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‘Best of the West’ music festival at Colorado Mesa University

This is the 20th year this festival has been held.
Best of the West Music Festival at Colorado Mesa University
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 11:29 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 11:31 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - High school students from around the country team up with CMU students each year to put on the annual ‘Best of the West’ three day music festival. Plus, this is the 20th year this festival has been held, which is quite the milestone.

The ‘Best of the West’ festival is held the same weekend every year and continues to grow. Organizers say its well known throughout the state and has gained a lot of support around the community.

One thing that makes this festival so unique is that the CMU students run it. High school students are invited after being nominated by their school band director and then going through an audition process for placement.

“This is a good opportunity for especially music education to learn what it takes to run a festival and run these concerts and prepare things for their future,” said CMU Senior music education major Trystan Berg. “Especially when they move into that music room or classroom in the next few years. It is hands on experience that we are learning straight from the source which is great. It is all on us music educators to get the logistics down, to make sure students are in and out. To make sure things are set up before students arrive and make sure equipment is ready to go and everything.”

CMU students play Friday and the high school students play Saturday. Its a ‘select band’ festival which is geared towards wind and percussion instruments. Trystan Berg hopes to soon teach at a high school or middle school here in the Grand Valley.

“I knew I wanted to be a music educator since the day I stepped into my 6th grade band class back in 2011,” said Berg. “I knew it was something for me, I knew music was my passion, my parents met in music. So to be able to continue with music into college and make that my career and profession its just a dream come true. Especially as I’m now a senior and about to wrap up next semester and going into my student teaching next fall. Its getting closer and closer and I’m so excited. And this festival especially is a great reminder of why I want to be an educator. Its because of these students and what they have and what they can bring and how I can influence them in the future.”

Guest artists and conductors are flown in for the festival to work with the students and then play a recital on the first day, making it a one of a kind experience.

“The kind of music that they get to perform is probably at a higher level than they get to perform in most other venues,” said CMU Director of Bands Jonathan Hinkle. “The audience in which they get to perform for or who is conducting the ensemble are absolutely things that are gonna help them with a performance career or as music educators.”

If you still want to catch the festival on day three, the high school students will be playing a free concert at 3p.m. open to the public Saturday at Robinson Theatre inside the Moss Performing Arts Center.

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