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Best Brass of Christmas mixes professional and student musicians for a performance in Aztec


November 30, 2018

By Jacque Ritchie, TALON

Along with the mistletoe and tinsel, this holiday season the community of Aztec will receive the gift of music! On Sunday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. Aztec High School will host the "Best Brass of Christmas" ensemble for one special "Keeping Aztec Stronger" benefit concert. Sponsored by the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, all proceed from the event will go directly to the Aztec Municipal School District Foundation to benefit the families of those effected by the December 7, 2017 AHS tragedy. Best Brass of Christmas is an 11 piece ensemble made up of professional musicians from around New Mexico, Colorado and as far away as Washington. Founded in 2007 the group has performed all over the region including Durango, Cortez, Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Albuquerque.

For the Keeping Aztec Stronger memorial concert, five members of our own award-winning AHS marching band were selected to join the pros on stage. As the highlight of the show, the students will perform "Stand in the Light" in honor of Paco and Casey. The song was written by season nine winner of "The Voice" Jordon Smith.

This week, TALON caught an early morning rehearsal with the student musicians and ensemble members, Connie Schulz on euphonium and Mick Hesse on trumpet. "These kids are really great. They worked really hard and they obviously did their homework," Hesse said. Originally from Norway, Hesse played trumpet for the US Army while attending West Point, "These guys are very excited to get up on stage and do the performance and I am sure they will really shine."

AHS Senior Charlotte Martin plays trombone which may have once seemed an unusual instrument choice for a girl, "My dad played the trombone, so that is what probably drew me to it, in fact this is my dad's trombone that he played in high school...it's been a lot of fun," Martin said showing off the shiny brass instrument, "In our generation, I've never really felt like being a girl was a barrier." Alexis Acrey plays French horn and agreed that, female brass musicians are no longer the exception but more of a rule, "It's way more accepted then it used to be, and for me like, playing the French horn and everything, not many people play it anymore so, like in a band situation, it doesn't matter if I'm a guy or a girl as long as someone is playing French horn they're happy."

As far as the challenge of playing alongside professional musicians, Isaiah Mendietta said, "It's just exciting, I've been playing tuba for like, nine years, in schools and stuff and now in a high school band, it's going to be awesome to play with people that have been doing this their whole lives." Aeden Wells on trumpet, is looking forward to the experience of playing alongside Mick Hesse, "I've seen a lot of concerts Mick has played in and it's like, I'm going to play with him and with them and I've got to play at that level. So it's gonna be a challenge but I'm excited for it." Fellow trumpet player Adrian Quintanna added, "These guys have been playing longer than we've been alive maybe by several times..." Listening from stage right, ensemble member Connie Schulz laughed and challenged, "Whoa! Hold on now, how old do you think we are?" "40" Quintanna shot back amid more laughter, "Anyway, it's gonna be an experience for sure, their level of playing is way above high school level, they are professionals, so I'm excited for that."

Some of the students plan to become music teachers in the future, others were not sure what they want to do career-wise yet but all the kids agreed that music would always be a part of their lives. All the students agreed too, that playing in the memorial benefit concert was very important to them, "We want to help in any way we can and if that's through music we are all more than happy to help," said Acrey. Aedan Wells summed it up by saying, "We humans have this innate emotional connection with music, even though it's just sound and like these random vibrations in the air, it's just cool when people can connect with it. So it's like that whenever people are having these dark thoughts about what happened this past year, that maybe this music can help them to heal, and it's very cool to be a part of that."

We at TALON want to urge everyone to come on out and enjoy an afternoon of holiday music and support the AMSD Foundation.

Where: AHS Multipurpose Space

When: Sunday, December 9, 2018 @ 2:00 p.m.

Admission: Donations Accepted at the Door


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