An annual showcase for high school musicians is an opportunity to build awareness of your station, engage with your audience to help create content and support local school-age talent. This guide was developed by YourClassical MPR and is available to APM affiliates through their affiliation fee.
The showcase provides a way to engage with new and existing audiences, with many features that can be utilized to customize the experience to suit your needs. This resource guide aims to provide a framework for building your own youth-focused performance event. Each expression will be unique, and we hope this guide is helpful and expands your understanding of what might be possible.
“At the composer mentorship workshop day last winter for Minnesota Varsity 2014, I was baffled by how freely we composers, we high school composers, could discuss one another’s works in a shared quest for betterment. With Minnesota Varsity, collaboration overshadows competition.”
– Austin Kraft, 2013 Showcase Composer, 2014 Featured Composer
“I was able to share the stage and radio waves with some of the brightest young artists in the region. I continue to be humbled, encouraged and emboldened by this experience at every step of my musical journey, as it was one of the most musically and personally significant honors I have received.”
– Sarrah Bushara, 2014 & 2015 Showcase Artist
“Having the opportunity to share my music and engage in discussions about it with such a wide audience, especially as only a high school senior, was a breathtaking experience I will forever cherish.”
– Evren Ozel, 2013 Showcase Artist
The concept for Classical MPR’s annual showcase for high school musicians originated at the same time that reality TV talent competitions rose in popularity. As planning for the showcase developed, values that are common across the public media system were incorporated into a program that emphasizes the strengths of multiple participants rather than identifying one “winner” as the goal. Hence the designation “showcase” and “artists” rather than “competition” (or “contest”) and “winner.” In fact, the contest model itself is entirely optional. Rather than selecting artists independently, for example, it is possible to have a program based on teachers’ recommendations. At Classical MPR, the project is called Minnesota Varsity, and we have two judged rounds culminating with final showcase performances that have included between eight and twelve performers.
The showcase for young musicians seeks to provide a platform in an artform often out-represented by sports, technology and popular music among high school–aged Americans: classical music. Producing the annual showcase should align with and enhance much of the work of your organization. It is a tool that:
- Engages existing and new audiences around content we know better than anyone
- Communicates and publicizes classical music’s appeal to younger, more diverse audiences
- Develops future audiences for classical music and its media outlets, including members
- Provides an attractive opportunity for donor participation
- Appeals to parents and other caregivers of young classical artists, whether or not they are themselves fans of classical music
- Helps cultivate regional pride in young talent who will become future leaders, whether in music or in other areas