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Music

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth annual Music-a-Thon at Maricopa Unified School District filled the Performing Arts Center with music for seven hours Saturday. Bands and choirs from Maricopa High School, Desert Wind Middle School and Maricopa Wells Middle School performed from 1 to 8 p.m., directed by Ivan Pour, Tonya Hobt and Roger Wagner, along with guest conductor Mayor Christian Price. The MHS Marching Band has been invited to perform in the American Veterans Center’s National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. For the following year, the music department will attempt to raise $165,000, especially through the education tax credit program.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth annual Music-a-Thon by Maricopa Unified School District is May 12, 1-8 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Music-a-Thon features all of the bands, choirs, and orchestra from Grades 6-12 in MUSD. This event will feature over 500 students in seven bands, three orchestras, five choirs, and combined performances from Desert Wind Middle School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, and Maricopa High School.

Roger Wagner, director of Instrumental Music at Desert Wind, said, “We are in our fourth year of this event and it has become a must-see for music fans and our community. The beauty of a combined choir of 200 students, the incredible sound of a shared orchestra, and the power of 180 band students in performance cannot be matched.”

This year’s closing combined band piece will be conducted by Maricopa Mayor Christian Price.

“We’re excited to show what MUSD Music can do, as well as invite our yearly special guest to conduct the MHS Fight Song, Rams Fall in Line,” said Ivan Pour, director of Instrumental Music at Maricopa High School.

See the schedule

 

Photo by Michelle Chance

Tejano music fans danced for hours Saturday night during a Latin music showcase at UltraStar Multi-tainment amphitheater. Grupo El Regreso, from Phoenix, opened the show for Texas-based bands Da Krazy Pimpz and Las Fenix.

maricopa-music-fest4_-chance_-04072018
Photo by Michelle Chance

Live music boomed under the blazing sun at the Maricopa Music Fest last weekend. It’s the second event hosted by Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon after the inaugural fest four years ago. The lineup spanned genres from indie, rock and reggae to rap. Entertainment ran from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Copper Sky.

See photos at http://www.inmaricopa.com/photogallery/gallery4/ 

 

Four years after its debut, Maricopa Music Festival returns on April 7.

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Music Festival
When: April 7, 1-10 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: $20/adults; free to children under 12 and military veterans
Info: MaricopaMusicFest.us

The event, scheduled from 1 to 10 p.m. (and maybe beyond) at Copper Sky Regional Park, spotlights indie music, which itself stretches genres. Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon said more than 20 music acts are scheduled as well as other entertainment.

From pop and hip hop to reggae and a Jimi Hendrix tribute, performers are expected to bring the diversity to a concert organizers want to make an annual event.

“There will be two stages with three screens and a smoke machine,” she said. “Presentation is super important.”

The acts will have a distinct local flavor. Many are from Arizona with others coming from California, Florida and even one from Sweden. Allen-O’Jon said the musicians have been vetted to ensure quality.

As the music is playing, there will be an art walk, science walk, a glow-in-the-dark face painting contest, festival-wear contest, food and product vendors and a beer garden.

“Things will be going on all the time,” Allen-O’Jon said. “We would like to build it to be more like Coachella,” referring to a music-and-arts festival in California. She would like to draw around 1,500 music lovers.

The previous event four years ago was free, with organizers and sponsors footing the substantial bill. This time, there will be an admission fee.

At the gate, attendees pay $20, or they can purchase in advance for $15 from EventBrite. VIP tickets, which include dinner, are $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Children under 12 and military veterans get in free. The first 20 low-riders who register their cars get two free tickets.

Charging stations will be available for electronic devices. Maricopa Police Department and private security are scheduled to be on site to maintain a safe atmosphere, Allen-O’Jon said.

For those wishing to indulge in True Grit Tavern’s beer garden, organizers have a Lyft code for a safe ride home. They have also partnered with a hotel for discount prices.

“We’re going to be honoring Bikers Against Child Abuse,” Allen-O’Jon said. “They’ll be our honored guests, and all the bikers can attend free.”

 

Scheduled Performers at Maricopa Music Festival

Jimi Hendrix Review By Derrick Cummings
Lighthouse Band AZ
The Sink or Swim Band
AlmostBlu
Somewhat Damaged
Pachamama LA
John Kelley
Eric Seats & The 333’s
Born Divine
Xavier Keyz
Jean-Dominique
Carmolina
Theolodge
SomeSay
Young Energy
Prothamaddmann
Taylor McLeod
Ida Divine
Elizabeth Pope
Tanta T
Posterwall Band
The PA System
Dance Glam
A-Mac & The Height
Maricopa Brothers Taekwondo


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Photo by Mason Callejas

A “Grand Holiday Concert” Dec. 9 was an annual musical event with music, singing and dancing as Maricopa Agricultural Center played host to Maricopa Music Circle, Maricopa Chorus and Desert Sun Performing Arts.

