Reader News: Eight area students participate in statewide honors concert

Students from Willmar, Clara City and Montevideo were selected to perform pieces at the 85th annual Minnesota Music Teachers Association Honors Concert.

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Eight area students participated in the 85th annual Minnesota Music Teachers Association Honors Concert on May 21, 2022, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Back row, from left, instructor Megan Gilles, Hannah Javaherian, Carson Stone, Lilyanne Pauling. Front row, from left, Zoe Gilles, Arianna Gilles, Natalie Jurgenson.
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Eight area piano students performed in the 85th annual Minnesota Music Teachers Association Honors Concert on May 21 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The students selected to perform from Megan Gilles' studio were Lilyanne Pauling of Clara City, and Jovial Martinez, Arianna Gilles, Zoe Gilles, Carson Stone, Natalie Jurgenson and Hannah Javaherian, all of Willmar. Julia Mages of Montevideo, from the studio of Loni Eid of Montevideo, also performed.

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Julia Mages
Submitted photo

Five hundred and fifty young pianists earned the privilege of performance in the concert by winning at the preliminary and final contest rounds, playing selections for their age group taken from the contest list which is published each year. They represent the top 5 to 7% of pianists in the state of Minnesota, each one diligently preparing and memorizing their contest piece, making sure to go beyond just the notes to prepare a musically artistic performance.

The Honors Concert is held yearly as the culmination of the state piano contests, sponsored by the Minnesota Music Teachers Association.

The conductor for the Honors Concert was Dr. Josh Bauder, a Minneapolis-based composer, arranger, typesetter, and music educator. He teaches at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Northwestern in St. Paul.


Several thousand students across the state participate in the preliminary contest held each year at the end of January. The winners of that contest further prepare and perfect their performances for the final contest, held in mid-March at the University of Minnesota Ferguson Hall, Minneapolis. The results of the final contest are mailed to each teacher, along with ensemble assignments for each winner. For the Honors Concert, a new piece is learned and memorized.

The hard work begins with three ensemble rehearsals held at Schmitt Music in Brooklyn Center. Each ensemble uses 20 grand pianos with half of the students assigned the Primo, and half the Secondo parts of the ensembles. The conductor rehearses the ensembles for about 20 minutes of concentrated work each rehearsal date. Finally, the dress rehearsal is held the day of the concert, and the concert takes place at 7 p.m.

The students and the music they performed were:

  • Lilyanne Pauling, 12, a sixth-grader at MACCRAY and Carson Stone, 13, a seventh-grader at New London-Spicer, both performed “Boog-E-Lise” by Minnesota composers Heidi Hansen and Marcia Benson.
  • Jovial Martinez, 11, a fifth-grader at New London-Spicer, performed in the ensemble group for “Festivale,” composed by the Minnesota composer Melody Bober. 
  • Arianna Gilles, 12, a sixth-grader at Willmar Middle School, performed in the ensemble group for “Caribbean Sunshine,” composed by Minnesota composer Wynn-Anne Rossi.
  • Zoe Gilles, 8, a third-grader at Roosevelt Elementary in Willmar, performed “Turkish March” by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged by Dennis Alexander.
  • Natalie Jurgenson, 11, a fifth-grader at Kennedy Elementary in Willmar, performed in the ensemble “Copycat,” by Carol Matz.
  • Hannah Javaherian, 11, a fifth-grader at Community Christian School in Willmar, performed in the ensemble for “Waltz of the Russian Ghosts” by the MMTA Teacher Duet composition winner Fern Davidson. She was able to meet the composer and hear about the composition process, as well as have the composer sign her music.
  • Julia Mages, 13, a homeschooled seventh-grader, performed in the ensemble for “Opening Night” by Kevin Costley.
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