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Mariner spring concert: Good music by great kids

Kelley High School band director Kris Peterson and her music students will be performing an arrangement from Les Miserable as part of their spring concert Monday May 10th. Photo by Jim Erickson1 / 3
Zachary Lewis (l) and Seth Erickson focus on their sheet music as they and their band mates practice for next week’s spring concert. Photo by Jim Erickson.2 / 3
Senior Elizabeth Kuznik plans to study music at the university of Minnesota Duluth next fall. She plays French horn in the Mariner band. Photo by Jim Erickson.3 / 3

The William Kelley High School band room is tucked into the lower level of the building, but it’s not difficult to find.

“Take left, go down the stairs and take a right. You’ll hear ‘em,” directed principal Joe Nicklay. Sure enough, even before the music began, the room was filled with the sound of 25 young musicians assembling instruments, thumbing through music and taking their places on chairs and behind drum kits and keyboards. Band director Kris Peterson, sang their praises as they got settled.

“They went to state in March and got three superior ratings,” she said with a broad smile, “one of the judges said that this was his favorite band to listen to all day.”

On Monday, May 12, at 7p.m., the award winning Mariner band will be taking the stage in WKHS auditorium and demonstrating the musical talent that earned them their high ratings and accolades. There’ll be something to please fans of a variety of musical genres. For example, they’ll be performing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a 70s rock classic composed by legendary Queen front man, Freddie Mercury, and a piece from the acclaimed musical, Les Miserables. The students say they were instrumental in selecting the music for the concert.

“I’m a big fan of Les Mis, so a few classmates and I really pushed for that piece,” said one of the band’s four seniors, pianist Abby Michaels. She has played piano since she was in first grade, but said she’s looking forward to performing choral music when she goes to Gustavus Adolphus College next fall.

“I’m really excited about getting into the choir,” she said, “hopefully I can make it through auditions.”

Elizabeth Kuznik, another senior said she plans to study musical performance at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She plays French horn in the band, but is also a pianist.

“Music is a passion of mine and it always has been,” she said. Meanwhile, she is enjoying her high school music experience.

“We’re playing really good music and we’ve worked really hard,” she said, “the Les Mis piece is difficult, but there are lots of solos for everyone.”

Two other seniors, Chad Smuk, who has been playing percussion for eight years and trombonist Marisa Evenson said that they plan to continue to play music after high school, but have other career goals. Evenson said that she may consider playing in a city band, while Smuk said he’ll likely find a small combo to join.

With the end of the school year and graduation approaching for some, the May 12 concert will represent the culmination of years of musical education, dedication and fun. It’s sure to be a memorable evening – a reason for everyone to buy a ticket, leave the cell phone at home and enjoy an evening of good music performed by great kids.