Click photo to enlarge:

Clay Walker on stage at Ak-Chin Circle. Photo by Michelle Chance

Ak-Chin Indian Community celebrated its birthday Friday evening with performances from Parmalee and Clay Walker. The concerts are an annual event on-stage at Ak-Chin Circle that are free to the public. Country singer Kacey Tyndall opened the show.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa vocal students performed a winter choral recital Dec. 7 at the Performing Arts Center. High school and middle school choirs participated.

Parmalee

Country Rock Band Parmalee departed Nashville, Tennessee, early Wednesday morning and headed toward Arizona.

The group – made up of brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, their cousin Barry Knox and close friend Josh McSwain – will perform a free concert Friday night at Ak-Chin Circle.

The outdoor show will take place on the lawn north of Ultra Star and will open with “firecracker” Kasey Tyndall. Gates open at 6 p.m.

Tyndall has been on the road with Parmalee on their “HOTDAMALAMA” tour since November.

Parmalee frontman Matt Thomas said it’s the first headlining tour for the band that includes an opening act every night.

“We have Miss Kasey Tyndall with us. She’s a firecracker. We do some collaborations and it’s been fun playing all this new material and just going across the country,” Thomas said over the phone while strumming a guitar inside a Nashville recording studio Tuesday afternoon.

Friday, the band will perform songs off its newest album ‘27861,’ released in July. The album’s namesake is the ZIP code for the tiny town of Parmele, North Carolina. Its population was last recorded by the U.S. Census to include less than 300 people.

The group changed the spelling of their band’s name to “Parmalee” to make pronunciation easier for their fans, according to the Parmalee website.

The story behind the band’s homage to the Parmele community begins with their origin story, naturally.

When the band formed in 2001, the group sought out a recording space where they could write songs far away from distractions. They eventually found it inside a barn in Parmele that belonged to a friend of Thomas’ father.

“The first beginnings of the band came from that little barn, so we figured we’d give it a shout-out,” Thomas said.

The 12-track album was whittled down from 35 pieces the group had to decide from, including its single “Sunday Morning.”

Local fans can also expect to hear favorites from Parmalee’s previous records at the show as well.

Parmalee will play a show in Flagstaff Thursday before arriving in Maricopa. The band will open for Clay Walker Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

To listen to the full interview, click here.


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Clay Walker is on his way to Maricopa to perform at Ak-Chin Circle during Masik Tas.

Country music singer Clay Walker will hit the stage Friday as headliner of a free concert at Ak-Chin Circle.

A conversation with Clay Walker

The show is part of Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Masik Tas celebration and also features performances by openers Parmalee and Kasey Tyndall. Gates open at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. Walker’s set begins at 9 p.m.

The country star will perform his classic hits Friday as well as new material that has yet to be released.

“That’s exciting for us because no one’s heard the music and it’s kind of nice to offer that exclusively in the live shows right now, but of course, it will be out soon enough for everyone to enjoy,” Walker said during a phone call from his home outside of Nashville Tuesday.

The unreleased tracks will soon be released online, he said.

The show will also feature some of Walker’s Christmas album with songs such as “All Wrapped Up In You,” written by Walker and holiday favorites “Winter Wonderland” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

Walker first appeared on country radio airwaves in the early 1990s with hits “What’s It to You,” “Live Until I Die” and “Dreaming with My Eyes Open.”

Then in 1996, Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while in his early twenties.

“The doctor who diagnosed me, and most professionals would agree with his opinion, and that was that I was going to be in a wheelchair in less than four years and dead in less than eight,” Walker said.

But the prognosis didn’t stop Walker. He went on to regularly record music, produce hits and tour the country ever since.

“Twenty years later I can say that I know that I’ve been blessed and I know that what has happened to me is nothing less than a miracle and I’m very thankful to God for that,” he said.

Walker also founded the charity Band Against MS about 15 years ago.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find a cure for MS,” Walker said.

Walker begins a six-month tour Jan. 6. Listen to full the interview here.



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Ivan Pour chairs the Fine Arts Department at Maricopa High School and is the leader of the band. Photo by Mason Callejas

A union of imagery and sound began when Ivan and Maria Pour wed in 2008.

“In our marriage vows there is even something about ‘supporting (my) artistic endeavors and supporting his music.’” Maria said. “It’s so engrained in who we are.”

The pair’s mutual support of each other’s passions soon led to collaboration inside classrooms at Maricopa High School.

