High school premieres Arizona theme

New Way Academy student art recently exhibited at Scottsdale's Calvin Charles Gallery

The Hamilton High School Band presents a free premiere performance of the “Arizona Centennial Overture” this evening, Dec. 13 at 7pm at Hamilton High School in Chandler. The overture is being conducted by its composer, Sy Brandon of Cottonwood– whose music you might have heard on NPR, MTV’s “Never Before Seen” and the Discovery Channel’s “Animal Planet.”

The “Arizona Centennial Overture” was commissioned by the Arizona Commission on the Arts to help celebrate Arizona’s centennial. It “pays tribute to the unique blend of the various cultures that had a part in shaping Arizona into what it is today.” The overture, six and a half minutes in length, is divided into three main sections.

The first section begins with “fanfares that announce the celebration,” then transitions to music paying tribute to the pioneers who migrated to Arizona. It’s rustic quality reflects “the pioneering spirit of the ranchers, farmers, miners, and merchants who came to Arizona seeking a better way of life.”

The second section pays tribute to “the various Native American cultures that are a large part of Arizona’s history and its present way of life.” It begins with flutes and percussion instruments representing the Native American respect for nature, which are followed by “a ceremonial dance that increases in intensity.”

The third section is “influenced by Mariachi music to recognize the Hispanic influence in Arizona.” It includes “an original rollicking tune” followed by “a lyrical melody.” A brief ending then “brings the work to a rousing close” with a mixture of fanfare, Native American and Hispanic elements.

“Turquoise and Thunderstorm,” a work for chorus, was also commissioned for Arizona’s centennial celebration. It’s the work of composer James DeMars of Tempe, whose works have been performed by the Phoenix Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, New York Choral Society and many others — and librettist Alberto Rios of Chandler, author of numerous collections of poetry and winner of the 1981 Walt Witman Award.

Both musical compositions are available for performance by a wide variety of musicians — including high school, college/university, community, faith-based, semi-professional and professional ensembles. To learn more about these works or tonight’s premiere of the “Arizona Centennial Overture,” visit the Arizona Commission on the Arts website at www.azarts.gov.

– Lynn

Note: Visit www.az100years.org to learn about additional centennial celebrations — which you can search by category (arts, educational, festivals, history, outdoors and more).

Coming up: Celebrating the centennial — arts and culture style

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