Memorial MS: Creating high caliber artists through fine arts programs

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A myriad of talented choir, band, orchestra, and jazz musicians can trace their beginnings to the halls of Memorial Middle School. From there, many have gone on to earn prestigious awards for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.

Case in point: one half of the impressive student-led Armonioso String Quartet, Kate Scaief and Sarah Flores, who recently performed at the Harlingen School of Health Professions ribbon cutting ceremony are both products of the Memorial MS Orchestra.

Flores, cello player and current ninth grade student at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy earned first chair in the Middle School Region 28 Orchestra during her eighth grade year and earned second chair this year in the High School Region 28 Orchestra. She still reminisces about when she first began to play cello in seventh grade and how her former orchestra director’s valuable lessons inspired her own love for music.

“Karen Geigle is my biggest inspiration for music,” said Flores. “She was my middle school teacher and she is the reason that I would take my cello home every day and just practice for hours on end. Now I’m thinking of majoring in music and becoming a music teacher because I loved her class so much. I really am thankful for that and her putting up with me every day for two years.”

Flores first approached Scaief about forming a quartet when they were both members of the Memorial MS orchestra. Now in eighth grade, Scaief is the concertmistress or lead violinist for the orchestra. Scaief who has been playing the violin since she was in kinder, earned first chair in the MS Region 28 Orchestra this year.

Besides orchestra, Memorial has seen success from its band programs and choir as well.

Earlier this month, Band Director James Keltner and Assistant Band Director Julissa Garcia were invited to present a clinic at the 2015 TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Convention. Their clinic featured a performance by the Memorial MS Jazz Band.

“We were all very excited for the chance to perform at TMEA,” said eighth grade student Eliseo Pedraza. “Our goal is just to do the best we can and set the bar for other incoming students. Since this was the first time that our jazz band performed at TMEA, it certainly put some pressure on us. However, we wanted to do our best so that other generations will get the same opportunities to make our school proud.”

Memorial MS had a combined total of 16 all-region band members – 10 all-region band members and six all-region jazz band members.

The list of accolades extends into the choir program. This year the Memorial MS Choir had the most participants in the Region 28 Middle School Choir Solo and Ensemble Contest with each of its 32 contestants earning medals for their superior performance ratings.

“I’m very proud of our choir’s accomplishments,” said Bianca Lopez eighth grade student. “Each year you have these students that join us fresh out of the feeder schools all hyped up and excited for choir. Our director Rebecca Albritton teaches us amazing music and techniques. For me, it definitely has been a unique experience.”

During the summer of 2014, three Memorial MS Choir students earned spots in the 2014 Texas Choral Director’s Association Elementary Honor Choir composed of hundreds of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students from across the state. Yancianna Delgado, Mariah Molina, and Camilla Vallejo, now seventh graders, had the opportunity to perform with an elite chorus at the TCDA state convention on July 29 in San Antonio. They look forward for the opportunity to audition once again this year.

“We have definitely set the standard here in the fine arts at Memorial Middle School,” said Lopez. “This school is a place where you can feel welcomed, make life-long friends, and learn. But most of all, it’s a school where you can find your path for success.”


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