Michigan Youth Arts Festival Rundown

The Michigan Youth Arts Festival in Kalamazoo ran its course from May 9th-11th. This is its 57th year and everyone who attended couldn’t have made it a better one.  Over 1,000 students attended from grades 9 to 12. They are elected by their teachers, coordinators, or instructer on behalf of their outstanding work and effort within the fine arts community.

The majority of students stayed on the Western Michigan University campus in the dorms they offered. The students from Lake Shore and Colleen Tharme, creative writing and English teacher, stayed in Hadley and Shilling Hall.

On the first day, students attended a show where they got to see a performance of state-renowned choirs, ensembles, dances, and more. Then, a special performance for the creative writing discipline was shown. Pieces were read, skits were put on, and there was also some singing.

Ceilene Roberts, Lake Shore 2019 graduate, got to read her piece that was picked by the board members of MYAF on Thursday. Roberts states, “I honestly felt shocked! I didn’t think my piece was enough to get picked. After I found out how it was such a big deal to read it in front of everyone, I felt honored.”

Like many other of the first-time students, Roberts wasn’t sure to prepare for. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect from MYAF and kind of went in blindly. I just knew to expect lots of socializing,” Roberts adds with a laugh.

Roberts concludes, “My favorite part was meeting new people and making new friends! I loved how everyone was so nice and inviting. It was so nice to feel apart of something and to feel special for our different talents. I would totally recommend this festival!”

On the second day, students attended their first writing workshop. The workshop this year was done with Joseph Zettelmaier, a playwright from Michigan that has built his credibility over the years.  They spent three hour sessions with him, learning about the important aspects of writing a play. Over the course of the sessions they wrote a ten minute play in groups.

On Friday, the students also got to see the Gala Concert. This consisted of amazing soloists from Michigan, including pianists, choirs, orchestras, singers, percussionists, and more.

On Saturday (the last day of MYAF), students finished up their last session with Zettelmaier and presented their skits in front of their peers and teachers. It was incredible to see how much people could come up with in such little time. They put their minds together to create something wonderful for everyone to see and remember.

Noah Tances, senior at Lake Shore, was one of the three students from our school that attended. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since it was my first time,” confesses Tances.

Tances’ piece that got picked was an ode to Johnny Cash and Freddie Mercury. “Basically it ended up as a bunch of references to events in their life and songs,” explains Tances.

This festival was an incredible experience for students wanting to branch out in the arts community, show off their work, meet new friends, and learn some amazing new skills and things in the process. Fine arts definitely needs more recognition, and the Michigan Youth Arts Festival does just that.