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Desert Wind Middle School students are conducted by Roger Wagner. Photos by Kyle Norby

The fifth annual Music-a-Thon hosted by Maricopa Unified School District was Saturday, featuring student musicians from high school and the middle schools. Ivan Pour, Roger Wagner and Tanya Hobt conducted the orchestras through the five-hour event at the Performing Arts Center.

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Submitted photo

By Ivan Pour
MHS Band and Orchestra Director

Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, the Maricopa High School Marching Rams performed in Arizona Band and Orchestra Director’s Association (ABODA) competitions at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe and Ironwood Ridge High School in Tucson.

The band finished in seventh place at Corona Del Sol with a score of 57.575. The band turned things around quickly at Ironwood Ridge, finishing in fourth place with a big one week jump in score to 64.313. The average of these two scores put the Rams into the top 20 bands in ABODA’s Division II. The Rams will advance to the State Marching Band Festival this Saturday, Nov. 3, at Hamilton High School. The Marching Rams perform at 3 p.m.

The band had its best performance of the year to date at Ironwood Ridge High School, highlighted by earning second place in the music caption and third place in percussion. They earned praise for good characteristic tone and balance and creating shape in musical lines. The band also posted significant gains in the visual performance caption. This performance truly showed off the hard work our students have put in this year.

We invite the Maricopa community out to the state festival on Saturday to cheer on the Rams! Admission to the event is $10 and children under 5 are free.

As always, we want to acknowledge our awesome, hard working parent volunteers as well as our staff – Roger Wagner – Assistant Director, Eliana Araiza – Colorguard, David Hales – Percussion Head, Stuart Delaney – Front Ensemble. Without these people, our success this year would not be possible!

In addition to ABODA State Festival, the Marching Rams will support the football team for their playoff game at Williams Field High School on Friday, Nov. 2, and they will perform in the Maricopa Veterans Day Parade and AzMBA Championships at Perry High School on Nov. 10.

We also have our “Pass in Review” concert in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Thank you for your support of the Maricopa Marching Rams and the Arts in MUSD.

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Maricopa High School students performing in Gila Bend. Submitted photo

Saturday, the Maricopa High School Band, Theater Company and Technical Theater programs participated in the Town of Gila Bend’s Light Parade and “Santa in the Park” event.

The event was planned and overseen by former MHS Assistant Principal Krista Vandermolen, now director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Gila Bend.

The MHS programs were the spirit of the event. Technical Theater, along with teacher Kevin Piquette, built a float and mobile sound station for the parade and provided sound and announcements for the event. The Theater Company performed “Twelve Days to Christmas” from She Loves Me, and the Marching Rams marched in the parade and also performed a 20-minute concert of pep band and holiday music as part of the evening’s festivities at the park.

“We want to thank the Town of Gila Bend for inviting us to be a part of this wonderful event,” Music Director Ivan Pour said. “It was great to be able to share the success and wonderful programs we have at Maricopa High School with our neighbors in Gila Bend.”


Earlier this semester, the Technical Theater program competed at the Arizona State Thespian Festival. The team took third out of 60 schools. In the Skills USA competition, MHS placed second.

Marisa Lopez won the “quick knot tying” portion of the competition by tying all three knots in 5.56 seconds.  This was over 1 second faster than her nearest competitor. Other team members were Hyrum Sherwood, Connor Paine, Eric Bennett, Skylar Dugan, Ashley Piet, Yazmin Calleros and Keilani Hlebasko.

Technical Theater students were third out of 60 schools at the state Thespian Festival.


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The Maricopa High School Marching Rams are in the middle of competition season, earning awards and high ratings.

Led by Director Ivan Pour, the Rams had their second competitive performance of the year at the AzMBA Mesquite “Rainer Classic” on Oct. 7. The Rams took third place in the 4A class and showed significant improvement in scores awarded by the judges.

The band performed on Oct. 21 at University of Arizona Band Day in Tucson. The band earned the second-highest rating of Excellent for their performance. The band earned praise for achieving a good overall ensemble sound and having moments of exceptional execution in both musical and visual performance.

In addition to the rated festival, the band got to hear from student leaders of the “Pride of Arizona” marching band and was treated to a closing performance of the UofA Band prior to the awards ceremony.

“These University Band Days are always wonderful opportunities to expose our students to what musical opportunities are available to continue their music education in college. It is also a way the MHS Band program supports our ‘College and Career’ academic focus,” Pour said. “We are proud to have attended band days at all three state universities in the last three years – UA in 2017, NAU in 2016 and ASU in 2015.”

The Band performs next for the annual powder puff football game on Monday, Oct. 23, the MHS Senior night football game vs. McClintock on Oct. 27 as well as in the ABODA “Marching at the Mountain” Invitational at Mesa Mountain View High School on Oct. 28. MHS Marching Rams take the field at 8 p.m.

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.

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MHS tuba players Katherine Espinoza and Chance Ackerson. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Band and Orchestra Programs had 11 students audition for the Arizona Music Educators’ Association Central Region Honor Band and Orchestra on Saturday at Desert Ridge High School in Mesa.

Tuba player Chance Ackerson was named to the region band for the second straight year.
Tuba player Katherine Espinoza was named second alternate and will be called up to perform if needed.

Music Instructor Ivan Pour stated, “This is an extremely rigorous audition process. Students have to prepare three etudes, perform 2 scales (chosen by judges), and sight read. Our region is one of the most competitive in the state with many large and successful music programs in it, including all the Gilbert district high schools, Mesa Mountain View, and many others. This is a big accomplishment for these students. Please congratulate them!”

The rehearsals for the band will be Feb. 17-18 at Mesa Mountain View High School, with the performance of the region, orchestra, band and choir at 2:30 on Feb. 18 also at Mountain View. The band clinician this year is AMEA President Jennifer Hamilton.

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Chamber Orchestra was decked out in holiday finery for Pass in Review. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School Music Department presented its “Pass in Review” concert Dec. 6 with performances by the Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Marching Rams, Choir and Varsity Choir.

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MHS chamber orchestra in performance at ABODA. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Chamber Orchestra performed in the ABODA Fall Orchestra Festival on Oct. 21 at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.

The orchestra performed admirably earning a rating of “Excellent,” the second highest available. The students earned praise for creating a good sound and balance. The orchestra also had a wonderful clinic with Brian Murphy, orchestra director at Mesa Community College. The clinic covered matching playing styles across the ensemble and playing in contrasting styles.

“We are very proud of our orchestra students and we are looking forward to another great year of performances,” Director of Instrumental Music and Fine Arts Department Chair Ivan Pour said.

The orchestra will perform again at the Fall Music “Pass in Review” concert in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

MHS-concert-band-ABODA2

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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.

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The MHS Orchestra was "Excellent" at the ABODA Fall Festival. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Orchestra earned an “Excellent” rating Oct. 3 at the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) Fall Festival.

“The highlight of the day was a wonderful clinic with retired Texas music educator and noted clinician Ruth Kurtis. The orchestra worked with Ms. Kurtis on understanding more about the historical and cultural underpinnings of their music as well as some fun ways to improve finger placement and technique,”  MHS Director of Instrumental Music Ivan Pour said.

The orchestra will next perform at the MHS Music Program “Pass in Review” Concert on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

Maricopa High School Orchestra. Submitted photo
Maricopa High School Orchestra. Submitted photo