Moffat County High School makes beautiful music |

Moffat County High School makes beautiful music

Andy Bockelman
Keri Rusthoi directs the Moffat County High School concert choir during a rehearsal. The music programs at MCHS include two sections of choir and several of band, as well as band classes throughout Craig Middle School.
Andy Bockelman

Measure for measure, the music programs of Moffat County High School can make some high quality sounds.

The singers and band students of MCHS have had a busy year, and though the specialties have taken different paths, there’s no denying their capabilities.

For the choir program, turnover has been an issue — in the last year, the groups have been overseen by three separate instructors, with Keri Rusthoi currently working with vocalists. The founder and artistic director of Steamboat Springs’ Emerald City Opera, Rusthoi has been a facet of arts in Northwest Colorado for more than a decade.

She’s been the temporary choral teacher at MCHS during the spring semester, and in that time Rusthoi said she has been blown away by the abilities of Moffat County singers.

“There’s a great tradition here, and there’s kids who really love to sing, and that’s what’s important is being into it,” she said.

The Concert Choir and the audition-only Center Stage will be performing for the community May 12.

Rusthoi also hopes to help the program set up some additional travel shows and workshops for the following year, ideally getting some fundraising rolling soon, which begins with people attending shows whenever they get the chance.

“They’re great kids, and they deserve some support,” she said.

As for the other music programs, the band classes of MCHS have been thriving in recent months. Following a peak performance at the Western Regional Qualifier for Colorado Bandmasters Association in March, the group went to CBA’s state event earlier this month in Fort Collins, part of an altogether busy month in which the bands also attended Jazz Fest in Greeley and students Veronica Mead, Ryan Secules and Laura Secules also joined in All-State activities.

Teacher John Bolton, with MCHS since 2004, said having “a lot of leaders” has helped keep practices in good form.

“We’ve got some upperclassmen who really have it together and freshmen and sophomores who want to keep it happening,” he said. “It’s kind of developing its own leadership base, really. They’re able to create some good continuity and good adhesion.”

Having also been the sole leader of the Craig Middle School band since 2011, Bolton can see musicians through as much as seven years of rehearsals.

It’s been in recent years that he’s started to raise his expectations, and he has yet to be disappointed, with group members nearly always bringing out the best in each other during practices.

The sixth-grade class will perform its recital May 15 at CMS, with the ensemble of seventh- and eighth-graders and high schoolers taking the stage May 21 at MCHS, and Bolton anticipates they will finish the school year better than ever.

“A superior band comes from the band, and the kids who really want it, they’re stepping up to it,” he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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