Construction means school bands won’t play here |

Construction means school bands won’t play here

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The local hills will not be alive with the sounds of high school band music as anticipated this year.That’s because a scheduling glitch left the annual Solo and Ensemble Festival, which was to have taken place at the Aspen School District campus on Maroon Creek Road, without a venue.State and local school officials said last week that the event was supposed to take place at the Aspen schools in April. It is an event that draws hundreds of students and parents from around the Western Slope. School is out of session for one day to allow bands and solo musicians to perform at different venues around the campus simultaneously.Aspen Schools Superintendent Diana Sirko said she realized last fall that, with the new middle school construction project under way at the Maroon Creek Road campus, the event could not take place here because of a lack of parking and classroom space.”It attracts an awful lot of people,” Sirko said, adding that Sue Wasienko, is still settling into her new job as the district’s high school band teacher. And, as a recent Aspen Times article noted, the music program is in a rebuilding phase in general.Given all those circumstances, Sirko said last week, district administrators thought it best to call the Colorado High School Activities Association last fall to arrange to “trade out our turn to host the event with another school district.”Bert Borgmann, a deputy commissioner with CHSAA, confirmed that Sirko called, but he said that somehow no one ever actually arranged for another school district to take over the event. He indicated that he thought the Aspen district officials would find a replacement venue, while Aspen officials thought CHSAA would do it.”It may have been us who dropped the ball,” he said Friday by telephone. “We’ve actually been talking about it up until sometime last week, trying to find a district to take it on.”No replacement site could be found, he said, so the event has been scrapped for this year.As for the future, he said, he hopes to call a meeting of Western Slope administrators and teachers to talk about finding ways to get the event back on solid footing.”One aspect of all this,” Borgmann said, is that “we’ve been having a lot of turnover of music teachers around the Western Slope.”Some districts, such as Rangely, have had to cancel their involvement because their music programs themselves had been discontinued, he said.The Festival has been going on since the 1950s, he said, but the last couple of years have been difficult, Borgmann acknowledged, at least in part because schools in northwestern Colorado prefer to hold the festivals on a school day. School in the rest of the state, he said, hold their solo and ensemble festivals on weekends.Sirko said the Aspen district should be fully able to host the event in the future and added that “everyone thinks it has value. I think that certainly, between the District Theatre, the Black Box theater and the gymnasiums, we’d have the facilities to host it.”Noting that Borgmann has not called about setting up a meeting of school officials, she agreed that “It does seem like it’s something where we need to pull people together.”John Colson’s e-mail address