Ivan Pour is the band director; Maria teaches fine art.

Ivan Pour teaches music. Maria Pour teaches art. Photo by Mason Callejas

Every year Maria’s art students visit Ivan’s band room filled with musicians. The band performs for the young artists, who are then instructed to draw “what they hear.”

After the artwork is complete, the musicians take a gallery walk to view the results. Afterward, they compose an original piece of music inspired by their peers’ art.

“Take what you’re seeing and write what sounds like that,” Ivan tells his students.

The band programs at MHS have grown in the near decade since Ivan came to the district. What once was offered as a single class has evolved into a competitive force.

“This year we have three wind (instrument) classes and now a fourth class for the percussionists, and the color guard has their own,” Ivan said.

In April, the Division 1-ranked Maricopa High School Band and Orchestra advanced to the ABODA State Concert Festival for the second consecutive year, and the program continues to produce talented musicians.

Recent graduate and standout tubist Chance Ackerson studied under Ivan Pour during all four years of high school.

“Honestly, being in the marching band was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s basically like a family,” Ackerson said.

The culture within the marching band mirrors that of the art students, and even of the high school, Maria Pour said.

“Whether our students are captains of the football team, cheerleaders, art nerds, band nerds, gay, straight, bi-sexual, black, white, green, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s a family atmosphere here, and the teachers work really hard to get to know each of their kids to teach them valid, really important lessons.”

For the Pours, one of the most vital teachings is reinforcing their belief that art and music education lead to valuable, sustaining careers.

“What a lot of employers are looking for nowadays are people who can also think creatively and critically, and think outside of the box. A lot of our economy now is not creating things, but creating experiences,” Ivan said.

In addition to teaching advanced placement art classes, Maria teaches a 3D art course that constructed costumes for the high school’s recent performance of “Beauty and the Beast.”

She hopes her digital art program grows at MHS.

“I had students the first year I started doing the computer modeling unit in my 3D classes just all of a sudden say ‘Oh my gosh, this is something I could do.’”

A future grant written by Maria could accomplish her goal of exposing students to additional digital art classes and cutting-edge software by next year.

In November, Maria will graduate from Full Sail University with a bachelor’s degree in computer animation. She received her first bachelor’s degree in fine arts from ASU in 2010.

“I want to still stay in traditional art, that’s where my heart is, but using those traditional art skills in more of the modern setting is something that needs to be shown to them,” she said.

At home, Ivan and Maria are raising more young talent, their 5-year-old son Leo.

“There is always the constant battle to see whether he’s going to be an artist or a music nerd,” Maria said.

“It looks like he’s leaning toward art,” Ivan added.

Maria Pour is also growing a digital art program at MHS. Photo by Mason Callejas

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Peter Noone in concert. Photo by Randy Miramontez

By Michelle Chance

Maricopans are “Into Something Good” Friday when Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone perform a free concert in the Lounge inside Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino.

The group, famous for hits like No Milk Today and Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter will take the stage two times on Friday with shows at 8 and 10 p.m.

Noone and his Hermits will perform the band’s hits, as well as a variety of classics ranging from The Rolling Stones to Perry Como.

This will be the group’s third time playing in Maricopa. Noone said he and a bandmate remember the venue for its lively wildlife.

“I remember me and the drummer being fascinated by all these little animals that live there right next to the casino,” he recalled.

Maricopa is one stop among many for the group as their tour hits locations around the United States for the majority of the year.

Noone said it won’t stop any time soon.

“I think we’ve got 10 good years (left),” he said.

However, Noone said he often jokes about when that retirement timeline actually begins.

“It’s a 10- year plan from today,” he added, laughing.

The group experienced most of its commercial success in the mid-1960s at the height of the British Invasion music movement in America.

Footage of screaming, crying teens often accompany concert film of the era’s bands like The Beatles and The Animals.

And although Noone said the same hysteria once showed by his then-teenaged fans has calmed through the years, enthusiasm is still always present at shows.

“There is nothing better for an enthusiastic band than to have a load of enthusiastic people all around,” he said.

Doors for the show open at 7 and 9 p.m.

Submitted photo

Maricopa Music Circle chamber orchestra will perform an evening of music from around the world March 24.

If You Go
What: Springtime Serenade
When: March 24, 7 p.m.
Who: Maricopa Music Circle
Where: Maricopa Agricultural Center, 37860 W. Smith-Enke Road
How much: $12/adults; $10/children at the door or via BrownPaperTickets.com
Info: MaricopaMusicCircle@yahoo.com; 520-316-6268

Titled “Springtime Serenade,” the full-length program welcomes spring with a program of works fully expressing MMC’s tagline “Orchestra of Soloists” with music for the full ensemble plus individual and sectional solos. In line with the music’s wide-ranging, adventurous spirit is the concert’s location at a non-traditional performance site, the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center.

