The High School Music Listening Contest regional event took place on Friday, Jan. 19, at seven regions across Minnesota, Iowa, and Utah. Nearly 90 teams participated in the contest this year, representing 35 different schools, home schools, and private music studios.

Decorah High School had 13 teams of three students each competing at Decorah High School at the Region 5 competition. Organizers said this was the biggest group from any school, and it is the largest number of teams from DHS thus far. This is the fifth year Decorah students have competed in the contest. They are coached by Nicole Cody, a member of the music faculty at the high school.

Ten of Decorah’s 13 teams placed in the top 10 of the competition out of 15 teams participating from four schools. Earning first place with a score of 94/100 were Nora Lesmeister, Mason Myers, and Karmyn Bakken. Two Decorah teams tied for second place with a score of 89/100: Alex McGohan, Elizabeth Pritchard, and Jensen Korsness; and Aidan Nalean-Carlson, Ansel Kowitz, and Evon Leitz. The Decorah team of Julia Severtson, Lauren Severtson, and Grace Stockman placed 3rd with a score of 88/100. 

Cody remarked, “I am incredibly proud of all the teams. Their performance at the contest was remarkable. They learn so much, so quickly, and we have so much fun listening together. It never gets old to watch students argue about Robert Schumann vs. Johannes Brahms or laugh at the comedic parts of a Medieval piece of music about two very good dogs.”

The top two scoring teams from two different schools from the regional contests automatically advance to the championship competition held at Augsburg University in Minneapolis on Friday, February 9, 2024. Because of this rule, the team who scored in 11th place, Wisconsin Hills Middle School, will advance to the championships along with Decorah’s first place winning team. The 2nd place teams and the 3rd place team were chosen as wildcards because of their high scores and will compete at Augsburg as well. 

According to Cody, the contest is an ideal opportunity to enrich students’ experiences with classical music in a fun and competitive environment. This statewide contest connects high school students with classical music and enhances their ability to identify composers, periods, and styles. In the fall, teachers or coaches recruit three students to form a team. Team members receive a study guide and access to all the musical selections they will need to compete effectively.

The mission of the Music Listening Contest is to assist teachers in their efforts to expand the music experiences of students—primarily through the use of Western art music, commonly referred to as classical music. The contest materials cover classical music, global perspectives, and a variety of musical influences. The objective of the contest is to inspire students to become lifelong participants in the musical experience.

MLC Full Group

MLC Full Group: All thirteen MLC teams from DHS

MLC First Place Team 24

MLC First Place Team: Nora Lesmeister, Mason Myers, Karmyn Bakken 

MLC 2nd Place Tie 24

MLC Second Place Tie: Alex McGohan, Elizabeth Pritchard, and Jensen Korsness

MLC Top Teams 2024

MLC Top Teams: Lauren Severtson, Julia Severtson, Grace Stockman, Mason Myers, Nora Lesmeister, Evon Leitz, Ansel Kowitz, Aidan Nalean-Carlson