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Civic Impact

Got a middle-school Mozart or junior-high Callas in the house? Enter the WQED contest

If you've ever sat in a half-empty school auditorium for your kid's band or choir concert, you know that kids playing classical music aren't getting the love their football-playing classmates are receiving.
"Kids who participate in sports get the adulation of their peers all the time," says Joanna Marie, managing director of classical-music radio's WQED-FM, "whereas kids who study instruments and vocal arts don't get that."
That's one of the reasons WQED-FM is reviving its Musical Kids contest to offer recognition and encouragement for young instrumentalists and vocalists. The station is now accepting performance recordings through Feb. 22 to pick a first round of finalists. The finalists will then be invited to make professional video recordings to be posted on the WQED website, where the public will vote for one winner from March 18 through April 10. A panel of judges among local classical music performers and teachers will pick five more winners, and all will perform live on the station's “Performance in Pittsburgh” on May 3 and receive a plaque and prizes at an event at their school.
Reduced school funding for the arts "is another reason we want to step in and help fill the void," Marie says. "It is something we really believe in." Presenting part of the award at each kid's school is a purposeful strategy "so they can show their peers how well they are doing," she adds. The station hopes, she says, to offer the winners "recognition and a great sense of accomplishment and fun."
The contest last ran in the 1990s, in a different form, and has received a grant from the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation to be revived.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Joanna Marie, WQED-FM
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