When the Marcos de Niza High School marching band breaks into
strains of the Irish folk ballad “Danny
Boy” on local football fields, it is for
their fallen comrade, Sean Andujar.
In fact, the Marcos band’s entire 9-minute program this year was
written and arranged in memory of
Andujar, a talented and popular
percussionist who died in May when his
vehicle was hit by a suspected drunk
The Marcos band recently performed its tribute during a band
“invitational” hosted by neighboring
Corona del Sol High School.
Several local high school bands were invited to Corona for the
tune-up before the earliest Band Day
Performing were bands from Desert Vista High School, Higley High
School, Marcos de Niza, Mountain View
High School, Saguaro High School, Tempe
High School, and of course, Corona del
It’s basically a way for the bands to get input on their
performance before judged competition
begins. There are no prizes or ratings
For the Corona del Sol Aztecs, the marching season began at the end
of July with a weeklong band camp. With
school under way, band members practice
weekdays at 6 a.m. with weekly section
rehearsals, according to Corona
Invitational publicist Carol Crane.
The annual Corona del Sol Invitational is the main source of
revenue for Aztec Band Boosters.
High school marching bands fine-tune their performances during the
fall season, playing at football games
and practicing for the state marching
The Marcos de Niza program begins on a sad note – a marimba solo
after which the marimba is left standing
alone in memory of Andujar -- but
quickly livens up by incorporating
Andujar’s heritage and personal tastes
in music, according to Michele Kalo,
the Marcos de Niza director of bands.
“We wanted to have an original piece of music,” she said.
la Vida,” as the program is called, was
created by two local musicians –
Patrick Sheridan and Sam Pilafian,
both world-class tuba players – to tell
the story of Sean Andujar, Kalo said.
Both Sheridan and Pilafian knew Andujar
through their participation in Sonic
Brass, a brass-and-percussion ensemble
for young Arizona musicians like Andujar,
who is still listed on the Sonic Brass
web page as one of its percussionists.
Sheridan and Pilafian composed the
opening and closing music and created a
new arrangement of “Danny Boy” to
commemorate Andujar’s Irish heritage.
“Viva la Vida” starts slow and majestic with a piece called “Mi
Compadre” but quickly builds pace.
Andujar’s Puerto Rican heritage is
celebrated by incorporating a bit of
merengue dance rhythm into the closing
piece called “Bubby’s Bash,” Kalo noted.
Bubby was Sheridan’s nickname for
There is also a hint of popular music, in this case echoes of the
Daniel Powter tune, “Bad Day,” she said.
“Viva la Vida” was premiered at the Marcos football game on Sept.
1, and has been played at every home
game this season.
“I think they thought it was a nice idea,” Kalo said of band
members’ reactions to the program
dedicated to Andujar.
“I think they especially like the closer … it reminds them of the
person we’re honoring.”
The drummers play with a black band on one of their sticks.