Friday, April 4, 2008

Wood River students head to finals

Scholarship competition will end Saturday

Express Staff Writer

    The Wood River High School Performing Arts Academy and music program will be represented by two Blaine County students at the first Danny Marona Performing Arts Scholarship finals. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Auditorium in Twin Falls. Brian Town, of Hailey, will perform on drums backed by the Wood River High School Dixie Band, and Brendon Williams of Sun Valley will play guitar.
    Initiated this past year by Marona, a Twin Falls resident, the arts scholarship is worth $5,000. Until his retirement in 2007, Marona was well known as a lounge act, a comic, a raconteur, a bandleader, a classical musician and a recording artist.
    Highlights of his career include “performing at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, singing as a boy soprano with the San Francisco Opera Company for four years and playing at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City,” he said.
    “Also,” he said, “we were fortunate enough to win Entertainer of the Year 10 years in a row from Nevada magazine. That was special.”
    But Marona wanted to change directions.
    “I don’t miss performing,” he said. “I loved it more than anything besides my wife and kids, but 50 years is enough.”
    That didn’t mean he was abandoning his love of performing arts, however.

    “This is our maiden voyage,” Marona said. “We did exceptionally for our first year. We depend solely on private donations.”
    Now that the sectionals are over Marona is looking forward to the grand finale.
    “Now it’s the best of the best. We’ll have 12 kids competing Saturday night. These kids are unbelievable. We have our own ‘American Idol’ here, only I think it’s better.”
    Each of six South Central Idaho regions had a competition in which students performed in voice, musical instrument, dance or drama before a live audience. The first- and second-place winners from each region will compete in the finals Saturday.
    Tickets are $10 at the door.

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