Thousands of dedicated middle and high school student musicians from across the state will participate in the Wisconsin School Music Association State Solo & Ensemble Festival beginning Saturday.
Ten university campuses, including UW–Platteville, will host performances by more than 32,000 students, making this event one of the largest of its kind in the nation.
UW–Platteville, UW–Milwaukee, UW–Oshkosh and UW–Whitewater will hold festivals Saturday, April 27. Cardinal Stritch University in Mequon, UW–Eau Claire, UW–Green Bay, UW–La Crosse, UW–Parkside in Kenosha and UW–Stevens Point will host festivals Saturday, May 4. Solo & Ensemble Festivals are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
All events are open to the public and free of charge.
Students must earn a “starred first” rating in Class A (which consists of the most difficult music) at a WSMA District Music Festival to qualify for WSMA State Music Festivals. The participants, in sixth through 12th grades, can choose from a variety of instrumental and vocal solo and ensemble categories for their performances in district festivals throughout the state. Over the past six months, WSMA has held more than 225 such events, involving more participants than any other student activity.
UW–Platteville will host the State Music Festival for the 24th year, with Prof. G. Daniel Fairchild the festival manager.
Fairchild’s wife, Nancy, instrumental music teacher at Platteville High School, is in charge of organizing the volunteer workers for the day. UWP students and alumni, Platteville High School students, and parents of high school students all step forward to volunteer their time. It takes about 75 volunteers to serve as room and door monitors for the day.
Sara Koeller, the Fairchilds’ oldest daughter, has also worked in the festival headquarters since seventh grade — the first year that Platteville hosted the event — and is now in charge of inputting the official results into the WSMA Festival Program. Koeller’s stepdaughter, Michelle, helps sort rubric forms in the main office and accompanies the runners.
Son Mark Fairchild has probably accumulated several hundred miles “running” between festival sites to collect results from the adjudicators and return them to the office for verification. Every half hour, the unofficial results are posted outside Festival Headquarters in Doudna Hall for students to see how their performances fared for the day. Daughter Lara Fairchild helps certify, sort, and check off each schools’ events.
More than a thousand pieces of music will have been played or sung by soloists and ensembles and adjudicated that day, and there will have been cheers and tears. The volunteers will spend another hour or so tidying up, moving pianos back to their homes and resetting classrooms. The Fairchild family will spend additional time putting the festival to bed for another year and making sure that when the college students return to campus on Monday there will be no sign of the amazing music that reverberated throughout the hallways the previous weekend — until next year.
“Wisconsin music students continue to excel in their level of achievement and dedication to excellence,” said WSMA Executive Director Tim Schaid. “The WSMA State Music Festival provides a quality opportunity for them to share the talents and skills developed in the classroom while creating a lifelong memory through their state festival performance.”