“Springtime Serenade” explores the wealth of musical riches from four continents and across four centuries in an evening of appealing and inventive music, balancing toe-tapping rhythms and the spirit of exuberance with introspective and peaceful works.

From North and South America come the infectious rhythms of Joplin’s ragtime and Darktown Strutter’s Ball, Piazzolla’s tangos, and Barroso’s Aquarela do Brasil. From Asia flow haunting melodies for solo flute. And from across Europe are music by Mozart and Beethoven, Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Debussy’s Rêverie and solo viola Beau Soir, and Bizet’s richly depicted orchestral duo from the opera “The Pearlfishers” – “sung” here as a duo for trombone and euphonium.

Add to these spirituals, music from film and stage and more, written by inspired composers.

“Springtime Serenade” begins at 7 p.m. at the conference center of University of Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center. The evening will conclude with light refreshments for the audience and performers, offering a perfect chance to mingle with the musicians.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

The Benson Family Singers are (from left) Rachelle, Luke, Aaron (who sings lead), Peter and David. Submitted photo

The Benson Family Singers will perform at Calvary Chapel Maricopa Jan. 18.

They are a family music group from Faribault, Minnesota. Peter and Rachelle Benson along with their four sons – David, Aaron, Luke and Paul – have a unique ministry consisting of barbershop, bluegrass and gospel music.

They specialize in tight, a cappella harmonies and also play a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, bass, violin and mandolin. Together, they have performed for many shows, festivals, fairs, churches and private events throughout the Midwest, including Branson, Missouri.

The Bensons use their music, humor and message to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For more information and to hear song samples, visit BensonFamilyMusic.com. Also find them at Facebook.com/TheBensonFamily.

Their Wednesday performance is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Calvary Chapel is at 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, Suite 105.

Maricopa Music Circle

Continuing a city tradition, Maricopa’s premier music ensemble Maricopa Music Circle chamber orchestra will perform an evening of holiday music Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

If You Go
What: Holiday Serenade 2016
Who: Maricopa Music Circle
When: Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Black Box Theatre, MHS Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $15/adults, $7.50/children under 14
Info: MaricopaMusicCircle@yahoo.com, 520-316-6268

Titled “Holiday Serenade 2016,” the spirited, full-length evening program is presented by Maricopa Arts Council and will be held at the Black Box Theatre at MHS Performing Arts Center.

“Holiday Serenade 2016” celebrates the holiday’s reflective mood as well as its splendor and joy. Music includes classic carols, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and two solo turns performed by soprano Theresa Judkins, before the evening closes in celebration with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Program highlights includes two Maricopa firsts in which solo spotlights abound:

■ Two movements from Maurice Ravel’s orchestral version of his own haunting Tombeau de Couperin feature the composer’s favorite instrument, the oboe.
■ The regional premiere of J. S. Bach’s entire Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. The Brandenburg offers a perfect showcase for MMC – being an “orchestra of soloists” – since it is a concerto for two flutes and one solo violin.

The evening will conclude with light refreshments for the audience and performers, offering a perfect chance to mingle with the musicians.

Founded in 2010 originally as a small ensemble, MMC is unique because it performs standard orchestral music and popular favorites entirely without a conductor. Every MMC performer from piccolo to tuba serves as coach and supervisor several times each season, and the orchestra produces a rich, colorful and true symphonic sound.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

The Maricopa Chorus will be in costume for part of Friday's concert.

The Maricopa Chorus will perform its annual Christmas Concert Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.

If You Go
What: Maricopa Chorus Christmas Concert
When: Dec. 9, 7 p.m.
Where: Global Water, 22590 N. Powers Parkway
How much: $10
Info: Facebook.com/MaricopaChorus

This year’s venue is the atrium at Global Water.

Along with holiday songs and carols, a highlight of the concert will be a sing-along of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Concert-goers will have the opportunity to join in this holiday classic as well as And the Glory of the Lord.

Guest artists for the concert will be Maricopa Music Circle. Tickets are available at the door for $10.

This concert is part of a series of holiday performances in Maricopa, including Merry Copa, DSPA Sugar Plum Tea and Maricopa Music Circle holiday concert. The Chorus has provided caroling at Merry Copa in recent years. Chorus members will be dressed in traditional caroling costumes for the opening of the Dec. 9 concert, when they will sing traditional carols.

