SHS Symphonic and Jazz bands: ‘superior’
FARMER’S KORNER – On April 22, the Summit High School Symphonic Band sat in a gymnasium at Grand Valley High School in Parachute playing “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon,” at the Colorado High School Activities Association Large Group Festival.
A panel of three judges read along on the score, evaluating each note that emanated from the students’ instruments.
“It was extremely difficult,” said Shun Sakaguchi, saxophonist and percussionist. “A gym is really different from an auditorium or a band room.”
“Everyone was worried, but none of us stopped and said, ‘I quit.’ We all kept playing. It was amazing,” said Schaulis Fike, who plays the oboe.
The group’s perseverance and discipline in a challenging environment – and months of hard work – paid off when the judges awarded them the highest possible grade of “superior.”
“I’m just extremely proud of them,” said SHS music director Stephanie Texera, whom students refer to as “Tex.” “I’m proud to be the director of music at this high school.”
The following day, the Summit High School Jazz Band traveled to Greeley to perform at the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival and showcase its skills before another panel of judges.
“This was even bigger, because it’s a national competition,” Texera said. “It’s the largest jazz fest in the country for high school and middle school students. The judges are internationally acclaimed musicians.”
At the conclusion of the SHS ensemble’s performance, one judge commented, “You guys are the best jazz band I’ve heard all day.”
SHS again received the top grade of superior. Trumpet player David Carlberg and saxophone player Gabe Wilner added to the success by receiving recognition as outstanding soloists.
“This is my third year here, and there has just been a tremendous amount of growth – night and day,” Texera said. “They’re playing high level music, and they’re playing it well.”
Texera credits the students’ success to a strong work ethic, more disciplined rehearsals and a deeper understanding and appreciation of music.
“They see the importance of playing quality music versus just rocking out,” she said. “We listen to jazz all the time, and they really like it. I have sax players listening to John Coltrane. They’re listening to NPR.”
“I’ve seen us come a long way,” said senior Mike Leone, who plays in both bands. “I’ve become a better player, and I’ve learned to enjoy it a lot more.”
“We put a lot into it,” Fike said. “We strived to do our best. We looked at the grading sheet and made sure we knew exactly what the judges were looking for and worked on those things.”
Texera takes pride in being one of only a handful of female music directors to have ever led students to receive a grade of superior.
“There aren’t many female high school band directors in Colorado. It’s a good-old-boy network here,” she said.
Texera’s students praised her for the guidance and inspiration she has given them.
“Her personality is great,” Leone said. “She makes everything so fun. Her musical talent is outstanding, and she’s big on discipline too – she’s hard-core.”
As proof that she’s “hard-core,” Texera shows no signs of slowing down, now that her students have earned the superior rating.
“I’d like to see us be competitive on the national level. I’d like to do some international travel, expand the program and hire an assistant director,” she said. “Also, I see us having more ensembles so I can diversify the talent.”
Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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