Press Releases

Classical MPR Announces Featured Round Winners for "Minnesota Varsity"

February 7, 2012

(St. Paul, Minn.)--February 7, 2012--Classical MPR announced today the Featured Artists for "Minnesota Varsity"--a program to showcase the best young Minnesota classical musicians. To participate in Minnesota Varsity, music students ages 14-18 (grades 9th-12th) from around the state were asked to submit a recording of themselves performing.

Classical MPR staff received more than 100 submissions from across the state. From them, 15 were chosen as Featured Artists.

In this phase of the program, the Featured Artists will be matched with a professional recording engineer from MPR to produce a high-quality recording. These recordings will then be broadcast throughout March 2012 on Classical MPR--on air and online.

"We are thrilled that students from around the state sent in their music," said Tim Roesler, senior vice president and general manager, Minnesota Public Radio. "The Featured Round musicians will be treated to a professional recording experience and we can't wait to hear them on Classical MPR."

Minnesota Varsity 2012 Featured Artists:

Sarah Tako, bassoon, Stillwater
Aria Stiles, violin, Apple Valley
Daniel Piering, voice, Plymouth
Osip Nikiforov, piano, Faribault
Briana Moynihan, voice, Red Wing
Jonathan Mattson, piano, Rochester
Aaron Fagerstrom, piano, Thief River Falls
Bryan Duerfeldt, alto recorder, Bloomington
Nora Doyle, cello, Minneapolis
Heather Cornelius, harp, Paynesville
Ellen Christensen, voice, Edina
Simon Blaine-Sauer, piano, Minneapolis
John Belk, cello, Maple Grove
Karen Baumgartner, flute, Roseville
Take 4 (Harris Bernstein, Jason Shu, Ben Eide and Micah Cheng), string quartet, St. Paul

Honorable mention: Alia Gribbon, violin, Duluth

Showcase Artists: Beginning March 12, the general public will be able to choose one of the Showcase Artists from the 15 Featured Artists by participating in the online Audience Vote at Then, a panel of celebrity judges--including Stephen Copes, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concertmaster, Beverly Everett, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra music director, Aaron Humble, tenor with Cantus, and Suzanna Schlesinger Altman, American Composers Forum--will choose four performers to be Showcase Artists. All five Showcase Artists will be asked to perform at MPR's Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on April 29, 2012, for a live theater and radio broadcast--where the audience members will get to vote live for their favorite performer. All five Showcase Artist groups will receive a $1,000 prize, thanks to an anonymous gift from a generous MPR donor.

Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert:
Sunday, April 29, 4 p.m. at MPR's The Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul

The 2012 Minnesota Varsity Showcase will include performances by the five finalists. They will be joined by Twin Cities-based singers (and sisters) Christina Baldwin and Jennifer Baldwin Peden, who have performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Guthrie Theater, VocalEssence and Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

During the event, audience members and radio listeners (via web) will have the chance to participate in the "Encore Vote," with the winner performing the encore at the concert.

Tickets: Admission is free and open to the public but a ticket is required. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Fitzgerald Theater Box Office at 651-290-1200.

TUNE IN: Listen to Featured Artists of Minnesota Varsity on Classical MPR throughout March 2012.

Classical MPR can be heard in the Twin Cities on KSJN 99.5 FM. A complete list of Classical MPR stations can be accessed online: go to, and click on "stations."

Minnesota Varsity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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