Minnesota Varsity: Showcase Concert

Showcase Musicians and Composers join John Birge onstage at the Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert at the Fitzgerald Theater.Courtney Perry

May 03, 2017

On April 30, Classical MPR's Minnesota Varsity completed its seventh season with the annual Showcase Concert and live broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater, spotlighting the talents of seven top classical musicians from area high schools. Ranging in age from 14 to 17, five Showcase Artists gave rousing performances of works by Chopin, Kodaly, MacDowell, Lalo, and Babajanian, and two Showcase Composers had their brand new pieces premiered.

Hosted by John Birge, the first part of the concert featured pianist Nita Qiu, cellist Nygel Witherspoon, pianist Emma Taggart, cellist Madeline Sheard, and pianist Mina Yuan.

The second part, featuring the young composers, presented the premiere performances of works by Nicholas Christenson and Sam Hanson. Christenson composed The Burnt Offerings (and the Peace Offerings) for cello (Ben Osterhouse) and piano (Carson Rose Schneider). Hanson composed Ironic Contrasts for trumpet (Roque Diaz), cello (Ben Osterhouse), and piano (Carson Rose Schneider).

Get to know these dedicated and delightful young musicians via their Showcase videos, as they talk about their love of music, how their teachers and families have influenced them, and the pieces they chose or wrote for Minnesota Varsity!

Showcase Round Artists

Nita Qiu, 14, Piano (Woodbury)

Nygel Witherspoon, 15, Cello (Minneapolis)

Emma Taggart, 14, Piano (Blaine)

Madeline Sheard, 17, Cello (Maple Grove) – Audience Vote Winner

Mina Yuan, 17, Piano (Maple Grove)

Showcase Round Composers

Nicholas Christenson, 17, (Minneapolis): Proximity for cello and piano

Sam Hanson, 14, (St. Paul): Ironic Contrasts for trumpet, cello, and piano