Marissa Hanson will tour Europe as a Minnesota Ambassador of Music next summer.  PHOTO BY GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Marissa Hanson will tour Europe as a Minnesota Ambassador of Music next summer. PHOTO BY GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Marissa Hanson's music life is going continental. She was recently selected to travel to Europe next year as part of the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music next summer.

"I enjoy everything about music," said the Chatfield High School junior. "Music. Is. My. Life. When I listen to music, it touches me in ways that others don't get, and when I'm playing or a part of music, I always get emotional, especially in band."

Marissa is the daughter of Pat and Kathy Hanson and will travel to England, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and Germany during the Ambassadors' tour.

She found out she would be representing Chatfield High School on April 2. The 17-year-old didn't have to apply to become an ambassador since she takes voice lessons with Chatfield's choir instructor, Barbara Ahl. Marissa expressed her interest and Ahl recommended her.

Marissa's reaction to the news was, "Oh, my gosh," she said. "I was quite shocked and thrilled."

Marissa has been a member of the school choir since she was small.

"I am in choir, which I have been in since I was in elementary school. I never chose to not take choir. I am also in band, and I play the trumpet, which I have been playing since fifth grade," Marissa explained. "I have sung at large group contest with our choir, and I sing solos for small group choir contest which, including this year, I have been doing for three years now. And just this year, I did Three Rivers for choir and am a part of the choir's women's group, which meets every Tuesday morning."

She shares her musical talents outside of school as well. Marissa explained, "And I have been singing at church every Sunday since before I could walk."

She noted she loves singing, however has sought professional help to improve her voice. "I am very insecure about my voice, so I started taking voice lessons from Mr. Rabe, the former choir teacher, and doing solos, which has helped me musically. In my spare time, ironically, I listen to music. I always listen to music, no matter what. I love to read and write, and music helps things flow."

Marissa feels humbled to be selected to travel with the choir, which is comprised of nominated band and choir students from across Minnesota.

"Being an ambassador excites me because I never thought I, as the little shy person that I am, would ever represent anything, let alone my own school," she said. "Representing Chatfield excites me because I know I will do my best, behave my best, and have as much fun as humanly possible. I hope that the others who hear me sing don't think 'Whoa, she can sing!' I hope they think 'Hmm, yes, she deserves to be here, and Chatfield must have a very nice school.'"

Marissa has over a year to get ready for the tour, and she's got some singing to do before she departs. "How I'm going to prepare is sing, dance and go to school," she admitted. "I guess I can't really prepare, other than pack when the time comes, because I have no idea what to expect and even though that frightens me, it also excites me."

Marissa plans to seize the chance to see the world while she's abroad with her fellow ambassadors.

"What do I hope to see? Well, just the world," she exclaimed. "It's always been my dream to travel, but never this young, but God has a plan for everyone, and who am I to complain? What I want to do is eat. That might sound strange, but I love food just as much as music and my family and friends, and that happens to be a lot! So getting to taste all the wonderful foods and doing all the singing I will be doing, hopefully I don't come back to America weighing 300 pounds. What I hope to learn from other ambassadors is that they love music just as much as me, and maybe even more."

The prospect of being a member of the ambassadors is very tantalizing and exciting to Marissa, who values the opportunity greatly, understanding that it doesn't come along every day.

"It's important to me because I'm just a normal teenage girl whose choir teacher thought was humble and good enough to do something this life changing," Marissa concluded. "I want people to know that it's possible. I'm no Stevie Nicks, but I get to do something life changing and you can, too - anything is possible. If you see my parents, thank them for raising me right, and thanks to Ms. Ahl for her hard work, too."