Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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Page 87 of 107

88 I Music Scene Competing against the best of the best is a big deal in the band world. Directors and stu- dents are continually preparing to showcase their music and their performance styles. Beyond those coveted bragging rights, competi- tion recognizes the educators that lead the programs, validates the hard work the student musicians put in all year long, and, perhaps most importantly, puts students on the college recruitment radar. In this region, the band directors stress the importance of student selection to two local programs: NMSU's Tournament of Bands and Southwest Honor Band. Currently in its 37th year, the Tournament of Bands draws in high school bands from all over New Mexico, western Texas, and even Oklahoma and Colorado. Around 35 bands perform at the Pan Am Center for a cheering crowd of 15,000 spectators. Ingrid Larragoity-Martin, NMSU Associate Director of Instrumental Studies, says of the competition, "It's really a pageant for these bands, a culmination of the year." Seven well-respected musical professionals from around the country evaluate the ensembles in both music and visual effects. Of the 30-odd bands in the running, 10 make it from the preliminary round to the finals. Bands practice all year for the seven to nine minute performances, and the final champions earn major bragging rights. For individual musicians, NMSU began Southwest Honor Band in the early 1980s with a mission of bringing the best high school play- ers together under a well-known performer for a professional-level performance. Of the almost 500 applicants from around the Southwest each year, only 120 are selected. Students audition a piece of music, which is judged by NMSU professors in the appropri- ate field. Selected applicants attend master classes on campus and con- certs. Colleges naturally pay a lot of attention to a student selected to Southwest Honor Band. In the end, these programs exist because the people who run them love music and want to instill that same love in the next generation of college musicians. NMSU faculty and students, many of them former participants in either or both pro- grams, volunteer their time to plan and manage these events. Southwest Honor Band in particu- lar, relies on donations from the community for its continued suc- cess. Specifically, the program is looking for donations to attract national-level conductors. All this work, all this time, is for the community as a whole—to remind us that music and the arts are what bring us together and make us whole. Chris Hughes, NMSU Director of Instrumental Studies, puts it well: "The arts are essential to the development of a complete child. We all need an appreciation of aesthetic beauty." ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| The Competitive Spirit FYI Attend the next Tournament of Bands November 7, 2015 8 am - 11 pm Aggie Memorial Stadium Contact Ingrid Larragoity-Mar tin, 575-646-2304, for more information. To learn more about Southwest Honor Band, contact the NMSU Depar tment of Music, 575-646- 2421, or visit

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