FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WAUNAKEE, Wis. (April 21, 2021) – Thousands of music students who prepared to perform vocal and instrumental solos and ensembles are participating in the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival — an alternative experience the non-profit organization developed and launched for youth statewide amidst the pandemic “social distancing” restrictions.
“Our team has worked vigorously to adapt the traditional WSMA Solo & Ensemble experience to a virtual environment in order to give music students the opportunity to perform for feedback from adjudicators through the special video submission app. For many students, this has been their most prominent music education experience of the current school year, offering a familiar event when other opportunities to perform may not have been possible,” said WSMA Executive Director Laurie Fellenz.
The WSMA Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival recently reached a milestone of 16,000+ entries, making it the largest known virtual festival of its kind in the United States. This total represents participation from all geographic areas and school sizes in Wisconsin. Students from bordering states of Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan also participated in the timely offering. More than 275 WSMA certified adjudicators, many of whom are active Wisconsin music educators, evaluated the video submissions, provided feedback, and also a rating if desired. Students were able to upload their performance video and receive evaluation/comments all through the WSMA Festival App, specially developed in 2020 for the WSMA Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival. This experience was also made possible by music publishers generously granting permission for digital use of selections on the WSMA Festival Music List, in order to comply with copyright laws.
The WSMA Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival opened in November with Cycle A district level and concluded its first phase with a Cycle A state level ending in January. Cycle B offered a second district level phase beginning in March with a Cycle B state level beginning in April and open until early May when the event officially ends for the school year.
Students must earn a “starred first” rating in Class A (which consists of the most difficult music) at the district level to qualify for state level of the WSMA Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival. The participants, in grades 6-12, can choose from a variety of instrumental and vocal solo and ensemble categories for their performances in district festivals throughout the state. In a typical year, WSMA has held over 225 such events, involving more participants than any other student activity.
“Despite today’s challenges, we are as committed as ever to the WSMA mission to ensure students have opportunities that encourage lifelong involvement in music, provide statewide music programming activities, offer leadership and support for school music programs, and advance music as an integral part of the school curriculum and community life. The WSMA Virtual Solo & Ensemble Festival is an example of our unwavering commitment to this mission,” said Fellenz.
WSMA continues to receive national recognition as a leader among state music associations. Learn more about WSMA and how its mission is carried out, by going to wsmamusic.org.
Founded in 1932, Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is a non-profit service organization with more than 1,000 member public and private schools. Students from member schools are eligible to participate in WSMA programs, such as District and State Music Festivals, Concert Festivals, State Honors Music Project, State Marching Band Championships, Student Composition Project and WSMA Aca U. WSMA is governed by a board of directors made up of superintendents, principals and other officers from all over the state. WSMA believes music is a basic human need and that all children have the right to experience all that music offers them.