Music Directors Speak on Past Winter Concert


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All choirs collaborating on the opening song for the 2022 Holiday choir concert.

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The music department at Saint Francis High School is always busy preparing for and performing concerts. This past month, the choir and band department were occupied with their holiday concerts which took place in early December.

The process of learning and mastering music takes real commitment. It requires consistency with taking time out of every day to practice, focus to stay on-task and not get distracted. It takes a positive attitude to show up to class every day determined to work and improve technique. Now repeat that for every single piece of music performed by students at SFHS.

“All the groups this year have been doing a really nice job learning their music really quickly, which means that we’ve been able to take all the pieces to a higher level of musicality,” said Josiah Telschow, director of the choir department. “It’s been really fun to play with the music and to make some really good music this trimester.”

Band Director David Bechard is pleased with the way his ensemble’s music has come together. 

“We’re starting to add things like dynamics, and articulations,” said Bechard, “and a different style of the stuff that makes it fun.” 

The music department does not get a lot of time to practice and rehearse together during the school day. Besides setting up, warming up, and packing up, there’s only about 40 minutes of practice time. Add up the total minutes with 2 months to practice before a concert, and that’s only a little over 25 hours of rehearsal time; and half that time for students who are enrolled in both band and choir (due to split schedules).

The rehearsal process may sound intimidating, but those who participate also find it to be one of the best parts of their day.

“I love music because I am able to express myself in a different way than verbal communication,” said Jackie Mansergh, a student currently enrolled in Concert Choir. “Making music and listening to music allows people like myself to be able to connect with the people around me.”

For those who are interested in taking part in the music department, there are multiple groups for both band and choir, depending on their skill level. From auditioned choirs and bands to entry level, all of them participate in the concerts.

“All curricular ensembles are featured, which includes: Troubadours, which is our beginning lower voice ensemble; our Bel Canto singers, which is our beginning upper voice ensemble; the Concert Choir, our varsity mixed group; and our Madrigal Singers, which is our chamber ensemble here,” said Telschow.

Bechard said the concert featured two jazz bands, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and the Wind Ensemble.

Both subjects feature their own extracurriculars as well. The choir department offers their Madrigals class for those who want to take their skills to the next level, combining singing with acting.  The show choir is also offered by Telschow to those who want to excel further, adding dancing into the mix.

The band department also has some options one can choose from. They can be a part of the jazz band, which focuses on an upbeat jazz style. There is also a pep band, which promotes general audience energy for sports occurring at SFHS. A marching band is offered through the band department, which performs multiple times throughout the summer at many local parades in central Minnesota. These are just a few of the countless band opportunities given to students of Bechard.

Telschow said the choir concert went great, and that it was a good night of music making and community building.

“The jazz concert went so well: the jazz bands played really great and it was awesome to have the middle schoolers there to play,” said Bechard. “And then, the concert bands all played really, really well, and it was the best we’ve ever played.”

The music department always has a show the local community looks forward to when a concert comes around. The choir department is next performing at the end of March, which is the spring choir concert. The band department is performing on February 28th before their departure to Ireland, and will be performing again on March 23rd, for their all-district spring band concert.

“To have the 8th graders over to play with the Wind Ensemble was just a real treat,” said Bechard, “and I think our high schoolers set a great example for the middle school.”