New FAME executive director Kryste M. Wallen is excited to see what students throughout the area have been preparing for the 36th Fort Wayne FAME Festival.
Students have been studying the fables and folklore of Eastern Europe and the Balkans this school year. About 6,000 pieces of art and 40 musical performances based on that theme will be on exhibit Saturday and Sunday at Grand Wayne Convention Center.
Wallen, a former professor of art at Purdue University Fort Wayne, knows how important arts can be for young people.
“I just think art and music allows students to grow and think differently, especially in the world we live in today,” she says. “There’s so many heavy things going on; it’s a different kind of life. Art and music have been proven to help students with their mental aptitude and their mental health.”
Winners or not, there’s a sense of pride at seeing work displayed in the festival, Wallen says. She remembers winning a ribbon in fourth grade.
“Creative students don’t always have the same opportunities that athletic students have … to showcase their abilities and talents,” Wallen says. “And this allows them to do that.”
Performances this weekend include choirs and bands from area schools. There is also the Celebration of Youth concert at 5 p.m. Saturday with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Orchestra led by Troy Webdell.
Webdell is the composer in residence for this year’s festival. He and composition project director Wendy Bloom worked with students during a three-evening course in the fall to teach them software for composing music. He took the pieces each student created and combined them into a fully formed work of music that will be part of the concert.
The concert includes a performance of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dance, Opera 46, No. 8,” which Webdell selected for the Fusion of Concert Colors art project. Art teachers played the piece for students who then created work based on the music. Selected art from the project will be projected behind the stage during the performance.
In addition to the music and art on display, the festival includes hands-on activities for visitors including face painting, an instrument playground and a floor piano. The Imaginarium space will have 10 crafts for children.