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Sean's song ... A tribute

By: Doug Snover

Oct. 21, 2006

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 driver.

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 competition.

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 Sol.

It’s basically a way for the bands to get input on their performance before judged competition begins. There are no prizes or ratings awarded.

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 band competition.

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.

“Viva 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 Andujar.

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.


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