Music Department

Kids from Wisconsin

Kids from Wisconsin comes to campus. The group of talented, young musicians from across the state includes two UW-L students. From left to right, Cody Christian, UW-Eau Claire student; Lucas Henderson, UW-L student; Jason Meinhardt, UW-L student; Jesse Martin, McNally Smith student.

Kids from Wisconsin comes to campus: Show features two UW-L students.

The lights dim. A singer with his back to the audience and two keyboard players are under the stage lights. The electric pianos hit a G major — the first chord in “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.

“I’m feeling chills and excitement,” says Lucas Henderson, who stands silent with his drum set. “The adrenaline is pumping and I just want to get going.”

From that moment on Kids from Wisconsin doesn’t stop. The musical ensemble featuring some of the state’s most talented musicians packs in a high-energy show with medleys from the The Beatles to Shrek. The show premiered June 26 and came to life Saturday, July 9, at UW-La Crosse.

The crew of 33 musicians and dancers, ages 15 to 20, includes two UW-L students, Henderson, a sophomore music education major, and Jason Meinhardt, a senior biomedical science major and music minor.

“When it’s a hometown show, we have a ton of friends yelling for us,” says Meinhardt who marks his second year with the ensemble. “It’s such a blast to have other UW-L student there.”

Both say playing with Kids from Wisconsin is intense. To prepare for their 65 performances across Wisconsin this summer, they rehearsed 12-hour days during 17 days of band camp. They’ve learned to maneuver through quick musical and thematic changes — in one medley alone they tackle polka, rock, swing, Caribbean and Latin-style music.

Henderson, who wants to one day teach music, says UW-L has prepared him well for Kids from Wisconsin. Being a member of UW-L’s jazz ensemble and Karyn Quinn, a senior lecturer in UW-L’s Music Department, helped Henderson learn everything from musicality to playing with a group.

“As a freshman I learned how to perform under pressure — for big crowds and for a grade,” says Henderson. “Over the years, I’ve gotten more confident in the way I play.”

UW-L Music Department:

The UW-L Music Department offers a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in performance, music history, music theory/composition, jazz performance, piano pedagogy or music theatre. They also offer a degree in music education with an emphasis in choral music, general music or instrumental music. Students can also declare a music minor. The department serves over 100 undergraduate majors and many more music lovers.

History of Kids from Wisconsin:

The Kids from Wisconsin group was conceived and developed in 1969 by the Wisconsin State Fair Board to show the nation the best face of Wisconsin’s youth following the turbulence of the ’60s. More than 400 young entertainers were auditioned, and 60 achieved positions in the first edition of the Kids from Wisconsin. Since, nearly 700 young artists have participated in the program with many going on to excel as performers, music educators, college professors, entertainers, choreographers and top professionals in a wide variety of fields.
Today, the Kids from Wisconsin ensemble performs at county fairs, festivals and conventions throughout the continent. The musical revue has helped raise thousands of dollars for worthy charitable organizations. The Kids from Wisconsin group maintains a demanding schedule each summer, performing 65 to 70 shows during the months of June, July and August. For more information see www.kidsfromwisconsin.org.

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