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April, 2007 - SMAC in the News

Behind-the-scenes volunteers are integral in putting on festival like Choirs of Note

Cindy Votruba

From making sure there is plenty of bottled water for the choir students this weekend, to making sure the adjudicators are comfortable, to getting the choir risers from the Marshall High School to Southwest Minnesota State University and that everyone from out of town has a place to stay are just a few of the many jobs that have to be done before this weekend's Choirs of Note festival and competition.

Many community members, SMSU officials, students, and Schwan representatives have worked behind the scenes for months on Choirs of Note, figuring out logistics, tending to the needs of choirs and adjudicators and making sure everything will run like a well-oiled machine during Saturday's concert.

Ellen Skramstad is on the Choirs of Note office staff along with Kathy Tjosaas. She said her role as a Choirs of Note board member and education chairwoman of the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council was to find individuals in the Marshall Arts community who are skilled in production of arts events and performances to assist with the Choirs of Note vision.

From her point of view, Skramstad said the Choirs of Note project showcases Marshall as a wonderful place to live and a destination in southwest Minnesota.

“This project promotes Marshall's community pride, Marshall's fine education system, and Marshall's investment in our youth and commitment to giving our youth opportunities unusual in a city Marshall's size,“ Skramstad said. “Choirs of Note utilizes and showcases the Schwan's Performing Arts Center, one of the best theaters in the Midwest and serves as a model for the collaboration of Marshall's educators, businesses, regional organizations, arts groups and media.“

SMSU marketing Professor Mike Rich and the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center are also doing a bit of legwork for the event. Rich said SMAC is filling the holes, so to speak.

“We are analyzing the logistics and determining areas not covered,“ Rich said. “We will be handling the behind-the-scenes activities, such as controlling the movement of choirs during the competition on Friday, moving and setting up the choir risers from Marshall High School to SMSU and returning them for the Saturday performances, handling all the front-of-house activities on Saturday night, ushers, security, will-call ticket window.“

Rich said the crew will also set up the gym at SMSU for the Saturday morning clinic.

“We have two-way radios for our crew to stay in though and communicate with various groups to insure smooth movement of people and equipment,“ Rich said.

SMAC also handled all of the poster and ticket design and developed the packets of information that was sent to the various high schools, Rich said, and Rich's managing director, handled almost all the design work.

Skramstad said the benefits to area businesses in lodging, entertainment and shopping also are a large consideration in this project when 600 high school students and their parents are expected to participate in the two-day event.

“Each of the community leaders involved in the project offer and expertise in different tasks that need to be done in Choirs of Note,“ Skramstad said. “This project also involves SMSU students and Marshall High School students volunteering their time and talents to this project which gives these young people new experiences and skills working with choral dignitaries, administrations corporations and community artists,“ Skramstad said. “The challenge is combining all these tasks into successful event that will grow into one of Minnesota's premier choral events.“

Making sure choirs and the adjudicators are comfortable falls in the hands of several community volunteers.

As one of the event planners/scheduler, one of Judy Pippin's tasks is getting rooms arranged for the choirs and the adjudicators.

During an inaugural event organizers have to think of everything, Pippin said.

“It will get easier every year,“ Pippin said.

Choir robes for the Dawson/Boyd High School choir were located in the SMSU drama department. Tjosaas recently called Dawson/Boyd choir director Melanie Benson to let her know the robes are available. Tjosaas said that when the Choirs of Note all comes together, it's really exciting. But now it's time for “all little things“ to get completed, Tjosaas said.

Helen Pedersen has a team of four SMSU concert choir students helping her out.

“We're taking care of the clinician and Dr. Warland,“ Pedersen said.

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