The kids of Craig are hitting the high notes.
The music program of Moffat County High School hosted its Winter Concert Tuesday, with the Symphonic and Jazz Bands performing a number of compositions for the audience’s listening pleasure.
Opening with a special version of “The Star Spangled Banner” as arranged by John Williams, the Symphonic Band’s set included William Latham’s multi-segment piece “Three Chorale Preludes,” David Reed’s “Guardians of the Sea” and “Choreography” by Robert Sheldon.
The ensemble consisted of 60 students — many clad in Santa hats, holiday sweaters or both — playing everything from brass, woodwinds and percussive instruments to a single string bass, all under the guidance of director John Bolton.
“It went way better than rehearsal went (Monday), but we got all the bugs out and they did a good job,” Bolton said.
Bolton joined in with the Jazz Band later in the performance, playing the saxophone alongside the smaller group, made up of saxes, trumpets, trombones, a piano, a bass guitar and a drum kit.
Bolton said his part in the show was to add to the audio experience.
“Two saxes just isn’t enough, and those guys (Kolton Nash and Corey Miller) played well, but we just needed some more sound. Besides that, I just want to play once in a while, too, throw the horn in my face,” he said. “We lost more bodies than we gained this year, but I think we’ll make up for that second semester.”
Jazz Band played newly arranged instrumental renditions of Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” Rodgers and Hart’s “It Never Entered My Mind” and Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe,” ending with the seasonal “O Tannenbaum,” which elicited a standing ovation from the crowd.
“This was an experiment with the Jazz Band,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do some combo work, and the block schedule allowed us to work on rotating kids throughout the rhythm section as well as work on our main ensemble pieces.
The members of Jazz Band also presented their own solos during the concert. Sophomore Veronica Mead played Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” on the bass trombone.
Between the options of playing on her own and joining in with a group, Mead said she preferred the latter.
“It’s like a family, and you make real good friends you’re going to keep the rest of your life,” she said. “They’ve all done a lot of work, and they’re very good musicians.”
The band students of Craig Middle School also had their concert this week, showing their talents Thursday night before the onset of Winter Break.
Bolton oversees band classes in both schools, teaching about 150 students ranging from sixth-graders to seniors.
“The eighth grade is really coming along, they’re fairly balanced, but they’re very small, and the seventh grade, I’m pushing them.” he said.
Bolton added that the seventh-graders’ prep time on one piece in particular had less than seven hours worth of rehearsal, but their ability to handle it was something he found “absolutely miraculous.”
The Winter Concert marks the last time the bands will perform again until spring, though some students have been selected to participate in programs across the state in the meantime.
Mead said she has been working with a professor with Colorado Mesa University to continue to improve her tone and technique.
“I’ve definitely improved a lot this year,” she said. “I’m hoping it will be my major in college.”
Senior Tim Womble, who plays the baritone, said he is likely not going to focus wholly on music after high school, though it will undoubtedly be part of his life forever.
“I’ll enjoy doing it from here on out strictly as a hobby,” he said.
A skilled teacher and bandmates are what have made high school memorable, Womble added.
“I really like a lot of the music Mr. Bolton selects and playing that kind of stuff,” he said. “Mr. Bolton is a great guy and I love working with all the band members because all of them are the kind of people I’d be friends with. It’s a great group, and Mr. Bolton makes it a great atmosphere.”
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.