The concert will also include contemporary songs and jazz versions of carols. Chorus director John Janzen chose the venue at Global Water because of its excellent acoustics.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Tonya Thacker danced to "Piece by Piece" as the grand finale of the Performing Arts Gala. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Musicians with Maricopa Music Circle, singers with the Maricopa Chorus and dancers from Desert Sun Performing Arts presented the inaugural Performing Arts Gala Oct. 22 at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been entertaining for 23 years and sold over 2 million albums. They will be in Maricopa Oct. 28.

When swing-style music made a comeback in the mid-1990s, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was on the frontlines. With a modern take on the Big Band sound of the ‘40s and a memorable name, the band hit at the right time, but they did not just ride the wave of a passing fad.

If You Go
Who: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
When: Oct. 28, 8 p.m.
Where: The Lounge at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 N. Maricopa Road
How much: Free
Info: Caesars.com/Harrahs-Ak-Chin

Drummer Kurt Sodergren, who co-founded the band with lead vocalist/songwriter Scotty Morris, said they started the conversation in the late ‘90s to orchestrate BBVD’s approach to longevity if and when the retro swing craze passed.

“We knew our fan base wasn’t fickle, and we always reach out in the meet-and-greets after shows,” Sodergren said. “Our music makes them happy and keeps them coming back.”

BBVD has also branched out, performing with symphonies and in performing arts settings.

To keep their hardcore fans and create new ones, the band has the motto of “Yes.” They accept most invitations to perform that they can fit in their schedule of 150 shows a year.

“We’re trying to play in a lot of new venues,” Sodergren said.

That now includes Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, where Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will be playing in The Lounge on Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.

Morris, who has a lifelong love of swing and jazz and plays a mean blues guitar, originally started the band in 1989. He named it for a signature he received from guitar legend Albert Collins, whose autograph included the phrase “To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy.”

After Morris joined forces with Sodergren, BBVD was re-launched in 1993 in Ventura, California. They were part of an underground swing movement in the Los Angeles area, where they called the Derby nightclub home.

Sondergren, originally from Pontiac, Michigan, mainly grew up in Ventura. His grandfather was a saxophonist in big bands in the ‘40s, including with the U.S. Army during World War II. Kurt’s father had an impressive record collection that exposed young Kurt to the bands of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.

 

He started playing drums with the school band because “it was the only thing that wasn’t being played.”

After hearing the Benny Goodman Orchestra’s renowned 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall, Sodergren was floored by Gene Krupa’s work on the drums. “They didn’t even need to have the music,” he said.

Krupa always remains an influence, as do others like John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, who himself was influenced by Big Band-era drummers.

The deep well of swing and jazz comprehension from Morris and Sodergren combined with the classical training of their bandmates gave BBVD a well-balanced attack.

With its music highlighted in the cult film Swingers, BBVD leaped onto the national stage in 1996. At the same time, bands like Flying Neutrinos, Squirrel Nut Zippers and the ska band Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were using a retro sound on the rising tide of neo swing.

BBVD parlayed that into more than 2 million album sales, starting with their eponymous album in 1994. Sodergren said they have finished recording their 10th studio album, a tribute to the music of Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Louis Prima. It is due out next year.

The touring band is filled out by Joshua Levy on piano, Antony Bonsera on lead trumpet, Dirk Shumaker on bass, Glen “The Kid” Marhevka on trumpet, Karl Hunter on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones and clarinet, Andy Rowley on baritone sax and Alex Henderson on trombone.

They make a point of staying after a performance to meet with the crowd.

“We have really friendly guys in the band who are fun to hang out with,” Sodergren said.

Thanks to a grant from Gila River Indian Community, the award-winning MHS Marching Band will get a uniform upgrade an other improvements. Photo by William Lange

Like any school program, Maricopa High School Marching Band has a lot of needs.

The growing student population means a shortage of uniforms. Contest judges consistently comment the band needs more sousaphones to give the band a richer undertone. The drum line is well past its prime and showing it.

When prioritizing, it was decided new uniforms were No. 1 on the list. That became the focus of fund-raising over the past couple of years.

The other issues, like the aging drum line and a shortage of sousaphones, were set back with hopes of finding funding later.

An announcement this week by the Gila River Indian Community, however, could check all of those items off the wish list.

Uniforms themselves are very expensive. While the band members were rounding up about $5,000 a year, it was still well below what was necessary.

“We knew we needed to do a lot more than that,” MHS Music Director Ivan Pour said.

The entire district is under a tight budget, though it has done what it can to help the music department. Last year’s agreement with the district to match the department’s fund-raising efforts brought the total to almost $30,000 to buy more than 100 uniforms.

The band will be able to buy more instruments, hats and uniform pants with the grant funding. Photo by William Lange
The band will be able to buy more instruments, hats and uniform pants with the grant funding. Photo by William Lange

The uniforms did not include proper marching-band hats. This year, in debuting their new uniforms, the band members have been wearing baseball caps. There is also a shortage of uniform pants.

