Each year Hopkins High School Orchestra hosts a Spotlight Concert featuring a special musical guest. Students are gearing up for this year’s February 21 performance alongside the Ericksons.
The eight-year-old sister duo have their musical roots in Minneapolis. Bethany Valentini and Jenny Kapernick bring a stylistic blend of soulful and rich indie-folk. Both are excited to play their music alongside the 65 students in the orchestra.
The orchestra director, Alison Swiggum, contacted the duo last fall. “Spring Concert is often our orchestra students’ favorite concert since they have the opportunity to work with current artists. The music is often quite different than the classical music the orchestra plays,” Swiggum said.
“At Hopkins, we believe in providing music education that spans all music periods and all forms,” Swiggum continued. The school has over 60 percent of students participating in its music program, a rate that’s significantly higher than at most schools in the area.
Both the junior and senior grade levels, designated “Symphony” and “Philharmonic,” will be performing with the Ericksons. In total, the group will play eight of the Ericksons’ songs—most coming from the duo’s 2013 album The Wild—specially arranged for the occasion.
“I’ve also been in contact with Les Walstein, who does all the visual effects for the concert—including my colorful spotlights,” Swiggum said. The concert is designed to have a modern concert atmosphere that contrasts with the typical high school concert.
“Working with a talented passionate director has helped make this happen,” Kapernick said.
“We are thrilled to go on this journey with the high school students. And we’re so thankful they are bringing us along,” wrote Valentini in a post on the Ericksons’ Facebook page. “We sat in on the Hopkins Philharmonic students’ practice today […] I had to look down at my notebook for the first few minutes because I thought I was going to cry. It was so beautiful.”
After eight rehearsals, the sisters have been truly touched by hearing their heartfelt melodies brought to life in such a way. “It was unreal hearing a whole orchestra play our tunes. The arrangements were done by a Hopkins alum, Chris Brusch. He did a fabulous job bringing our songs to life,” said Kapernick.
“He did an amazing job providing us with music arrangements that fit seamlessly with the Ericksons’ vocal and guitar parts,” Swiggum added. “The kids are so great. They’re passionate, inquisitive and very invested in the material.
“This has been a great collaboration between the Hopkins High School Orchestra Program and the Ericksons,” Swiggum continued. “I think the audience members will enjoy the performance!”
The Spotlight Concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21 in the Hopkins High School auditorium. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
The Ericksons visited the Current’s studios to talk with Jill Riley about the Hopkins High collaboration—as well as their appearance at Rock the Cradle on March 2. Listen to their conversation:
Jane Gengel is a student at the College of St. Benedict.