West Bloomfield student named distinguished musician

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 8, 2018

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Nearly 250,000 Michigan high school students competed this year to be among the 1,000 students invited to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. 

One of those students is a West Bloomfield resident who has been named a Michigan Youth Arts Distinguished Scholar. Jack Bull, an orchestra bassist and a junior at West Bloomfield High School, is heading to the festival this year.

“There’s certainly better players than me, and I’d like to see what they’re doing and what I can learn from them,” he said.

The students at the festival represent many artistic disciplines, including creative writing, dance, film and video, instrumental and vocal music, music composition, theater, and visual arts.

A thousand Michigan high school students are invited to attend the 56th annual festival, to be held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo May 10-12. The students, chosen from across the state, were selected after being judged at regional competitions. 

“I’m glad to be (going) there,” said Bull. “It will be good to represent the school and have the chance to talk to people in the industry.”

The MYAF began in 1963 in Interlochen, Michigan, with 150 students. Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially and has become more competitive, with hundreds of thousands of students competing each year for an invitation. 

Student performances at the festival are free and open to the public. Patrons of the MYAF come from across the state to watch the students perform. 

Bull has been playing bass since he was in sixth grade and started privately studying with Dale Anderson the summer after that school year. 

“(Anderson) has really been a mentor for Jack,” said Denise Bull, Jack Bull’s mother. “We’re thankful to have him.” 

The MYAF chooses students to come to the festival who have performed in one of seven performances with the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association and the Michigan American String Teachers Association. 

Students can perform in the MSBOA’s Honors Band, Honors Orchestra, Honors Jazz Ensemble, Instrumental Showcase, and Instrumental Soloist and Jazz Combo, as well as in the MASTA’s String Chamber Ensemble, to be chosen to go to the festival. 

Jack Bull has performed with the Honors Orchestra for the past two years. In March, he performed at a solo and ensemble statewide competition, and was invited to the festival after his performance there. 

“Certain kids get picked because their (music) gets a high score; some get picked with their proficiency score,” said Denise Bull. “I thought (Honors) Orchestra was a talented group, but this group is much bigger and more talented.”

The festival features workshops and master classes for students alongside over 20 student performances and exhibitions. 

For more information about the MYAF, visit www.michiganyoutharts.org.