Parent Carol Shrock heard about grants available from Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and Ak-Chin Indian Community. Such community grants from gaming funds often go to police, libraries and food banks. A marching band seemed a novelty for that program, but Pour suddenly became a grant-writer.

The first grant due was from the GRIC. The band director had a week to fill out the application and submit it. This was near the end of the girls’ basketball season, and Pour filled out paperwork on the bus as the band traveled to Glendale in musical support of the team.

It was the beginning of a seven-month process. Gaming contributions must go through cities and counties. MHS Marching Band partnered with Pinal County and had to get that body’s approval, too.

Wednesday, Pour was informed the Gila River Community Council had voted unanimously to approve a grant for $75,000. It will be paid over two years to the Maricopa High School Band Infrastructure Project.

“This is very exciting for the MHS band program,” Pour said. “This will help improve our performance.”

Though he has not yet been able to speak with a GRIC representative about the grant, Pour believes the band’s reputation had the attention of the council, and the growth of the band has included more GRIC members.

In the notification to the school district, Program Director for the Gila River Office of Special Funding Cheryl Pablo stated, “We will begin processing the award immediately and an official award letter will be sent out as soon as we have it signed by Governor [Stephen Roe] Lewis. I would like to offer my personal congratulations to your organization and look forward to our continued working relationship!”

Pour said the funds will not only allow the band to buy 60-90 pairs of uniform pants, hats and plumes for everyone and the hat boxes to put them in but also will meet the other needs that have been on the back burner.

Normally, pieces of drum line are replaced every six years. MHS band’s drum line is more than 10 years old. The sets were already used when the school purchased them in 2006.

“Some are in rough shape,” Pour said. “Harnesses are starting to give. We’ve done a good job making them last.”

The funding will allow the school to replace that drum line.

Then there are the sousaphones, or marching tubas. The band has been using three tubas, a paltry number for a top-of-the-line marching band. The small-bore tubas are actually meant for orchestra use. Pour said the result of the grant will be seven sousaphones on the field, and the orchestra tubas will be able to go back inside.

The band has not had enough spare instruments to rent to parents who do not buy. Renting from stores can be $20-$50 a month, depending on the instrument. As the school’s music department picks up a few more pieces, parents will be able to rent at a fraction of the store costs.

“We really feel strongly our district supports our program tremendously,” Pour said. “They’ve always tried to do what they can.”

Along with huge gratitude to GRIC, he thanked the district and the county for coordinating the grant process.

Saturday, the MHS Marching Band will perform at the Arizona Marching Band Association (AZMBA) Mesquite Show along with 11 other bands. Oct. 22, the Rams will be in the Sounds along the San Tans Marching Invitational at Basha High School.

Marching-Rams-2016-17

Art filled the meeting rooms at the district offices during the MUSD Art Walk. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Unified School District hosted the fourth annual district-wide Art Walk at the district office May 5.

It was the biggest show to date, with hundreds of pieces from all schools and all ages on display. There was also art from teachers and other staff members. First through third place ribbons were awarded in the different school levels.

High school and middle school bands and choirs performed in the courtyard behind the building.

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Chance Ackerson plays the tuba with Maricopa High School Marching Band, but he plays many other instruments, too. (MUSD photo)

By Hayley Bates

Junior tubist Chance Ackerson represented Maricopa High School at the Arizona Music Educators Association’s annual Central Region Band, Orchestra and Choir Concert at Mountain View High in Mesa in February.

“Chance did a tremendous job as did the rest of the band! It was a great weekend with a great clinician, tuba virtuoso Pat Sheridan,” MHS Music Director and Fine Art Chair Ivan Pour said.

Introduced to music at age 4 by his mom, Chance decided to pursue playing when he was 9. His mom, a musician and music teacher, was adamant about him playing, so he started with the trombone and switched to tuba a year later.

He also plays baritone, piano, flute and organ among other instruments. His plate may be full, but that doesn’t stop him. Chance is currently learning to play the cello.

Being in band for seven years, he said he wanted to play the tuba for MHS since that was an instrument they didn’t already have. His favorite part of being in band is leading sectionals. Not only did he get “Best Band Student of the Year” in middle school, but he also recently had a chance to audition for the All-State Band. Chance also plays tuba for Maricopa Music Circle.

All that hard work is paying off. Though he did not make the All-State Band, when asked if he would do it again, Chance said, “Playing with the regional band was quite the learning experience. It was really fun, so I would definitely like to try again next year.”

