School is out, but for a number of Cleburne High School band students, this week has been one of their busiest.
In addition to four days of spring band camp, a large segment of the Golden Pride including a number of 2019 graduates, will be boarding buses on Saturday to compete at the UIL Texas State 5A Solo and Ensemble Contest.
The award-winning musicians achieved First Division ratings on pieces performed from memory at the District UIL contest, which advanced them to the state competition. The Cleburne delegation will compete Sunday at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville.
State qualifiers in solo competition include Jase Bailey, Logan Cato, Allison Febinger, Emma Schulte, Daizy Scott, Mikeala Wismer, Brendan Felton, Jerry Gaskill, Patricia Hernandez, Aidan Herrick, Mason Hill, Olivia Kamp, Tabitha Lane, Rebekah Lemus, Ryelyn Lott, Sierra Pugh, Mieko Smith, Moises Vargas, Camila Varjao, Ernesto Vega, Julian Vital, London Walker, Blake Wilson and Kayli Woody.
Advancing to state in ensemble performance are Andrew Dosch, Allison Febinger, Zoe Atchley, Jake Carroll, Presley Cash, Kaitlyn Collins, Alyssa Cox, Nick Crawford, Karina Estrada, Michelle Garcia, Jacoby Hasan, Jordyn Haught, Aidan Herrick, Mason Hill, Cameron Horton, Reagan Horton, Mara Jackson, Victoria Johnson, Meredith Johnson, Tabitha Lane, Rebekah Lemus, Ryelyn Lott, Henry Newby, Tammy Nguyen, Emily Noriega, Raeann Ortiz, Charlie Patty, Jill Perez, Kenyon Pio, Sierra Pugh, Alex Rodriguez, Anne Rowland, Justin Stanley, Ivan Suaste, Moises Vargas, Ernesto Vega, Julian Vital, London Walker, Blake Wilson, Kayli Woody and Emily Wren.
Competing at the state level will be a first-time experience for Moises Vargas, who is a freshman tuba player. He has qualified as a soloist and as a member of a brass quintet. Advancing to state is the finale to a year of musical achievement for the 15-year-old, who was awarded first chair tuba in the Texas Music Educators Association Region 30 Freshman Band.
“I admit I am very hard working,” Vargas said. “I strive for the best version of me every day in band, academics—everything.”
Vargas began playing the tuba as a sixth-grader at Wheat Middle School, inspired by his older sister.
“My sister was in band,” he said. “Every time I watched her march, it was the tubas that stood out to me. I tried out for bassoon, which was my second choice, but I had really short fingers in middle school. They said I couldn’t play it, but I got a really good rating on the tuba.”
Vargas held first chair in the tuba section through most of middle school, achieving All-Region Band honors in the eighth grade. He admits to being competitive, but backs it with lots of practice and commitment.
“I think it’s a combination of competitiveness, some talent and non-stop practice,” he said. “It can be chaotic sometimes. My mom complains about it being too loud—but she’s very supportive.”
As a first-year member of the Pride, he was nervous about marching season, but his fears were quickly overcome.
“I was nervous about marching band, but the atmosphere in the Golden Pride is so inviting,” Vargas said. “Everyone is so friendly. I always had the mindset of being in All-Region Band once I got to high school. I think achieving that was something I wanted to prove to myself. Making first chair in the Region 30 Freshman Band was a huge goal. Once I got in the room with the judges, I knew I could get it, that all my practice was going to pay off.”
CHS Assistant Band Director Brock Feller said Vargas’ piece for the Texas State solo competition is very challenging but he knows Moises is up for the challenge.
“The solo Moises is taking to state is tough,” Feller said. “But he has handled it really, really well. Moises is a hoss. We need more kids like him.”
Vargas said he’s playing a difficult piece.
“It’s a lot to memorize — it’s five minutes long,” he said. “The articulation and the 16th notes make it very hectic. I feel more secure with my ensemble music and playing with other people. I like seeing how my part meshes with theirs. It’s pretty fun.
“This is a great ending to my ninth grade year. I’ve seen some good things happen and I think if I continue with hard work and dedication, it will pay off in a lot of ways. I would like to try out for drum major at some point, but I really like being in the tuba line. We are very close and have a lot of respect for each other. We think we’re the best section.”
Jackson, a member of the 2019 graduating class, will be competing at the state contest for the fourth consecutive year. She views this weekend as one more chance to be with friends she will soon be missing.
“It’s definitely surreal,” Jackson said. “A lot of people walked out of graduation saying ‘I’m done.’ For me, this will be one more time to hang out with my band friends. It’s special, that’s for sure.”
Jackson will be performing in a bassoon trio, which also includes fellow graduate Meredith Johnson and freshman Jacoby Hasan. While she will not be studying music at Dallas Baptist University, Jackson says there will be opportunities to use her musical talents while in college.
“DBU doesn’t have a marching program,” she said. “But they do have a jazz ensemble and I played bass guitar in the CHS Jazz Band, so I’m thinking that might be a way to continue with my music. They are always looking for experienced musicians for concerts and choir programs, so that’s some other avenues for involvement.”
In addition to state qualifiers in band, CHS choir students will be competing in the UIL solo and ensemble vocal state contest taking place this weekend at The University of Texas.