Top-notch Kyrene School District band, orchestra and chorus students practiced together long and hard Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at Tempe Marcos de Niza High School to perfect songs for the Kyrene District Honors Music Festival Jan. 30. About 220 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from Kyrene's six middle schools and 24 Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School students were selected to participate in the annual event, which has been a tradition for 12 years. "It is a big deal for them," Altadena Middle School band director Will Norris said. "It is also pretty high pressure because they have a fairly limited amount of time and it has to be fairly high caliber." The event location rotates around Kyrene's four feeder high schools where the directors choose music they feel is appropriate for the middle-schoolers to perform, Norris said. The students then rehearse the selected music together for two days at the high school. This year the middle school students also watched Marcos de Niza students perform during rehearsal with the goal of encouraging future participation in high school music programs. "The part that is so cool about this event is it's a real connectional piece between the districts - Kyrene and Tempe Union," Kyrene Middle School chorus teacher and music festival coordinator Julie Hackman said. Ultimately, music filled the halls of Marcos de Niza at 7 p.m. Wednesday night as the students showed off their hard work in a free concert to parents, friends and relatives. CDs of the concert are available for $20 from On the Spot Recording, www.onthespotrecording.com.

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