Press Releases

Classical Minnesota Public Radio Announces Showcase Artists for "Minnesota Varsity"

April 3, 2012

Showcase Artists to be featured at a concert at The Fitzgerald Theater on April 29

(St. Paul, Minn.)--April 3, 2012--Classical MPR announced today the Showcase Artists for "Minnesota Varsity"--a program celebrating some of 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.

Minnesota Varsity 2012 Showcase Artists:

Simon Blaine-Sauer, piano, Minneapolis
Bryan Duerfeldt, alto recorder, Bloomington
Osip Nikiforov, piano, Faribault
Aria Stiles, violin, Apple Valley (Audience Vote pick)
Sarah Tako, bassoon, Stillwater

Honorable mention: Aaron Fagerstrom, piano, Thief River Falls

Classical MPR staff received more than 100 submissions from across the state. From them, 15 were chosen as Featured Artists. These students received a professional recording session at MPR's studios and their music was broadcast on Classical MPR in March.

In the next phase of the program, a panel of celebrity judges chose four performers to be Showcase Artists--the panel included Stephen Copes, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concertmaster; Beverly Everett, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra music director; Aaron Humble, tenor with Cantus; Judy Sagen, adjunct faculty, University of Minnesota School of Music; and Suzanna Schlesinger Altman, American Composers Forum. The public was also invited to participate in the online Audience Vote at and choose a student to also become a Showcase Artist.

All five Showcase Artists will perform at MPR's Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on April 29, 2012, for a live theater and radio broadcast--where the audience members have the opportunity to participate in the "Encore Vote" with the winner performing again at the end of the show. All five Showcase Artists 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: 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." Listeners can hear the live broadcast of the Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert on Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m.

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

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