NEW MEXICO HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAMS SHINE VIRTUALLY
Each year the New Mexico Music Educators Association accepts 5 Honor Ensembles to feature for their All-State event. These ensembles are selected by audition on a rotating basis. This year’s ensembles included:
- Band – Las Cruces HS Wind Symphony, Ty Frederick – Director
- Choir – Centennial HS Bella Voce, Christa Fredrickson – Director
- General Music – School of Dreams Academy Spartan Guitar Ensemble, Jeff Jolly – Director
- Jazz Ensemble – Bosque School Jazz Trio, Aaron Morales – Director
- Orchestra – Los Alamos High School Symphonic Strings, Michelle Rosette – Director
Preparing for these performances has been a challenge for everyone. Because of the public health orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the students could not rehearse together as a large group and were forced to perform individually through Zoom. The band met in small pods, when possible. Each student recorded his/her part individually and then mixed them all together to create a cohesive sound. Some music directors haven’t seen their students live since mid-March. The groups then made recordings over and over and over again with the understanding perfection comes through practice. The schools were forced to be creative with the new reality of virtual musical performance. Through it all, they remained focused and the end result is a collection of masterful performances by these schools.
Swan Named Star by Alex Tedrow performed by the Las Cruces High School Wind Symphony/Woodwind Choir/Band
“We have seen hard work and persistence to overcome challenges that we couldn’t even imagined a year ago,” said School of Dreams Academy founder and superintendent Michael Ogas.
“What makes this year different is the lengths to which they had to go to demonstrate their mastery of music,” said Las Cruces High School Principal Michell Ronga. “Their enthusiasm for their art is exceptional and is to be commended.”
Vigilantly Auspicious by J. David Beasley performed by the Las Cruces High School Wind Symphony
“What a year this has been and how much we are learning,” said School of Dreams Academy guitar instructor Jeff Jolly. “Not only have we had to learn to use new technology with all its benefits and limitations, but we have also found out that without rehearsing in person there are so many details we cannot take for granted the way we did before we were separated.”
“This year has had a lot of ups and downs and it’s been kind of wild, but I think there’s been a lot of rewarding experiences because of this unique format,” said Los Alamos student Violet Henderson.
“These girls have overcome so much to get to where they’re at today,” said Centennial principal Susie Hendee. “I’ll never forget March 13th, 2020 when Ms. Fred was devastated to get the news that everything was shut down. At the time we thought it was temporary, but here we are still with an online virtual setting. These girls had to be creative on how they were going to record their music, unite together to make the sound beautiful, and they’ve done it.”
“Our choir is strong,” said Centennial sophomore Jada Bryant. “No matter if we’re apart, we can definitely make something beautiful together.”
These directors and their students deserve an extra round of applause for their resilience and dedication and perseverance to complete their virtual performances. “While COVID disrupted their playing schedule, and with the withdrawal of one member shortly before the school year started, they were still able to put together this performance with a high level of coordination,” said Bosque School Jazz Trio music director Aaron Morales.
“All of us, as teachers, know how special our students are to us,” said Jolly. “I feel so privileged and honored to work with mine. Not only are they good musicians, they’re good people. The hope they represent is real and reassuring.”
“As we go forward through new and uncharted territory, we are inspired by the making of music, despite the separation caused by a pandemic and the imperfect connections we must make through technology, because music still feeds our souls,” said Jolly.
Land of Enchantment by Carol Brittin Chambers performed by the Las Cruces High School Wind Symphony