Hopi High musicians hit high notes during performances

POLACCA, Ariz. - The Hopi High band, guitar class, jazz and percussion groups have been drawing attention from throughout the northland.

Hopi High music students performed at the Grand Canyon Guitar Society Festival at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff.

Hopi High music teacher Thomas Irwin helped get this festival off the ground along with Craig Yarborough from the GCGS because there hadn't been any festivals like this in northern Arizona for a while.

Schools from throughout the state were invited and about 10 schools attended.

Adam delMonte, a world renowned flamenco and classical guitarist, gave a performance before giving a clinic to the students with pointers on how to play flamenco music. He is the third world-renowned guitarist the Hopi High guitar students worked with this year. They previously performed with Flavio Cuchie and Florian LaRousee at the Coconino Center for the Arts.

The 13-member ensemble performed at the GCGS. The ensemble received the superior rating. Xavier Sakeva received the top award. Brandon Barton and Calvin Lomayestea also received superior ratings.

"It was a lot of pressure and they did well," Irwin said.

The Hopi High band also performed at the Reservation Music Festival in Kayenta. A half dozen schools performed. The Red House Family Band performed jazz and served as judges. This Navajo family is from Teec Nos Pos, but grew up in San Francisco, which is known for its jazz.

The Hopi High concert band, jazz band and jazz ensemble all received superior ratings from the Red House Family Band judges.

"This was a good experience," Irwin said. "The Red House Family Band was phenomenal."

The Hopi High music group performed its end of the year concert May 16 in the cafeteria. The auditorium was not available because it's being renovated.

Irwin said the cafeteria is a difficult venue because there was a problem with some of the band members hearing the others. He said the jazz and percussion bands performed well.

"It was well attended and it was nice to have the audience so close. That meant there was more interaction," he said.

The percussion section played a reggae song, "The Cay." They also played a drum song called "Jungle Bang" that had everybody moving to the beat.

"The parents were excited," he said about the concert.

Irwin said the curriculum will stay the same next year, but a marching band might be added.


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