The Salida High School concert and jazz bands were back in their element Wednesday night as they performed their first concert since before the beginning of COVID-19 in the high school auditorium.

The band was poised to present their spring concert when the COVID-19 lockdown of March 2020 was put into effect. The schools closed their doors and shifted to remote learning for the rest of the year.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the music program resorted to creative scheduling, social distancing, smaller rehearsal groups and as much outdoor rehearsal as possible.

They were able to pull off socially distanced performances on the SHS football field while friends and family sat in the bleachers.

Salida High School band teacher André Wilkins thanked the students, teachers, staff and parents for their hard work and perseverance in maintaining the music program through the pandemic.

The concert band performed “Clark County Celebration” by James Swearingen, “Visigoths” by Sean O’Loughlin and “El Capitan” by John Phillip Sousa.

Sitting in with the concert band and later with the SHS jazz band was clarinetist Dr. Robert Barrett, director of jazz studies and woodwinds at Western Colorado University.

Barrett was introduced by Wilkins as his inspiration for changing his career goals from history teacher to music teacher during his studies at Western.

The SHS jazz band performed Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks’ “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” followed by an original composition by Barrett, “The More You Know,” featuring Barrett as a soloist.

Other soloists in both pieces were Kai Jones on piano, Hollis Beddingfield on guitar and Wyatt Velharticky on saxophone.

The last piece in the concert, “Tastes Like Chicken” by Kris Berg,  featured solos by Barrett and Velharticky.

Audience members gave the young musicians a standing ovation to round out the night.

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