More than 200 middle and high school performance ensembles from across Colorado are set to come to Grand Junction to participate in the annual Colorado West Invitational Music Performance Festival from Wednesday through Saturday, April 24–27, at area high schools and Colorado Mesa University.

The festival was first organized in 1926 by Audrey Stong, who was Grand Junction director of bands from 1924–30, according to an online information booklet about the festival at d51schools.org.

"Mr. Stong and his father opened a music store in Grand Junction in 1924 and soon realized the need to organize a boys' band that would create a market for musical instruments ... Mr. Stong created a band in Grand Junction and within two short years produced the First Colorado West Music Festival," the booklet said.

That original competition took place on Fifth Street between Main Street and Rood Avenue.

This year the event will entail four days of competition in auditoriums at three area high schools and Colorado Mesa University.

All performances are free and open to the public. Here is a basic schedule of performance locations:

■ Wednesday, April 24: middle school orchestras and one high school symphony orchestra will perform from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Palisade High School.

■ Thursday, April 25: bands will perform 8 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. at Central High School and 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Grand Junction High School; choirs from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at Colorado Mesa University; and orchestras from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Palisade High School.

■ Friday, April 26: jazz bands, concert bands and wind symphonies will perform from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at Central High School; wind ensembles and bands from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at Grand Junction High School; choirs from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at Colorado Mesa University; and orchestras from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at Palisade High School.

■ Saturday, April 27: jazz bands will perform from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Central High School; jazz choirs from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Colorado Mesa University.

A breakdown of ensembles performing, times (including breaks) and locations can be found at d51schools.org.

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