Photo By Darren Neff/EAC: High School Honor Festival Guest Conductor Bill Meldrum directs band students in their Honor Festival Performance at EAC’s Fine Arts Auditorium.
By Callie Walters
THATCHER – Eastern Arizona College’s music department hosted its 55th annual High School Honor Band, Honor Choir, and Honor Orchestra Festival last week. In attendance were 349 students from 20 Arizona high schools, along with three special guest directors. This year’s directors included Bill Meldrum (band), from Independence High School; Dr. Sam Tsugawa (orchestra), from Brigham Young University; and Dr. Reed Criddle (choir), from Utah Valley University.
The festival originated in 1968 and was designed to provide a rehearsal and performance experience for high school students who might not normally have such an opportunity. “We are layering musical skills that students can take back to their classrooms all over eastern Arizona,” said Criddle. “It’s been wonderful to meet the students from this region and see what they’re capable of when they combine.”
This year, the choir rehearsed and performed three songs; Va, Pensiero (from Nabucco), Molihua, and One Foot/Lead with love.
“I’m conducting the honor band this year and am very honored to do so,” said Meldrum. “I love spending time at EAC because this community values music like no other. When Mr. DeSpain throws me an invitation to this event, I am quick to grab it.”
The band practiced and performed four musical pieces: 3, 2, 1…, Sousa Classics, I Dreamed a Dream (from Les Miserables), and our Kingsland Spring (1st movement from “Georgian Suite”).
The orchestra students also practiced and performed four musical selections; Sea Songs, Red Rhythmico, Symphony No. 104 (Finale), As Summer Was Just Beginning (Song for James Dean), and Carpe Diem! (Overture for String Orchestra). “I’ve been doing this a long time,” said Tsugawa, guest orchestra conductor. “I love music because it gave me a good place to be with good friends. Becoming a musician was always a goal of mine, and now I get to do it for a living. It’s really, really fun!”
Geoff DeSpain, EAC band director, music professor, and coordinator of the event said, “This is one of the music department’s biggest recruiting events. It takes a lot of work and planning but it is worth it to see music students coming together for the sake of music. Once they are here, we hope they look around (and) see themselves carrying on their music education right here at EAC.”
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