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The Artesia High School marching band plays “Hey Baby” during the Balloons & Tunes Fire Concert Saturday night at Eagle Draw. A trio of hot air balloons accompanied the band, firing their burners along with the music. (Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)

The Artesia High School marching band plays “Hey Baby” during the Balloons & Tunes Fire Concert Saturday night at Eagle Draw. A trio of hot air balloons accompanied the band, firing their burners along with the music. (Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

Drum major Michael Hope leads the band during its season preview at Bulldog Bowl. (Courtesy Photo)

Drum major Michael Hope leads the band during its season preview at Bulldog Bowl. (Courtesy Photo)

Every four years, the Artesia High School band is eligible to try out for the prestigious award that is New Mexico Honor Band. This year marks the third time AHS has won the designation in the past 15 years.

Honor Band tryouts consist of judges listening to a recorded CD of bands from high schools around the state. On each CD is the previous school year’s contest music.

“These kids have been really dedicated to practicing for the Honor Band concert,” said Lisa Dillon, band director. “Students have been practicing on their own time and outside of school hours to prepare.”

The AHS band will perform four pieces at the upcoming Honor Band concert in January. The first is “Joyride,” composed by Michael Markowski, which takes motives of “Ode to Joy” and transfers the sound through the different instrument sections throughout the duration of the song. Dillon says she is dedicating this song to the seniors in band who graduated last year.

Second is “Blue and Green Music,” composed by Samuel Hazo, a song based on Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1921 painting of the same name.

Third will be “Symphonic Dance #3 (Fiesta),” composed by Clifton Williams. This song starts and ends with fun, upbeat melodies but has a “slowed-down, walk-in-the-park, siesta-type” bridge in the middle.

The last song the band will play will be “Kiefer’s Special,” composed by William Kiefer, which, according to Dillon, “is a fun march.”

The Honor Band concert will begin at 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. Knowing not everyone who wants to make the Honor Band concert will be able to do so, Dillon has decided to offer Honor Band programs at the Artesia Public Schools bands’ Winter Concert at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the AHS Auditorium. Programs will feature pictures and names of the students.

Dillon is also excited to announce Michael Hope, a trumpet player and drum major for the marching band, as the winner of the Conducting and Leadership Award at the Texas Tech University Band and Orchestra Camp this past summer.

“The drum major is the one who shows the rest of the band the way,” said Dillon. “He was able to display discipline, leadership, and his skill in conducting. I’m very proud of him in his efforts.” The award is given to the top drum major at the camp and is chosen among drum majors from Texas and New Mexico.

“It was really humbling to get this award as a first-year drum major, since there were other drum majors there who had been doing this for a couple years,” said Hope. “It was really good experience learning with and from the others. We all brought something different to the table.”