Joseph Schlefke and Aaron Larson aren't a whole lot older than some of the Central Lakes College students who eagerly soaked up what they said recently in music classes on the Brainerd campus.
Schlefke, 30, is the conductor of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra, the central Minnesota musical ensemble that has gone through several leadership changes in recent years. He also conducts three other orchestras.
Michelle Sakry, CLC vocal music instructor, said the local orchestra has never sounded better under Schlefke's direction.
"He has the musicians playing music that is not way over their heads nor too far beneath them to be challenging," she told her students while introducing the maestro. She has been a member of the HSO board of directors for several years and witnessed various conducting styles.
Schlefke spoke to the music appreciation class at CLC.
Larson, baritone, had the voice training class as an inquisitive audience while he spoke of his devotion to opera and other musical styles, including rap that he enjoys while traveling in a car. The 20-something Minnesotan was the recent soloist featured with Heartland Symphony Orchestra concerts in Little Falls and Brainerd.
Larson expressed the belief that quality, inspiring instructors can ignite the flame for aspiring vocalists.
"I had some excellent motivation, including one particular instructor whose genius just fueled my passion, my obsession for vocal performance," he told the CLC students. He closed his 50-minute visit by singing two favorite arias.
Guest performers for CLC music students are made possible through funding from the Linda Dryden Memorial Fund coordinated through the CLC Foundation. In November, Broadway performer Linda Eder returns to her hometown and the college she attended before finding a career. She will be a guest of music students Nov. 21, two days after she gives a homecoming concert as a fund-raiser for the scholarship program at CLC.
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