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Fine Arts Student of the Week: Senior enjoys sound and finesse of stringed instruments

Megan Hensel Grade: Senior Age: 17. Art focus: Brainerd High School orchestra. Adviser nomination: "Megan is a senior and viola section leader in our top orchestra at BHS. She is a highly motivated, bright and mature student. Megan has been invol...

Brainerd High School senior Megan Hensel plays the viola Thursday during Chamber Orchestra. Hensel was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week.Jennifer Stockinger / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd High School senior Megan Hensel plays the viola Thursday during Chamber Orchestra. Hensel was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week. Jennifer Stockinger / Brainerd Dispatch

Megan Hensel

Grade: Senior

Age: 17.

Art focus: Brainerd High School orchestra.

Adviser nomination: "Megan is a senior and viola section leader in our top orchestra at BHS. She is a highly motivated, bright and mature student. Megan has been involved in tennis, Interact Club, Music Listening Contest and works at Common Goods. She is reliable and extremely successful; we look forward to hearing of Megan's major achievements in the future."

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Memorable fine arts achievement: Receiving a superior rating in the Minnesota State High School League Solo and Ensemble Contest in February. Hensel performed Dmitri Shostakovich's second movement of his String Quartet No. 8.

Artist most admired: BHS senior Mikaela Maki, who sits next to Hensel in Chamber Orchestra, and they share a music stand. Hensel said, "She is a nice stand partner. She is so calm and she understands the music and she also does other art. She helps me in orchestra.

Other fine arts activities: A Cappella Choir and theater.

Why the viola: "I started playing the viola in sixth grade when orchestra started (in the Brainerd School District.) I wanted to join orchestra, because band and choir is too loud. I picked the viola because my siblings both played the cello and I wanted to be different.

"I mainly enjoy playing the viola because of how expressive the string instruments can be. The string instruments have more finesse and you can interpret/play the sound with how you like it to sound.

"I practice a lot, probably four hours a week."

Biggest challenge in playing: "I started private lessons last year and discovered my fingers are really short to play the viola. That is a struggle. I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I figured I would take private lessons as I was hitting a wall on what I could do by myself to improve. I take lessons from Michael Zellgert, who comes here from St. Cloud."

Do you plan to continue playing the viola after graduation: "I would like to keep playing the viola, but more for fun on the side. I am going to Gustavus Adolphus College and I'm going to join the orchestra there. I feel it would be a good way to make friends in college. My major is undecided."

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Hardest piece to play: "The piece I played for the solo and ensemble contest by Shostakovich. It is really fast, which is why it was hard. It's also my favorite piece to play. We played it in Chamber Orchestra in 10th grade and we played it for a lot of clinicians. Everytime we played it at a clinician, they talked about the piece and we learned more and more about Shostakovich. It is really a sad piece.

"The composer was a Russian who lived under the Soviet Union, but it is thought that he did not like Stalin ... He could not openingly defy Stalin, but he defied him through his music. He was just sad and depressed. The main theme of the piece is he spells out the first few letters of his name in special German notes, so his name is written all over the piece. Music historians say it is his suicide note, but he didn't succeed in killing himself, but that is what it is thought to be. It is an emotional, overloaded piece. The section I played was 2 ½ minutes."

Favorite TV show: "Gossip Girl."

Favorite book: "Gone With the Wind."

Favorite subject: History.

Favorite movie: "Dirty Dancing."

Favorite band: The 1975.

Favorite song: "Don't Think Twice," by Bob Dylan.

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Favorite restaurant: "Does Coco Moon count? I always get the Mongoose, which is chocolate, caramel and banana-flavored coffee."

Other music doings: "I was in the Pit Orchestra for BHS' musical last spring of 'Hello Dolly.'"

Biggest pet peeve: "When you say something you are proud of to someone and they try to up you, by saying they did something better."

Parents: Ron and Beth Hensel of Baxter.

Related Topics: BRAINERD HIGH SCHOOL
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