wide variety of programs for all ages. Summer lessons begin June 10 - August 10.
To encourage new viola players, the Music Center will offer free viola rental for a year to students who sign up for lessons. String players are invited to participate in two orchestras.
There will also be gymnastics classes for ages 3 and older. Classes will be offered on Wednesdays. Private gymnastics coaching is also available.
This summer we will also offer our very popular U Rock Summer Camp for middle and high school students who want to be in a band. Students will be divided into bands and perform together in a final concert. UROCK begins on July 26.
Finally, the Franciscan Green Fair Folk Festival will be outdoors on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters on August 7. Along with green vendors, great food and lots of family fun will be art activities for the kids and great music on the stage all evening. The Green Fair Folk Festival is free and open to all!
Lots of excitement is going on at St. Francis Music Center this summer! For more information or to sign up for lessons call us at (320)632-0637. Financial aid is available.
Our 31stannual Keyboard Festival was held on April 26-27. Piano students of all ages and abilities from throughout central Minnesota were invited to prepare a piece for the festival and 95 students signed up to participate. Each student had a first round private audition with a judge, well-prepared students were then passed on to a second round audition. After the second round, the top scoring students were invited to play in an Honors Concert.
The students chosen to play in the Honors Concert were: Bridget Catton, Brooke Catton, and James Gutierrez from St. Cloud; Sage Kortuem, Lily Puck, Silas Winrod, and Emeryson Hudalla from Long Prairie; Camryn Schmidt from Brainerd; Christopher Borash from Bowlus; Andrea Shaefer from Pierz; Jeff Erickson and Maggie Erickson from Sebeka; Collin Prom from Swanville; Elijah Rick, Annika Rick, and Quinn Rick from Browerville; and Ava Filippi, Hudson Filippi, Mason Wickstrom, Julia Vetsch, Michael Hanowski, Abigail Borash, Michael Vetsch, Abby Poser, Laura Verkuilen, Megan Borash, Kalli Sobania, and Elizabeth Becker, all from Little Falls.
All of the students who participated did an excellent job and thus demonstrated a bright future for music in central Minnesota!
The Keyboard Festival is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts, located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters in Little Falls. The center is open to the public and offers music lessons on all instruments. For more information, please call (320)632-0637