The Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club is renewing its focus on fostering and rewarding student performing arts talent with the return of one of its premiere events following a five-year hiatus.
The Kiwanis All Valley Talent Show takes place for one night only on April 8 at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium, with some big scholarship bucks on the line for the top-three performers.
The club’s former Stars of Tomorrow talent show went to the wayside after its 50th run in 2016. But longtime Kiwanians Bob Littler and Joe O’Donnell wanted to keep alive the Kiwanis mission to serve youth.
“We still thought this was a very good way that we could contribute, by helping the talented youth of our valley to develop and to recognize them and let them know they’re appreciated,” Littler said.
Instead of the more open format of the former Stars of Tomorrow show, the club worked with local music teachers Shanti Gruber and Lorraine Curry to directly involve the performing arts community and limit the field of contestants to high school students.
Nominations were sought from school-based and private music and performance teachers from Aspen to Parachute, and auditions took place in early March to pare the slate of performers down to 10.
“Our goal was to turn to people who are already committed to good, quality performing arts, and to put on a good show in the end, as well,” Littler said.
The result is a showcase of a wide array of instrumental, vocal and dance talent during the April 8 event. As a bonus, there will be a performance after the intermission by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folkloric ensemble, one of its first public performances since before the pandemic.
The contestants will be competing for the top prize of a $2,000 scholarship, plus a $1,000 scholarship for second and $500 for third.
The show begins at 7 p.m. April 8. Admission is $5 at the door, with a maximum of $20 for a family.
Gruber, who is the music director at GSHS, was a former two-time Stars of Tomorrow winner as a solo pianist and placed as part of a piano duet while growing up in Glenwood Springs.
“It was such a wonderful experience to be a part of and a chance for me to practice performing in front of a large audience … and, of course, the scholarship really helped me, as well,” Gruber said. “For some of my seniors who auditioned and made it in, that’s a big chunk of money to send them on their way to college.”
Her own experience with Stars of Tomorrow also made her want to give back to other young music students when she became a teacher.
“So, I was happy to be able to jump on this team to help it come back,” she said.
They ended up with 23 nominees among high school students from Aspen to Parachute, including vocalists, pianists, string instrumentalists, dancers and more.
Professional musicians from the valley, including accomplished jazz pianist Walter Gorra, another Stars of Tomorrow winner, will serve as the judges for the contest.
Several GSHS performance students who’ve worked productions including the recent run of “Freaky Friday,” will be in charge of sound, lights and other technical aspects.
Student Tyler Madden will serve as emcee for the event, with coaching from longtime valley stand-up comedian and radio personality Don Cheney.
The school’s Key Club (Kiwanis for youth) will be selling refreshments at intermission.
“We are very grateful to Glenwood High School for allowing us to use the choir room, the auditorium, the practice rooms and change rooms, as well as the piano and microphones and other equipment,” Littler said. “Without them and the help from Shanti and Lorraine, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
The Kiwanis Club provided the following biographies on two of the All Valley Talent Show performers.
Katelyn Brennan, piano
Piano teacher, Annig Raley
Senior at Glenwood Springs High School.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, moved to Rifle at age 3 and to Glenwood Springs in 2017.
She loves piano and has been playing for 12 to 13 years. Her first teacher was her mother. Piano playing is a release and great relaxation.
Katelyn has been accepted at Colorado State University, University of Southern California and Notre Dame as a chemical engineering major and will likely pursue a minor in political science.
Katelyn is also on the High School Mock Trial team, has played on the varsity girls golf team, and has been involved in GSHS plays and musical productions as both a member of the lighting crew and as the lighting designer.
She enjoys reading and playing piano in her free time.
Dean McMichael, standup bass
Current music teacher, Lindsay Bobyak
Junior at Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale
Born and grew up in Carbondale.
Mother, Betsy, is a fourth grade teacher at Crystal River Elementary School. Father, Malcolm, is CFO at Ascendigo Autism Services.
Fell in love with string music when very young, listening to music at a bluegrass festival. At 5 years old he told his first music teacher, Lorraine Curry, that he wanted to play bass but sadly he was too small. At age 7 he was able to start when Lorraine fitted out a cello with bass strings.
Dean currently plays in the Roaring Fork High School Jazz Band, the Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra, and The Symphony in the Valley.
Dean also dances in the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklorico Dance Ensemble, and is a Boy Scout in the Basalt Troop.
Dean intends to go to college, probably a liberal arts college and is not sure what he will study, but including music and possibly linguistics.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.