Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Together for the holidays

Azle Junior High bands and choir combine for joint concert at Azle High School auditorium

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AZLE — Azle Junior High’s symphonic band, wind ensemble and choir came together for a Dec. 12 performance after only one joint rehearsal.

Azle Junior High Principal Brian Roberts narrated “Santa the Barbarian,” a menacing twist on popular Christmas songs which reimagines Santa as “a warrior of the winter wastes,” and thanked the bands’ directors and students.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our band directors and our students to be able to put on a production like this,” Roberts said. “A lot of high schools don’t even combine their choirs and band. I’m very proud. I hope they enjoy themselves tonight and kind of kick off the holiday season. It’s exciting; the choir definitely put a smile on everybody’s face. They had a lot of energy. It’s awesome to see.”

Roberts said about one-third of his school was represented on stage. Directors called out their students for their academic achievements, extra hours spent practicing and efforts on the band council.

Shayla Lindsey, an eighth grade flute player in the wind ensemble described the night as a rush and was excited her months of daily practice had paid off.

Eighth grade varsity tenor base, Hudson Carroll, agreed the performance had been one of their best yet.

“I felt really good about it,” Carroll said. “The thing about choir is you have to be a group. You have to know each other, and I feel like we’ve bonded really well over the year in knowing each other. I think that was the best we’ve performed in the past few days. Even though we performed it over and over and over again. I feel like we matched really well, and we were just like, it was natural even though we only partnered up once before.”

According to choir director Jeffery Moss, the idea of a joint concert came to fruition out of the friendship he has built with band director Kevin Chapman and the need to secure time in the high school auditorium during its busiest season.

“Two years ago, Mr. Chapman and I thought it would be a cool idea to have a joint band and choir concert, and to also help free up another night for other performance groups in the district,” Moss said. “It was such a success, that we decided that this is something we wanted our programs to do every other year. It is good to show the Azle community that band and choir can collaborate and show unity. In many other districts and schools across the state and nation, band and choir directors tend to be adversaries rather than allies. It is definitely not the norm to have both music programs combine for performances let alone support each other. That is what makes last night’s performance so special. It gives our music students the opportunity to observe each other, support each other, learn from each other and to ultimately have an experience that will make them better musicians.”

The Azle High School Chorale’s show was the night before the concert, and the Azle High School concert bands performed their winter concert later that week. Azle Junior High symphonic band director Courtnie Smith was excited to make her directorial debut at the concert and was proud to lead her symphonic band and a group of saxophonists while the bands were setting up.

“I graduated from Tarleton State University last December,” Smith said. “I was the band director part time at Morgan Mill ISD while I was in college, and I taught band at Bowie Middle School in Irving last semester, but this is my first full year teaching full time. I moved to the Fort Worth area about a year and a half ago to student teach at Aledo, and when Mr. Rollins retired last year and this job opened up, I had several colleagues who recommended that I apply for the job and were putting in a good word to Mr. Martin. I’m very blessed that it worked out because this school has been really special to me. I truly have the best administration, fine arts team, and students. It was an absolute honor to be able to share the stage with this group of students last night for my first concert here at Azle. I’m really proud of the work that all of the band and choir students put in to make last night such a fun concert.”

Kevin Chapman, longtime Azle director who’s in his 18th year teaching was thrilled with his students’ conduct and the performance’s outcome.

“I think the performance was very entertaining for our audience,” Chapman said. “To see a school choir and band share a concert is not something that is typically seen at the high school level much less a junior high. Sharing the performance shows the community that the two programs are unified and work together when it comes to music education. We had one rehearsal to put the concert together the day before. Our biggest challenge was finding the time to rehearse all together at this time of year. We are most impressed with the professionalism of the students. Their behavior during rehearsal really allowed for us to get some good runs of the music in and an even better performance the night of the concert. We are thankful to have these wonderful kids in our organizations!”