The Kiwanis Club of Glenwood Springs is renewing its focus on promoting and rewarding student performing arts talent with the return of one of its premier events after a five-year hiatus.
The Kiwanis All Valley Talent Show takes place for one night only on April 8 in the auditorium at Glenwood Springs High School, with big scholarships on the line for the top three performers.
The club’s former Stars of Tomorrow talent show was scrapped after its 50th broadcast in 2016. But longtime Kiwanians Bob Littler and Joe O’Donnell wanted to keep the Kiwanis mission of serving young people alive.
“We always thought it was a really good way to contribute, helping the talented young people in our valley to grow, to recognize them and let them know they’re appreciated,” Littler said.
Instead of the more open format of the old Stars of Tomorrow show, the club worked with local music teachers Shanti Gruber and Lorraine Curry to directly engage the performing arts community and limit the field of applicants to high school students.
Nominations were sought from school and private music and performance teachers from Aspen to Parachute, and auditions were held in early March to narrow the list of performers to 10.
“Our goal was to look to people who were already committed to quality performing arts and put on a good show at the end,” Littler said.
The result is a showcase of a wide range of instrumental, vocal and dance talent at the April 8 event. As a bonus, there will be an after-intermission performance by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folkloric ensemble, one of its first public performances since before the pandemic.
Candidates will compete for the first prize of a $2,000 scholarship, plus a $1,000 scholarship for second and $500 for third.
The show starts at 7 p.m. on April 8. Admission is $5 at the door, with a family maximum of $20.
Gruber, who is the musical director of GSHS, was a former two-time Stars of Tomorrow winner as a solo pianist and placed in a piano duo while growing up in Glenwood Springs.
“It was such a wonderful experience to be part of and a chance for me to practice playing in front of a large audience…and of course the scholarship helped me a lot as well,” Gruber said. “For some of my seniors who auditioned and passed, it’s a big buck to send them on their way to college.”
Her own experience with Stars of Tomorrow also inspired her 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 him come back,” she said.
They ended up with 23 nominees from high school students from Aspen to Parachute, including singers, pianists, string players, dancers and more.
Professional musicians from the Valley, including accomplished jazz pianist Walter Gorra, another Stars of Tomorrow winner, will serve as judges for the competition.
Several GSHS performance students who have worked on productions including the recent “Freaky Friday” series will be in charge of sound, lights and other technical aspects.
College student Tyler Madden will serve as emcee for the event, with longtime Valley comedian and radio personality Don Cheney coaching.
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, auditorium, practice rooms and locker rooms, as well as the piano, microphones and other equipment,” Littler said. . “Without them and the help of Shanti and Lorraine, we couldn’t do this.”
Spotlight on artists
The Kiwanis Club has provided the following biographies of 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 when he was 3 and Glenwood Springs in 2017.
She loves the piano and has been playing for 12 to 13 years. His first teacher was his mother. Playing the piano is a release and a great relaxation.
Katelyn was accepted to 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, played on the Varsity Women’s Golf Team and has been involved in GSHS plays and musical productions as a member of the lighting crew and as a lighting designer.
She enjoys reading and playing the piano in her spare time.
Dean McMichael, double bass
Current music teacher, Lindsay Bobyak
Junior at Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale
Born and raised in Carbondale.
Her mother, Betsy, is a fourth grade teacher at Crystal River Elementary School. Her father, Malcolm, is chief financial officer at Ascendigo Autism Services.
Fell in love with string music at a very young age, listening to music at a bluegrass festival. At age 5, he told his first music teacher, Lorraine Curry, that he wanted to play bass but was unfortunately too small. At the age of 7 he was able to start when Lorraine equipped 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 folk dance ensemble and is a scout in the Basalt Troupe.
Dean plans to go to college, probably a liberal arts college and isn’t sure what he will study, but including music and possibly linguistics.
Senior Reporter/Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]