Three Hobbs High School students were among the 48-member orchestra when Southwest Symphony performed this week in Hobbs, Lovington and Tatum.
Michael Bradley, Heather Etter and Jeremiah Zamora are the first high school students to perform with the symphony since it was established in 1983. They were selected for the honor by HHS Band director Rusty Crowe after Symphony Manager Cindy Walker and the rest of the symphony brass came up with the idea.
"We thought it would be a great way to involve students and given them a chance to hear different instrumentations and pieces they haven¹t heard before," Walker said. "Plus, our long-range goal is to one day hopefully add a string section to the high school band."
Crowe said he selected the three musicians because they each are first chair in their instrument Bradley plays trombone, Etter the flute and Zamora the trumpet- as well as being section leaders in the marching band. "They're very reliable, awesome kids," Crowe said. "They just give above and beyond what you ask."
Playing selections geared specifically to children, including "Tommy the Tuba," indeed was a change in musical genre as well as cohorts.
"t' an opportunity to learn from people who play music professionally," Etter said. "They've been doing this for a lot longer than we have."
After rehearsing with the orchestra for an entire day, the students performed on Monday and Tuesday, an initial step that two of them, at least, hope will be the first in a musical career.
Zamora, best known as the trumpet soloist at Hobbs Eagle football games, wants some day to make his living performing in front of large crowds. "It's so much fun," he said. "I really look forward to half time. I'm not nervous at all. I'm not someone who chokes."
Maybe that¹s because the high school junior practices for about 90 minutes each day after school in the high school band room. "That way when (Mr.) Crowe hears something I'm doing wrong, he can fix it. If I'm at home, he can't help me." In addition to performing with the symphony, Zamora took another step toward his career goal last month after he auditioned with 500 others in San Antonio and was selected to be a member of the Crossmen Drum Corps.
In contrast, Bradley is a multidimensional senior who is also active in choir and the drama department. He hopes to one day become a choir or band director. "I feel music is a good way to not control but moderate your emotions almost," Bradley said. "When you're singing an uplifting song in choir or playing upbeat music, you can change people¹s mood. You can make them happy."
Etter, also a senior, picks up her flute when she feels like relaxing. "I get calm," she said. "I really don't know how to explain it." And even though she hopes to one day to have a career in forestry or geology, Etter knows music will always be a part of her life. "I'm not going to stop playing," she said. "I'm attached. Maybe I'll play in college and in a symphony orchestra after I graduate."
Coincidentally, each of the three students got their musical start in Mary Grace Roberson¹s sixth-grade band classes at different schools. The now-retired teacher¹s instruction, as well as admiring older kids and siblings who marched in parades and at the football game, was the initial attraction. And now, as the students make the transition to lifelong music lovers, the baton has been passed.
Each visited elementary schools prior their concerts with other Southwest Symphony members to explain the intricacies and joy of their instruments.
Then they performed for students during abbreviated daytime concerts or the community during a longer concert on Monday night.
"Everybody said they did a great job," Walker said. "They fit in."
One special audience member during the HMS concert was Petra Castillo Zamora's sister and a fourth grader at Taylor elementary school.
"I feel like a role model to her and some of the other kids who want to join band or do something really cool," Zamora said. "It's a lot of fun."