Challenging music, performance send Rio Hondo to state

RIO HONDO — Sometimes difficulty gives birth to beauty.

Alyssa Vasquez believes that’s why the Rio Hondo High School Marching Band qualified this past weekend to perform at the state competition in San Antonio.

“Our music is mostly difficult compared to other bands,” said Alyssa, 17, who plays trombone.

“To have it sound good is impressive compared to people that have easy music,” she added.

The Rio Hondo Marching Band competed Saturday in the 4A Area E Marching Contest in Calallen. They performed well enough to compete Monday in the Texas State UIL Marching Band Competition at the Alamodome.

The band has a history of qualifying for the state level, and Band Director Juan Cantu was delighted.

“The students really put in a lot of hard work and effort and we played with a lot of heart,” he said. “We had a high level of execution in our music that night.”

Their show “Suite Dreams,” obviously a play on the words sweet dreams, is a combination of several pieces of music. Those pieces include “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Another piece included in the show is “Sweet Dreams” made famous by The Eurythmics. Throw into that mix works by Sergei Prokofiev and other classical composers and you’ve got an intriguing ensemble.

“We’re showcasing chocolates and marshmallows and lollipops in the visual display,” Cantu said. “Our color guard is really doing a great job. They’re all wearing some pink wigs.”

Other band members also appreciated the challenges presented by the musical potpourri.

“We stood out mostly because of the difficulty of our music,” said Josue Borrego, 18, bass trombone player.

“There were a lot of spots where we showed off the woodwinds and we showed off the brass,” said Josue, a senior.

Cantu is looking forward to the state competition Monday.

“We feel honored and blessed that we are able to represent the Rio Grande Valley in a positive manner,” he said. “We’re looking forward to our performance and basically showing Texas where Rio Hondo is on the map.”

So was fellow student Chiara Serna, a senior marimba player who performs in the front ensemble.

“In past years, the front ensemble hasn’t had really difficult music,” said Chiara, 17. “This year we really challenged ourselves and the instructors trusted us to have more complex runs in the show. That really made me happy that we got to show ourselves.”