By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
After a marathon of festivals, concerts and special events, the students in the Havre High School band and choir will make their curtain call beginning tonight.
The varsity and concert bands will host their final concert tonight at 7:30 in the high school auditorium, with music spanning from Korean folk song to the "Braveheart" soundtrack. Graduating seniors will also be recognized. The choir will hold its final concert next Monday.
Music from far and wide is perhaps a fitting end to a year that featured more traveling than normal for the music program.
"I think we had very good things happen (this year) and the kids did some exceptional things," said HHS band director and music department chair Ron Coons.
Coons said some of the highlights of the year included the marching band playing at the Montana State University homecoming game in Bozeman last fall, the March premier of a new piece commissioned in memory of three members of the senior class who have died, A Cappella Choir's superior rating at the Eastern Washington Music Educators Large Group Choir Festival in April, the superior ratings earned by the Symphonic Band and A Capella Choir at the District 7 Music Festival April 11-12 in Shelby, and several superior ratings earned by HHS musicians at the state music festival in Missoula. To top it all off, the band went to Canada last week.
About midnight on May 3, about 20 students returned from performing at the two-day state music festival in Missoula. By 1 p.m. on May 4, just 12 hours later, many of those students climbed back into the two buses bound for Edmonton, where the 60-member band spent three days playing in a symphony hall at the annual Edmonton Cantando Festival and being critiqued by professional musicians.
"It's an opportunity they couldn't get here," Coons said, adding that the Winspear Centre for Music in Edmonton was one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world, and that it was a chance to get comments from people who are at the top of the profession.
Students acknowledged the trip to Edmonton was tiring, but not until after it was over.
"You really didn't feel it until you got home," said junior Ross Coons, who earned a superior rating for his vocal solo and an excellent rating for his timpani solo.
"We got to play in a professional symphony hall," added Coons, the son of Ron Coons. "That is the coolest place to play I've ever seen in my life."
"It was a nice way to end the year," said band president Gina Williams, a senior. "Tuesday we did our workshops, which was really amazing. They were helpful and they were fun.
Williams estimated that the entire trip cost about $7,000, which was all raised by the fund- raising of band members.
It was the second time the band has made the trip to Edmonton.
At the state music festival May 2-3, eight of the 18 solos or duets received a superior rating, and nine others received excellent ratings. The Belle Voix choir also received a superior rating, and the brass quartet received an excellent rating.
"We had fewer going to district and state this year, but of the numbers that went they were better prepared," Ron Coons said. He said the fewer numbers was partly because the band was busy planning other activities like the trip to Edmonton.
After tonight, the whirlwind schedule will slow and give the students a chance to catch their breath.
The work isn't quite over yet, Ron Coons said. Students still have to make their audition tapes for all-state band, due June 10. And they have to put everything away after another year of playing music.
"The two times of the year I hate the most (are) the beginning and the end, taking things out and putting them back," Coons said, who has taught at HHS for 25 years. "I'd almost rather keep going."