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Nine NM students selected for national honor ensembles

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

 St. Pius X High School senior Benicio Gutierrez was selected to perform as part of the National Association for Music Education’s 2020 All-National Honor Ensemble. 

Music has been a part of Benicio Guitierrez’s life since he was a child.

For the past eight years, like clockwork, Gutierrez has practiced daily to enhance his skills on trumpet.

It’s a practice that continues today for the 17-year-old St. Pius X High School senior.

Gutierrez was recently selected to be part of the National Association for Music Education’s 2020 All-National Honor Ensemble. The virtual event concluded Jan. 9.bright spot

“It’s a big deal and I’m very proud of the accomplishment,” Gutierrez said.

The All-National Honor Ensembles consisted of a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed choir, jazz ensemble, guitar ensemble and modern band.

Students were chosen through an audition process.

The concert band and symphony orchestra each comprised 120 instrumentalists, the jazz ensemble 13 instrumentalists, the mixed choir 241 vocalists, the guitar ensemble 45 instrumentalists and the modern band 13 performers.

Students rehearsed a challenging repertoire in preparation for performing under the direction of six of the most prominent conductors in the United States: Frances Fonza (mixed choir); Nobuyoshi Yasuda (symphony orchestra); Rodney Dorsey (concert band); Todd Stoll with Terell Stafford (jazz ensemble); Chuck Hulihan (guitar ensemble); and Tony Sauza (modern band).

Gutierrez was the sole New Mexican featured in the symphony orchestra.

He is also the lead trumpeter for the St. Pius X High School band.

“Trumpet is my main instrument, though I have played French horn, but I’m not as good at it,” he said. “What I really like about trumpet is the versatility of it. I can play jazz and then switch to classical.”

While music is a big part of his life, Gutierrez is looking forward to continuing his education in college.

He is an Eagle Scout with Silver Palm recognition whose eagle project benefitted the San Juan Diego Friary, and its outreach mission to the poor and homeless.

Gutierrez is interested in studying physics, astronomy, computer sciences or engineering after high school.

“I finished my application process and now am waiting to hear back,” he says. “Science has always interested me and music can be its own science.”

In addition to Guterrez, eight more New Mexico students participated in the program: Guitarists Rio Manzanares, Ashley Melendres, Jasper Miller and Danny Ross were in the guitar ensemble; Hanna Beason, Hallie Dickerson and Morgan von Hentschel were selected for mixed choir; and Griffin Light was chosen for concert band.

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