This weekend and next offer interesting opportunities to experience some of the area’s most talented young musicians, performing alongside professionals.

Both the Belle City Brassworks and the Racine Symphony Orchestra will present concerts this month that feature the winners of recent youth performance competitions, as well as their own musicians.

The Brassworks’ Johnny Hemkes Memorial Concert will be in the Frances Bedford Concert Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Sunday, April 14, at 3 p.m. And, in addition to the 45-plus member Brassworks Brass Band, it will offer the talents of the first- through third-place winners of the annual Johnny Hemkes Memorial Scholarship Auditions performing their award-winning solos. They are Andrew Mertins of Park High School on trumpet (first place); Katie Warren of Kenosha’s Tremper High School on French horn (second); and Emily Nichols of Horlick High School on euphonium (third).

The Racine Symphony’s April 20 “Laurino Goes Italian” concert will be at First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave. It will feature clarinetist Jonathan Nelson of Waterford Union High School — winner of the RSO’s Young Artists’ Competition — as well as 16 Racine County high school students who were chosen either through audition or by participation in the Young Artists Competitions.

The 7:30 p.m. concert will also offer a free pre-concert program, led by RSO violist Ellen Schmidt, that will highlight the composers featured in the evening performance. Titled “Focus on the Masterworks,” it will be held in the church’s sanctuary from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

Details of each of these concerts — including ticket prices and pieces to be performed — can be found at the organizations’ respective websites: and What you may, or may not, also see there is the scope of these organizations’ devotion to providing learning opportunities for both young musicians and young listeners. The RSO, for example, performs free concerts for hundreds of area fifth-grade students each year, as part of its mission “to enrich, educate and entertain our communities through the power of music.” These, and other, programs provided by area arts organizations for youngsters not only serve as education, but inspiration for us all.

Hoofers and crooners

Ballet isn’t often the topic of conversation here, as there is no professional ballet company in Racine County. Yet, the Milwaukee Ballet’s current production is something I feel everyone — even those of you who aren’t dance fanatics — should know about.

Called Spring Series, this weekend’s production is a diverse collection of three pieces featuring the timeless music and spirit of Sammy Davis Jr.; the tap dancing of internationally acclaimed hoofer Marshall L. Davis Jr.; the life-and-death exploration of a Mozart requiem; and dancing to “a pulsating mix of music from the Vitamin String Quartet, The Avalanches, Yann Tiersen and Wax Tailor.”

If you’ve never been to a ballet — and your only vision of such an event is a slowly dying (if beautiful!) swan — Spring Series may be just the ticket to a newly found appreciation of dance. The choreographers’ names — Darrell Grand Moultrie, Amy Seiwert and Timothy O’Donnell — may not mean much to those outside the dance world. But their work is bound to move anyone.

You can see it at Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts April 11-14. For more about Spring Series (including videos), and other Milwaukee Ballet events, go to

Lee Roberts is the arts and entertainment reporter for The Journal Times. Scene & Heard appears every other Thursday. Lee can be reached at (262) 631-1755, by email at and by mail at 212 Fourth St., Racine, WI 53403.

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