In a glory of passionate, precise music that earned a standing ovation, the Payson High School band, chorus and guitar groups on May 11 performed their final concert of the season.
So exhilarating and lively was the music, listeners could barely keep from getting out of their seats to dance along with the notes full of joy.
This concert represents the end of band director Sergio Beraun’s inaugural year.
Former director Daria Mason met Beraun when his fiancee (soon to be wife) Ashley Kendrick introduced herself to Mason after becoming the music teacher for the Pine School in 2011.
The two Rim Country music teachers met in 2007 when they attended New Mexico State University together. They plan on wedding June 4 this year.
Beraun grew up in New Mexico where he became interested in music in middle school.
“I first got into music during seventh grade when I tried to convince my mom to buy me a drum set and walked out with a sax(ophone) so I could learn to read music,” said Beraun.
The valedictorian of his high school, Beraun started his college career intending to become a doctor, but switched to music after receiving a minor in psychology, chemistry and philosophy from the University of Tulsa. He ultimately received a bachelor’s of music and a master’s of trumpet performance from the University of New Mexico.
Beraun’s love of music has filtered down to his students.
At Wednesday’s concert, the band played a piece professional bands play, “Folk Dances” by Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich.
One of the students gushed after the performance that the “Folk Dances” sheet music came from Beraun’s University of New Mexico music program.
But Beraun also inspired the guitar and choir classes to put out impressive efforts.
The beginning guitar class played “Bourree” by G.F. Handel and “Andate” by Ferdinando Carulli.
The advanced guitar class asked Beraun to leave the stage so they could show the audience they could play by themselves. He watched from the sidelines, a huge grin on his face as the group had a hiccup that forced them to start over while playing “Etude No. 7” by Matteo Carcassi.
But he let them work through it, trusting they could do it.
It’s that trust in the students that allowed the music groups to move beyond what they have ever done before.
“I feel that I set a very high expectation with the students and they accomplished an incredible amount,” said Beraun.
This year, Beraun was very proud of the mixed choir, the group that feeds into the more advance modern choir and vocci choir.
As he introduced the “Highlights from Grease” composition, Beraun said the group received an excellent in their only state competition performance.
When it came time for the modern choir to sing, Beraun told the audience he really pushed the group.
And he wasn’t kidding.
The group sang two Eric Whitacre songs that many college choirs refuse to do because of the complexity.
Beraun also had two a cappella songs from Imogen Heap and Pentatonix that he arranged for the students.
In keeping with tradition, Beraun had seniors Louis Potvin, Brooke Kubby, Brett Royer, Spencer Lewinson and Natalia Olivares conduct a song of their choice.
But the finale was all Beraun’s — “The Folk Dance.”
“The students who qualified for regionals played this,” said Beraun.
The band nailed the complicated piece and brought the audience to their feet in a final standing ovation.
Beraun has great pride in his band.
“This group’s greatest accomplishment this year has been to be successful competitively while maintaining a familial relationship with one another,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what the students will be able to accomplish next year. They grew immensely as young adults and musicians, and the incoming freshman class is already working with the marching band preparing for next season.”
Beraun only had one worry this year.
“My greatest challenge was having very large shoes to fill. Daria Mason did a great job reaching out to the community and in training exceptional musicians. I would be lying if I wasn’t worried of being ‘that guy’ that destroyed years of her work.”
Judging from the reaction of the audience, he has nothing to worry about.