Jared Tickles The Ivories So Well

I observed Jared Hollingworth from my pew as he sat in his across the aisle. He waited serenely and listened intently to 17 other pianists perform before it was his turn. When it was, he adjusted the ebony and ivory keyboard necktie he was wearing with his white shirt before walking upfront to the grand piano. He proceeded to play a delightful Lorie Line arrangement of “Silent Night.”


That was Saturday night, Dec. 15, in Immanuel Lutheran Church, Grand Forks, when his piano instructor, Gloria Bethke, presented her students in recital. Two things drew me to this recital. Gloria is my first cousin and she has outstanding students. Plus I wanted to hear Jared again.

The Sunday before (Dec. 9), Jared was No. 16 on the list of contestants who vied for three cash prizes when the Grand Forks Exchange Club held its second annual “The Valley’s Got Talent” in the Empire Arts Center. I was a judge for the first show in December of 2011 and was honored when the Exchange Club asked me back to do it again this year. My judging cohorts were Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown, Terry Dullum, anchor and producer of WDAZ News @ 5, and Dan Dubuque, an Exchange Club member.

At the Empire Arts Center competition, Jared took third place. I was somewhat disappointed as I felt he should have been No. 1, but then I was only one of three judges.

First place winner at the Empire was singer Michelle Stahlecker, Grand Forks, who interspersed a theatrical performance with her music. Second place winner was Denise Gaber Oxby, a singer from Roseau, Minn.

At the Empire, Jared beautifully mastered an arrangement of “All of Me,” by Jon Schmidt, classical New Age piano player and composer. At times he played probably an entire octave at one time by laying an arm over the keys.

What a delightful resonance that produced.

What also first impressed me about Jared, who is 14 and a freshman at Red River High School, is how poised and well spoken he was when Zach Ahrens, the emcee, interviewed him before he sat down to play. Zach asked Jared if he had any advice for kids who think they might want to quit piano lessons. His advice was to find pieces that are so much fun to play that you wouldn’t ever want to give it up.

Pretty smart concept don’t you think?

At the recital at Immanuel, it was most enjoyable to meet Jared’s parents, David and Michelle Hollingworth, and his sister, Andrea. He has another sister, Karen, and another brother, Todd, who were unable to be there.

I always enjoy meeting new people and it’s most heartwarming to witness the closeness of families. The Hollingworths are excellent examples. Hope I run into them again somewhere down the road and I look forward to the next time I can hear Jared play.

Until Soon