Durango High tuning up for money

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Katharine Reed directs the Durango High School band on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Monday’s fundraising dinner and concert.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Things are looking up for the Durango High School instrumental music program, but progress doesn’t come cheap.

Two years ago, the student marching band had fewer than 10 members, and the rolls of other groups like the concert and jazz bands were equally sparse. This year, the second under Director of Instrumental Music Katherine Reed, there has been an explosion of popularity; more than 50 students now play in the three ensembles, and Reed expects the number to keep rising. It is the largest the band has been in eight years.

“What I’ve been going through is massive growing pains,” Reed said.

She’s not complaining, but there are realities to such growth. It means there’s a need for more instruments and more travel expenses – in short, they need more. The young musicians will help themselves Monday night with a fundraising dinner and concert at the school.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s come together – the students have been preparing for months,” Reed said.

The evening will feature a sit-down dinner served by members of the student orchestra and concert band. They will then perform a concert conducted by Arkady Fomin, maestro of Conservatory Music in the Mountains, who is flying in from Dallas to work with the students for several days. The jazz band will play during dinner, joined by local impresario and Fort Lewis College instructor Jeff Solon, who has been working with Reed’s students for several months.

“My take is that with the new director, it was rekindling from a low point,” Solon said. “I thought there’s no reason in Durango that music shouldn’t be outrageous in the public schools, so I lent a hand to see how it went. It’s a labor of love, and I want to support jazz.”

Solon is able to spend time with the students because of three grants from local organizations. The Durango Instrumental Boosters Club is a group of more than 20 parents who wrote and secured the grant funding from the Durango Friends of the Arts, the Durango Foundation for Educational Excellence and the Fort Lewis College Foundation.

“The Booster Club took it up on their own, and it makes it a lot easier for me to do it, but I’d be there anyway,” Solon said.

Solon composed the centerpiece that the jazz band will debut Monday: “Kat’n Around.” The band also will perform the piece at its upcoming competitions this year and next. The title is a nod to Reed, of whom Solon is a big fan.

“She’s doing great, and I can’t say enough about her. The kids adore her and she’s amazing at recruiting. It’s her personality that’s turned it all around,” he said.

Reed said the immediate fundraising goal is about $5,000, which would cover the cost of sending the orchestra on a big trip to play with and compete against other bands from around the country. She’s eyeing San Diego or Chicago for the first road trip. There also is a cost of $1,000 to $2,000 for maintenance on instruments and a need for more, especially lower-register instruments like tubas, string basses, cellos and violas and saxophones.

Reed welcomes donations of instruments as well as the money to pay for them.

ted@durangoherald.com

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