Desiring the Arts

Fort Dodge will find itself on the forefront of arts and entertainment when new and emerging talent performs at the Desiring the Arts Festival Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Vocal recitals and instrumental concerts combine with art and fashion displays in a three-day event organized at the McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts that highlights young talent with local roots.

“It started off as a benefit concert to raise money for a scholarship to pursue the arts at a higher level,” said organizer Sean Buhr, “but now that it has developed into more of a festival it’s geared for younger artists to perform and showcase their artwork. It’s hard to get that attention when you are first trying to establish yourself unless you have the right connections.”

Buhr, a Fort Dodge native, has spent the past four years performing in New York City and teaching at New York University. His students include vocalists who have been on Broadway and joined the cast of national tours. They have also become recording artists and lead singers in bands.

Now, he is parlaying his interest in promoting the arts into an experience for both the audience and the performers.

“There’s going to a bunch of new and original works there,” Buhr said. “This festival is a chance for audiences to witness the debut of these pieces. It also provides others and myself an opportunity to do what we love and share that passion.”

In addition to Buhr, artists and performers originally from Fort Dodge who will be involved in the event include Vanessa Russell, an artist and photographer from Minneapolis; Katy Bird, a fashion designer currently from Kansas City; Alex Trevino, a bassist from Boston; Devon Black, an artist from Des Moines; and Patrick Buhr, a drummer from Ames. In addition, Michelle Havlik-Jergens, a pianist from Webster City, will play piano and provide accompaniment.

Joining the program will also be Bich Van, a professional singer from Los Angeles who just released her fifth album. Bich Van has trained at the National Music Conservatory in Vietnam and at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music in Long Beach, CA. She also obtained a masters in musical theater from New York University.

The concert on Thursday will include performances of well-known Broadway hits, operatic selections and Vietnamese folk, pop and classical songs. On Friday, original works, rock songs and contemporary Broadway songs will be performed. Fashion, art and photography exhibits will also be displayed throughout the festival. In addition, a newly published book will be available for purchase, as will a selection of albums.

“I wanted to bring together as many genres of the arts as possible,” Buhr said.

In addition to the performances, workshops and master classes will be offered on Saturday.

“I love working with performers, singers and actors,” Buhr said, “and I want to offer my strengths and experiences with anyone who would like to learn. Having the incredible opportunities to perform and work with some of the greatest people in the business…I feel the need to share my experiences and teach.”

Anyone who wants to attend or participate in the workshops can do so, he said. Buhr and the other artists will lead the masterclasses and lectures, which include vocal technique, acting coaching, art, fashion, photography, and instrumental lessons. Tickets for the event are good for all three days.