Gilpin County Middle School and High School Music and Art
By Patty Unruh
Middle school and high school students from Gilpin County showed off what they could do musically and artistically on May 8 before an enthusiastic audience of their families and peers. A good-sized crowd braved the mix of rain and snow to appreciate the results of months of practicing songs and working on drawing and sculpting.
Prior to the concert, folks browsed among a variety of colorful art that had turned the atrium and hallways into a gallery of creative expression. The talented young people’s clay sculptures included cleverly crafted animals, vases, plant and toothbrush holders, plates, bowls, and boats. The middle school and high school wall art included skillfully done sketches of nature and animals, mythical creatures, abstracts, and portraits in color and black and white.
Gary Haarbye, music teacher for pre-K through twelfth grade, welcomed the audience to the concert by saying that it had been an exhausting but good year. A couple of the musicians were out with illnesses and injuries, and some of the students had been participating in an outdoor education campout in Estes Park, which precluded having a dress rehearsal, but Haarbye noted, “That’s what music is – the show must go on.”
Prior to the performances, Haarbye took time to thank those who had come to the school the previous Friday for a concert benefitting Casen Turkaly, performed by the band Raven, a group of four Gilpin County students. He said another concert for Casen will be held on Saturday, May 25 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Roy’s Last Shot and will include an all-you-can-eat barbeque. “Hopefully, science can create a miracle,” Haarbye said, referencing Casen’s illness, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome.
He then led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by a moment of silence to honor America’s veterans.
Curt Halsted, the school’s art instructor, also addressed the crowd. “It has been an honor to work with Mr. Haarbye,” he said. “He has brought inspiration to the arts here with his caring and compassion.” Halsted called for a standing ovation for Haarbye, and the audience complied with approval. Halsted then referred to the art display in the atrium and hallways and mentioned that some of the students’ clay pieces had been selected for a summer art show.
The musical portion of the evening began with the middle school band, which performed a selection from “Shrek,” composed by John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams. The band was made up of traditional instrumentation, plus a violin, cello, and electronic keyboard.
The high school choir performed three numbers. First was a Bill Withers tune from the 1960’s, arranged by Adam Anders and Tim Davis, entitled “Lean on Me.” The six choir members, directed and accompanied by Haarbye on keyboard, were all coordinated in black slacks. Many of us – if we could sing as well as the young people – could have sung along to the lyrics we recall: “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”
The group continued the theme of supporting others with “Stand by Me,” a number with words and music by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, and Ben E. King and arranged by Roger Emerson. “Whenever you’re in trouble, won’t you stand by me, oh, stand by me,” they sang.
The choir concluded with a Beatles tune, “Eleanor Rigby.” Haarbye noted wryly, “We can’t get away from them [the Beatles],” and Christopher Bleske-Good, one of the choir members put in, “But that’s a good thing!” to laughter from the audience.
Fourteen members of the middle school choir entertained next with three songs, the first of which was also by the Beatles, “Imagine.” The group followed up with “I Won’t Give Up,” by Jason Mraz and Michael Natter and arranged by Roger Emerson. The lighting went funky at that point, dimming the stage and highlighting the audience. Apparently, a power surge due to the weather was possibly to blame, but the kids were real troopers and just kept right on. The lyrics were appropriate enough: “Well, I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough. I’m giving you all my love. I’m still looking up.”
The high school choir then joined the middle schoolers for a popular tune by the group Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing.” The singers belted out, “Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin.’” The group emphasized the feelin’ as they concluded the number with a bold “Stop!” hand gesture.
The closing performance was by the girls from the middle school choir, who had choreographed a dance to the Alex Clare tune “Too Close.” The young ladies, all coordinated in jeans, matching black sleeveless tops, and sneakers, deftly strutted their stuff to the powerful beat under flashing colored lights.
Lindsey James, one of the performers, said the girls had all painted their own “Mountain Madness” shirts, which had the words “Girls Choir 2013” and each girl’s personal nickname on the back. She said the group had been practicing their dance since January.
Middle school band members are: Chase Besiallon, Austin Boulter, Blaizun Diamond-Valli, Jakob Duncan, Jada Gohdes, Rhiannon Hietala, Uriah Hockley, Cheyenne Jackson, Skye Jamison, Tyler Krug, Alessandro Lauria, Cooper Lindberg, Kaitlyn Marr, Lauryn Parkhurst, Michaela Peterson, Zachary Schell, Rachel Schmalz, Keely Schmidt, Kristi Schmidt, Alex Shumaker, Tyler Stevens, Justin Stundon, Joshua Trujillo, Carissa Wiggen, and Anna Yocom.
Middle school choir members are: Eve Bauman, Devyn Braning, Zsatira Diamond-Valli, Cheyenne Jackson, Lindsey James, Carly Johnson, Breanna Kennedy, Cicely Lepro, Alexis Marquez, Aspen Nadeau, Andrew Robinson, Kristi Schmidt, Lilia Silverman, Tyler Stevens, and Carissa Wiggen.
The high school choir members are: McKenzie Altaffer, Christopher Bleske-Good, Cameryn Cullar, Ariel Planck, Siera Planck, and Stephanie Siegrist.