Payson Sends 22 Musicians To Grueling, All-Star Performance

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In the end, they all drooped.

But who could blame them? The rigor of practice and intensity of the performance had as much fervor as the Olympics, from trumpets, to French horns to bass drums.

The best music students in Northern Arizona traveled to Holbrook, met a new music director, formed a concert band, string orchestra and choir with fellow musicians from Show Low, Snowflake, Mogollon, Round Valley, and Blue Ridge High. Then they practiced complex new music all day long for two days straight, before staging a concert featuring some of the most difficult music they’d ever tackled.

Call it the regional Olympics of music.

Whew! That’s enough to make anyone wither.

Twenty-two students from Payson High School put their hearts into doing their best at the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) Northeast Region Music Festival Feb. 14 and 15.

Like the Olympics, each musician had to try out for the honor.

Even then, they faced the risk of getting sent home if they showed up without knowing their music.

None of the Payson students failed despite receiving some of the music just three days before the event.

With soaring sounds and impressive solos, all of the Payson students not only survived — they played brilliantly.

The AMEA brings in conductors from all over the world to help the students improve their musicality.

Not only does the festival have a band concert, but also an all-string orchestra and a choral group.

Although Payson contributed more than 40 percent of the musicians to the band, the music program at the district does not support a string program. Although several students qualified for both band and choir, all the Payson students elected to play in the concert band. A few years ago, Payson had a strings program, but budget cuts forced that program to fold.

Payson does have multiple choral groups, however, only two members tried out and qualified for regionals.

Unlike the Olympics, where an athlete can compete in more than one discipline, the two students who qualified for choir had to choose between either the band or singing.

Next stop for those who qualified, the state concert band, but they have to raise the money to go.

Gee. Just like the Olympics — without the commercials.

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