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Young Talent on the Stage
An Evening of Fine Arts showcases local talent, benefits Kalispell schools
Wai Mizutani performs | Contributed photo
The Flathead Valley is known for its burgeoning arts scene, with professional theaters and accomplished musicians coming from all corners in the county. But the artistic talent runs deeper still, beginning at a young age and flourishing through experience.

On Feb. 25, a snapshot of that young talent will be on stage for the third annual Evening of Fine Arts, presented by the Kalispell Education Foundation. The evening runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Flathead Valley Community College.

It’s an opportunity to see some of Kalispell’s youth in action, with performances from students from Kalispell Middle School and Glacier and Flathead high schools.

And while the young talent on display is certainly the focus of this event, the audience will also be treated to a performance from master violinist Wai Mizutani to close out the evening.

Mike Kofford, spokesman for the Kalispell Education Foundation, said the foundation felt it was important to include Mizutani as a way of showing the younger performers a success story.

“I really wanted to have someone perform who could show students that you could make it in the arts,” Kofford said.

Mizutani and his wife, Idara, teach an orchestra course at FVCC. He comes to the school with a significant musical resume, as a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He was also a teacher at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York.

As a soloist, Mizutani has performed various orchestras around the world, including the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Korean Symphony Orchestra, the Taipei Sinfonietta in Taiwan, the Puccini Sinfonietta in Italy, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra.

His career has also included performances with industry heavyweights, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Arnold Steinhardt, Glenn Dicterow, Kurt Masur and Zubin Mehta.

“This guy is really incredible,” Kofford said.

Mizutani will end the night’s performances, but the students will provide the kickoff to the evening. Kofford said the lineup includes a few fan favorites from previous years, such as the humorous interpretation duos from the high school speech and debate teams.

Humor is a craft for these students, and they have it down, Kofford said.

“We had them last year and they’re just the highlight of the show,” he said.

Also performing will be Tanner Maroney, a senior at Glacier High School, who has repeatedly taken the top prizes in serious interpretation for the past four years. He will bring his RFK performance, Kofford said, which has received excellent reviews from speech and debate meet judges.

Wai Mizutani | Contributed photo

A cheer squad will be on hand to open the show with a fun dance number, Kofford said, which will include a drummer to get the audience going. The dance troupe includes members from Whitefish as well, Kofford said.

Local youth tap ensemble Feat x Feet will also perform, fresh off a December performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Students from Kalispell Middle School will sing a few tunes from the Disney favorite, “The Little Mermaid,” Kofford said.

Part of the appeal of the evening is the array of talent on stage, Kofford said.

“I think it’s going to be a real unusual eclectic mix,” he said. “It’s really rare that you get to see these kids in one place at one time.”

It’s also a thrill for the performers, he said, because they don’t get to see each other perform on a regular basis either. They often comprise one of the most enthusiastic cheering sections of the evening, he added.

Tickets for An Evening of Fine Arts are $40, but the art show beginning at 5:30 p.m. with pizza in the main hall of the Arts and Technology Building is free. Chef Howard Karp and students from the FVCC culinary program will provide desserts, which are included in the ticket price, and there will be a no-host bar available.

Proceeds from the tickets will benefit students through classroom grants, and will also benefit the FVCC art department. Tickets are available at the Hockaday Museum of Art, both high schools, at the Flathead Education Foundation, or online at www.kalispelleducationfoundation.org.
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