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Teen pianist receives Medici Project funding

Alicia Heath, 14, received a Medici Project scholarship, which will pay for one year's worth of piano lessons. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

Alicia Heath, a freshman at Park Rapids Area High School, is the most recent recipient of a Medici Project scholarship, a program through the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC).

Heath, 14, was awarded one year's worth of piano tutelage. She's been taking weekly piano lessons since she was 10.

Begun in 2012, the artistic flowering of local, talented youth is the Medici Project's mission. It is named after the famous Italian family who commissioned work by Donatello, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, da Vinci and Michelangelo. The Medici's patronage of the arts made Florence, Italy the cradle of the Renaissance.

Heath was nominated for the scholarship by Annette Haas, a youth minister at St. Peter's Catholic Church.

"Alicia is a wonderful, young lady who is very willing to share of her time and talent at St. Peter's Catholic Church," Haas said. "As her youth minister, I have watched her grow in her confidence and her willingness to serve. She song-leads quite often at Mass and leads the congregation well. I nominated her because I would like to see her pursue her musical gifts and continue to learn while she is young and enthused about music. It is great that our area offers scholarships to help our young people in the arts!"

Heath hopes to play the organ during church services when her skills are perfected.

Even as a toddler, mom Diane noticed how much Alicia enjoyed musical toys.

In addition to piano, Alicia has participated in the school choir since sixth grade. She plans to learn the guitar.

Gathering around family members, like her grandfather and aunt, while they play piano and guitar is "just one of my favorite memories," Alicia said of her musical inspiration.

She particularly enjoys learning to play slow pop songs on the piano, such as "All of Me" by John Legend and "Lost Boy" by Ruth B.

Medici Project requirements

Children in kindergarten through Grade 12 who show interest, talent or motivation in literary, performing arts or visual arts are eligible for PRLAAC's Medici Project. They must be nominated by a teacher or mentor.

The ideal candidate is passionate, skilled, honest, inquisitive and aspiring to fulfill a dream.

The Medici Project offers three types of financial support: stimulation, scholarship or enrichment.

If a teacher identifies a beginning artist who might benefit from a trial period of lessons — say, six weeks — to see if the student enjoys and prospers from tutelage, the Medici Project funds that opportunity.

Enrichment funds from the Medici Project help gifted students attend a workshop, performance or special event.

A Region 2 Arts Council grant allowed PRLAAC to "incubate" the Medici Project. Seed money also came from the Nancy Tague Memorial Fund. Tague was a public school art teacher, Park Rapids City Council member, PRLAAC member and weaver.

Private individuals have also contributed to the Medici Project. Monetary gifts are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact Dawn Kast at 732-8258 or Paul Dove at 237-0400.

Nomination forms for the Medici Project are available at www.prlaac.org.

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