Chinle High music students tour 4 Corners

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, March 29, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

Members of the Chinle High advanced guitar class and jazz band will tour April 27 to 28 at sites in the Four Corners region.

Advanced music students from Chinle High will launch a concert tour April 27 through 30.

The Chinle High advanced guitar class and jazz band will make stops in Red Mesa, Ariz., Aneth, Utah, and Durango, Ignacio and possibly Bayfield in Colorado.

Chinle High music teacher Eric Swanson said it was the quality of the students he has this year that inspired the tour.

"I've got some seniors who have taken music all four years, and some really talented freshmen, sophomores and juniors as well," he said. "I felt like they deserved a special experience that was also educational."

With the school board cutting back on travel in these lean budget times, Swanson searched for help funding the trip.

He found an ally in Stephen Djeka of The Stillwater Foundation, a Durango nonprofit that specializes in bringing arts and sports opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youth.

The Durango group arranged a six-hour workshop for Chinle and Stillwater students on April 28 with a joint concert that night at 7 p.m. at the Durango Arts Center.

The $5 admission will go toward the foundation and Chinle High's music program.

"It's really the Stillwater Foundation that made this whole trip possible," Swanson said. "I'm very grateful to them."

The arts center will be the students' splashiest venue. The other concerts will be in homes, schools and a church.

"I wanted this to be an experience that's more like a professional tour than a school tour," Swanson said. "As a professional musician, you would play in a variety of venues for a variety of people. The only place we're not playing in is a night club, for obvious reasons."

Tyler Benally, a senior, who is in both the guitar program and the jazz band, said he's excited about the trip.

"After playing my guitar for four years, this will be a way to go out with a bang," he said.

The tour schedule follows:

  • Friday, April 27 - afternoon, Red Mesa, Ariz., time and place TBA; evening, the home of Manuel and Yanua Morgan near Aneth, Utah, time TBA.
  • Saturday, April 28 - 7 p.m. with Stillwater students at Durango Arts Center, $5 admission.
  • Sunday, April 29 - Durango Friends Meetinghouse (left on Three Springs Blvd. off 160 between Durango and Bayfield, then quick right on County Road 233), time TBA.
  • Monday, April 30 - morning, Bayfield School District, time and place TBA; afternoon, Ignacio High School, time TBA

Information: Eric Swanson, 928-674-5680 or 435-757-8339.

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