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Samantha Kent sings a solo during the performance by Upstage Revolution. She won Best Soloist for the performance. Photo courtesy of Ryan McCoy

Riverside sweeps Totino competition; Upstage places third

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Riverside sweeps Totino competition; Upstage places third
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Another weekend went incredibly well for the Hastings show choirs.

On Saturday at a big competition hosted by Totino-Grace, Hastings brought home all kinds of hardware.


For starters, the three show choirs won the sportsmanship award at the meet.

"That's always nice to hear," director Lin Warren said. "We try to teach the kids what it's like to be a good sport. It's nice to be applauded for that."

Upstage Revolution, which competes in the A division, placed third in their division. They also won a caption award for Best Band, Best Female Soloist (Samantha Kent) and Best Male Soloist (Bryce Brathall). Brathall and Kent won $250 scholarships to the Gustavus Adolphus summer show choir camp.

It was Upstage's final competition of the season.

"They've been working really hard," Warren said. "They've been putting in some long rehearsal hours to fine-tune their show. Their vocals were outstanding. They put some real attention to detail in."

The school's top show choir, Riverside Company, then stole the show. They won grand champion and caption awards for Best Vocals, Best Choreography, Best Band and Best Female Soloist (Rachel Bruch-Andersen).

The band is directed by John Hanson. It's the second time this season the band has won the caption award.

"They're just outstanding players, first of all," Warren said. "John has done a great job of refining. One of the marks of a good band is being able to support the vocalists without covering them up. That's a really difficult thing to do. They've really accomplished that in every way."

Choreography was handled by Stephen Todd.

As for Bruch-Andersen, it was the second time she won the caption award. She sings "Set Fire to the Rain," a song by Adele.

"It's a solo that is perfect for her," Warren said. "She has an outstanding voice, is always in tune and she just has great presence. For a good chunk of it, she's alone on the stage. It's hard to command an entire stage by yourself, but she does."

As for the group's performance and sweep, it's nothing new. They won the title in Waukee, Iowa, and Eau Claire, Wis., too.

"They are fighters," Warren said. "They've had a lot of tough things happen to them this year. It would be so easy for them to say 'We're just going to write this year off.' They just haven't.

"This is something really positive in their lives. They're willing to go after it and make it the best. They're always challenging themselves to be better. It's a real testament to their souls."

Again, the group's ballad drew big praise from judges and fans in attendance.

"They have the most incredible ballad," Warren said. "Everywhere we go, people are raving about it. It's more than great singing. It's one of those intangible things - the song is so meaningful for them. They can dig and sing from the heart."

They now prepare for the national competition in Nashville, Tenn., next month.

The Divaz, a female group of primarily freshmen and sophomores, had its final competition of the season. They didn't place in the prep division.

"They had their best show of the year as well, but it was a tough category - it really was," Warren said. "There were a lot of outstanding prep groups there."

Postseason show

Anyone hoping to see the Hastings show choirs perform one last time here will get the opportunity at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 24.

The choirs will play host to their postseason show. Tickets will go on sale after spring break.

Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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