Sixth annual Band-O-Rama Saturday night

Photo courtesy Heidi Tanner
Pagosa Springs High School band students prepare for the sixth annual Band-O-Rama concert being held this Saturday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium.

By Heidi Tanner
Special to The PREVIEW

Band-O-Rama is this Saturday night, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium.

The Pagosa Springs Community Band is gearing up for this concert, which features our three middle school and two high school bands, as well as our own band. Each band will perform individually and then comes the grand finale in which all the bands join together for one final piece.

This concert is the Pagosa Springs Community Band’s way of supporting instrumental music education in our community. Admission to this concert is free. Donations will be accepted with gratitude and will be shared equally amongst the Community Band and the middle school and high school music departments.

Dan Burch, director of music education at the high school, will be directing his concert band and jazz band.

The jazz band is planning to perform “River City Blues” and “Drummin’ Man,” both entertaining pieces that will set your toes tapping. “Drummin’ Man” was written and performed by Gene Krupa, an iconic American jazz and big band drummer who is considered the founding father of the modern drum set. Krupa eventually lead his own band and was a flamboyant showman who brought the drum solo into its own during the 1930s and 1940s with a career that spanned from the late 1920s until his death in 1973.

The high school concert band will entertain with “Gadget” and “The Winds of Change.” “Gadget” is a fun and fast-paced piece written by Randall D. Standridge and published in 2012, so is a modern composition. The quirky percussion, interesting textures and punctuated winds you will hear in this piece create this musical gizmo that is very exciting to listen to.

The Community Band will be playing a very special March called “The Sangesurian March,” written by Aram Khachaturian, an Armenian composer. We cannot say for certain, but our upcoming performance may be the first performance of this piece in the United States.

Karen Mesikapp, one of our dedicated band members, ran across this march online when looking for marches written for concert band by well-known orchestral composers. Mesikapp began searching for the music and found that it was not available in any of the usual places that music can be purchased.

This did not deter Mesikapp, who started emailing music publishers, bands and conservatories all over Europe looking for a source to obtain the printed music for the “Sangesurian March,” but to no avail.

Mesikapp continued the search, now concentrating on Armenia, Khachaturian’s homeland. She emailed the artistic director of the Armenian Youth Orchestra and finally hit the jackpot. The artistic director went over to Khachaturian’s house, which is now a museum devoted to his career, and scanned the score and emailed it back to Mesikapp.

But, Mesikapp’s work was not yet done, as she had to decipher the score, which was all in Russian, and then make parts for each individual instrument from the score. This was a monumental task on Mesikapp’s part for which we salute her hard work and thank her as, without her, we would not be able to perform this wonderful march — “The Sangesurian March.”

Conducting this piece for the Community Band will be Assistant Conductor and Middle School Music Director Malinda Burnett.

The Community Band is very fortunate to have all three of our music educators directing the Community Band itself for the sixth annual Band-O-Rama.

Joining Burch, high school music director, and Burnett, middle school music director, is Lisa Hartley, director of music education at the elementary school.

When Hartley began teaching in Pagosa Springs 30 years ago, she was “The Music Man” of Pagosa Springs, serving for many years as the main music educator in the entire district. During her career, she has literally taught music education at every level. She was also a primary founding organizer of Music Boosters, now known as Curtains Up Pagosa.

Hartley is retiring this year and concluding a career in music education in Pagosa Springs that began in 1987. The Community Band is especially enthusiastic and elated to have her on the podium and would like to thank her for her many contributions over the years to the music students of Pagosa Springs.

Furthermore, the Community Band would like to thank each of our conductors as not only do they faithfully complete their tasks of being music educators, but they play in the Community Band and take part in other volunteer activities in town, both musical and non-musical.

Admission to Saturday night’s concert is free, though donations are gratefully accepted.

This story was posted on April 20, 2017.