With all of his experience, Chance wants to pursue a career in music. Being most proficient in tuba or string bass, those would be what he would like to play. Not only does he play an abundance of instruments, but he also wants to work in Cyber Security.


Hayley Bates is a student at Maricopa High School. This story appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Alice in Wonderland on the horizon

A 10-year Maricopa resident, Judith Lang Zaimont has composed more than 100 works. Photo by Gary Zaimont.

Maricopa composer Judith Lang Zaimont is getting her share of honors this fall. The founder of Maricopa Music Circle (MMC) has a newly released album and new videos posted while her works are being played around the world.

Just released at the end of October, her CD Pure, Cool (Water) is a five-movement symphony performed by the Janacek Philharmonic led by Niels Muus. Her composition premiered in a Vienna concert in 2014.

It was written entirely in Maricopa. Zaimont said it is in part inspired by Arizona’s efforts to conserve water.

“Concerns about access to potable water and water conservation around the world were front and center in my family growing up, and this piece is very, very personal for me,” she said.

It was commissioned by the Sorel Organization in presenting Zaimont with its 2014 Commissioned Composer award. Sorel was founded “to create opportunities for women in composition, conducting, piano, voice and film scoring.”

In celebration of Zaimont’s 70th birthday, an evening of Zaimont’s music will be heard at New York’s Symphony Space in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater on Nov. 7. Five of her most-played chamber works will be performed in a concert entitled “Celebrating the Music of Judith Lang Zaimont.”

Performers include flutist Immanuel Davis, pianist Joanne Polk and other musicians from Juilliard.

In Hong Kong on Nov. 8, a complete concert of her piano works is scheduled for Hong Kong City Hall by Dr. Him Wong, director of the Dufy Atelier des Artistes et Musiciens. Music to be performed includes selections from Jupiter’s Moons, In My Lunchbox and A Calendar Set (12 Virtuosic Preludes).

Wong has commissioned Zaimont to create a solo piano piece based on a chapter from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for its 150 anniversary. It will be joined with 10 other short works from around the world and 11 paintings by Chinese artists for a traveling exhibit in 2016.

“The piece is meant to introduce the magical, non-rational whimsy of Wonderland and will be interpreted visually by an artist from China or Croatia,” Zaimont said. The exhibit is “meant to introduce young people to the special atmosphere and characters of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

“I’ve already begun by re-reading both ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass.’ Once I’m back from travels, this new work is front-and-center until MMC’s Holiday Concert events are upon us.”

Zaimont’s Sonata-Rhapsody for Violin and Piano (another work composed in Maricopa) will be world-premiered on Nov. 14 by Boston New Music Initiative. The event takes place at the Clarendon Hill Church in Somerville, Massachusetts.

“Reading through one of its movements with talented violinist Genevieve Ehrbright directly stimulated the formation of Maricopa Music Circle in 2010,” Zaimont said.

A new series of online videos featuring her work has begun to be posted this fall. New York videographer Michael Bregman has interpreted Zaimont’s compositions, beginning with Elegy for Symphonic Strings, which can be found on YouTube.com.

It’s not the first time he has used her compositions, earlier bringing her husband, artist Gary Zaimont, into the act. “About six years ago he began to interpret my music visually, frequently pairing it with paintings by Gary, thus freshly interpreting two arts originally created for quite separate reasons,” Judith Zaimont said. “The new series will add in some of my more playful music. I’ve been writing concert versions of ragtime since the late ’70s.”

Zaimont has lived in Maricopa 10 years. She is a finalist in the American Prize in Chamber Music Competition for the string quartet The Figure. It was commissioned by the Andrew Mellon Foundation grant for premiere by the Harlem Quartet in 2008.

This story was published in the November issue of InMaricopa News.

Russ Marsh has made a living in country and patriotic music. Photo by William Lange

Writing a patriotic tune is a tricky business. There is always the danger of sounding jingoistic or smug when the intent is to be inspirational.

For Maricopa singer-songwriter Russ Marsh, penning red, white and blue songs has been a career mainstay and a natural outflow of his beliefs. It was an organic process that developed from his abiding love of country and came to fruition during his days in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He penned a couple of tunes that were decidedly nationalistic during the divisive Vietnam War years. By the luck of the draw, he was stationed stateside as a lance corporal while friends were sent to Vietnam. Caught up in the national conversation about the U.S. Constitution, he felt inspired to write “Keepers of the Flame.”

“We are the keepers, keepers of the flame,
Can we pass the torch tomorrow, and will they know what it means?”

While his country songs are often playful or lovelorn, his patriotic music can be a tutorial for those not brought up with knowledge of American symbolism or even proper flag etiquette.

“There is a lot of meaning that goes with our symbols,” he says.

