“Do we have an appropriate piece?” Wadena-Deer Creek junior Johanna Brunsberg and private flute instructor Lisa Winter wondered as they worked to enter the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra concerto competition. It turns out, Brunsberg had a dream piece and the ability to back up the concerto performance that won her third place.

Alongside accompanist Amelia Crossen, Brunsberg recorded the piece at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Wadena for the online submission. She played Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino, an 8 minute piece that is popular for flutists and one Brunsberg has loved since the seventh grade. A concerto is a piece that has soloistic material that the orchestra accompanies, as Winter described.

“I’ve always liked music and performing, and especially with COVID I have not had opportunities to just perform locally or in any sort of honor band, region, no contests, not church but this contest … I’m so thankful for it because it was virtual and I wasn’t expecting anything out of it,” Brunsberg said.

Brunsberg had played the piece last summer but not with the level of perfection that was required for the competition, including memorizing the piece. Winter also played the piece in college and said “but I didn’t play it as well as she.” The contest’s winners usually play with the orchestra, though the virtual competition due to the pandemic means the recordings are shared online.

“I’m sad that she can’t play with an orchestra but they’ll be things in the future for sure,” Winter said.

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Already in her music career, Brunsberg has earned a perfect score for a 2021 flute solo, participated in the Minnesota Music Educators Association all-state concert virtual recording, been selected three times for the Minnesota Band Directors' Association State Honor Band and received the Best in Site Award at the 2019 subsection solo and ensemble contest. She started playing the flute in fifth grade and has been doing private lessons for five years.

“It’s a big deal,” Winter said about the concerto competition. “It’s quite a wide geographical area so she beat out people from quite a large area. We’re just a small town, we don’t have access to a university or anything here so that was kind of affirming.”

Brunsberg said the honor will also help her as she begins preparing for her senior recital this next school year. She enjoys playing any type of music but especially pieces from the Baroque period, hymns and piano duets.

While sharing music virtually and earning the third place honor brought a “sense of renewal,” Brunsberg is looking forward to more times of gathering and performing music with and for the community.

“Music is what the words can’t describe,” Brunsberg said. “Music was never audio recordings like I’m submitting now, but music is where people used to come and gather, you know back in the day. And so I still like that feeling of a live performance and hearing those good songs and getting together with other musicians to play for people, and it’s just a happy feeling.”

Performing their flute duet for the 2020 Empty Stocking Program are Lisa Winter (left) and Johanna Brunsberg.
Photo courtesy Kent Runge
Performing their flute duet for the 2020 Empty Stocking Program are Lisa Winter (left) and Johanna Brunsberg. Photo courtesy Kent Runge

For all people, the musical tunes are all throughout life whether on the radio or in the feeling of joy and hope as musicians share.

“I would encourage people to pick up their instruments if they haven’t in awhile,” Brunsberg said. “I think a lot of people have a deep admiration for music but they just don’t act on it. You’re never too young or too old or inexperienced ... to pick up music and try to find some joy in it because it’s really nice, and it’s good for you.”