THS grad and performer with Rolling Stones to participate at scholarship benefit at the TCA on February 2
Tecumseh High School (THS) students will have the opportunity to show the community and three judges what their talent is and will have a chance to win a scholarship to a summer fine arts camp on Saturday, Feb. 2. All of the action will take place at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA), 400 N. Maumee St., beginning at 1 p.m. when the contest portion of the day begins. Any type of fine arts performance is welcome, from musicians to dancers and everything in between, but the cast will be limited to 25 of the first performers to register at the TCA. The grand finale will be at 7:30 p.m. when the winner has the opportunity to perform on stage with Tim Ries, one of Tecumseh’s most famous musicians. All tickets are $10 and all proceeds will go to the Jack and Edith Ries Memorial Scholarship Fund. There is no charge to perform for the judges, one of whom will be Ries, himself.“You have five minutes to come out and do your ‘shtick,” Ries said of the talent contest. “Winner takes all, and they will have the opportunity to perform with me on stage and to enjoy two weeks at a reputable camp. It could possibly even change their lives.”Ries said that a session in Michigan’s world-famous Interlochen summer camp was a transformative influence on his musical career when he was a student at THS and played saxophone in the school band. He went on to fame and fortune, playing and recording with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, and many others.He also expanded his musical expertise far beyond the saxophone. He has mastered more than a dozen instruments, including all of the woodwinds and keyboards and, besides his active professional performances, he also teaches. Recently he taught jazz studies at the University of Toronto. The student talent show came about through a collaboration between Ries, and another well-known local entertainer, Jim Rice, who is the high school’s retired band instructor. Ries was booked for a performance with jazz drum legend Jack DeJohnette on February 1 in Detroit and decided to take the opportunity to visit some of his family who still live in the Tecumseh area. The two came up with the talent contest idea to raise funds for the scholarship fund.Rice can take some of the credit for Ries’ meteoric rise in the music world, having instructed the young musician through his high school career, which culminated with graduation in 1977. Ries went on to get his master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan in 1984 and a host of other degrees in later years. He currently lives in New Jersey, but travels extensively for his performance schedule and stops in Michigan when he is able.The Jack and Edith Ries Memorial Scholarship is named for Ries’ parents and has been in existence since 1990 when Jack Ries passed away. Tim inherited some of his passion for music from his father who worked at Tecumseh Products and played the trumpet in the company orchestra back in the 1940s. When Edith Ries passed away in 2006, the scholarship was renamed for both parents.Scholarships from the fund were originally used for a student to attend Interlochen, but recently students have been allowed to attend the approved camp of their choice.Kathy Field, the TCA operations director, said that word is spreading about the talent contest. “Jim [Rice] and I have contacted the local dance companies and notified the band and choir directors at both the high school and middle school,” she said. “So far, publicity has been mostly by word-of-mouth but the message is getting out, and we’ve been getting calls from students.”Anyone interested in competing should visit the TCA and fill out registration and scholarship forms to be included in the lineup for the contest. Field said that the other judges for the talent show have not been announced yet but organizers are taking care to select impartial and knowledgeable judges. For further information on the contest, students may call Field at the TCA at 423.6617, Rice at 423.5343, or Karen Bunch at 517.320.7600.