When the American flag was desecrated in a viral video, Marsh posted his own video on YouTube, challenging others to create selfie videos of why the flag is important to them. For himself, it was a song that had become a staple of his repertoire, “Don’t Tread on Old Glory.”

“Lookin’ back through the years there was blood, sweat and tears fightin’ for Old Glory.
So many have died keeping freedom alive, don’t lose Old Glory.”

“It is his way to express his love for the flag and to educate through the social media,” says Cathy Marsh, his wife of four years.

A songwriter from his youth when he was influenced by Hank Snow and Elvis Presley, Marsh served with the Marines from 1969 to 1970 and returned home to his father’s Utah farm to work. Even with a growing family of his own at home, his restless spirit kept drawing him away, as he played gigs around the country and tried to find his niche.

Marsh recorded some tunes and also ended up rubbing elbows with some big names in country music. He ultimately rubbed elbows with a big name in the country – the President of the United States.

With his country/folk songs of the 1970s, he shared a variety of stages with Hank Thompson, Mel Tillis, Tex Williams and Marty Robbins. Of the latter, he says, “He was so kind and good even to me.” By chance in the studio at the time, Marsh was lucky enough to hear a reel-to-reel version of El Paso City before it was recorded.

Marsh got enough attention from his patriotic tunes that he was asked to write a song for the bicentennial year of 1976. “But nothing seemed to come together,” he says.

In 1977, “America Forever” finally found form. That earned him an invitation to perform for President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter at the White House.

“He was nice. She was really nice,” Marsh says.

“America Forever, forever you will see –
The stars and stripes forever
In the land of liberty.”

In the meantime, Marsh’s minor celebrity status in Utah took an odd and unforeseen detour that connected him to death row inmate Gary Gilmore.

Country music station KSOP in Salt Lake City kept Marsh’s music on its playlist. One of those songs was the ballad “Walking in the Footsteps of Your Mind” from 1976. As Gilmore’s execution date drew near, the KSOP general manager informed Marsh that Gilmore was a fan of the song, getting prison staff to call in and request it.

Gilmore would become the first man in 10 years to be executed in the United States. On the evening of his death by firing squad on Jan. 17, 1977, Gilmore again asked the staff to call in his musical request, and again it was “Walking in the Footsteps of Your Mind.”

“When the wind kissed the water and the waves took you away,
Now I’m drowning from the memories of today.”

Author Norman Mailer referenced the song in his account of the evening in “The Executioner’s Song,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

“I had mixed emotions about the whole thing,” Marsh says.

The attention in the middle of national debate on the death penalty boosted the radio play of his song locally and across the country.

Marsh had grown up playing music with his siblings. More recently he performed with his grown children as the band Marsh.

But music is a different industry now and getting airplay isn’t as simple as bringing in a reel-to-reel for a radio station manager to listen to. Marsh says there was far less politics involved before it became so commercial.

“It didn’t matter who you were, they treated each other the same, especially in country music,” Marsh says. “You felt more free, and you at least had the opportunity to send in your songs.”

These days he’s found a place on the Digital Music Registry and the Indie Charts. He has also settled into Maricopa and made his own home studio. This month, on its first week, “We’re American Made” was No. 50 on the National Airplay Top 50 Country Chart. It was also No. 8 the National Top Independent and No. 170 on the National Top 200 Chart.

He was living in San Tan Valley when he met Cathy online at LDSPlanet.com. Both had been hesitant about the concept. Living in Malaysia, divorced with two children, Cathy had a plan to avoid the weirdoes and scammers and other hazards of online dating.

“I prayed and I felt inspired to formulate 48 questions they had to answer,” she says. “That was pretty good screening.” After a year without finding anyone with that kind of fortitude, she left the site. She did not know her page stayed up.

At the same time, a friend of Russ sent him to the site to look at a particular person’s profile. Russ didn’t feel the sparks there but scrolled over a couple of other profiles and discovered Cathy. He made contact. She sent her questions.

In 48 hours he sent back her 48 questions.

“I thought, ‘Oops, this is unexpected,’” Cathy says. A correspondence began, and Cathy looked up his music. She says she fell for his music first.

“I really connect with the music,” she says. “I felt his music really had to be heard.”

Russ wrote Cathy a love song that ended up on one of his albums, “I Never Knew Love Until I Met You.”

“I never knew love could be so true
Until I fell in love with you”

One of his three albums, “A-M-E-R-I-C-A,” is a compilation of mostly patriotic tunes, from his time in the Marines to his still fervent flag-waving sentiments of today.

“I’ve worked as a farmer and I’ve had other jobs making countertops and cabinets,” Marsh says, “but I’ve got to do this music.”