West seeks another championship

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By Don Pace

The West Las Vegas Honors Choir is on its way to to the capital city this week to defend its state title.

It is never an east thing to try to hold on to the blue trophy, but Las Vegas’ pride, the “Voices of Angels,” as they’ve been called, will sing John Rutter’s “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind,” Henry Purcell’s “Sound the Trumpet” and “O’Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen.

“It really excites me that they are going to defend their title. I watched them perform yesterday, and when I listen to them, I like to close my eyes and absorb the music. It puts me at peace and like I’ve always said, ‘They sound like a Choir of Angels.’ I just love to hear them sing,” Principal Gene Parson said.

Parson said the honors choir will be presenting a two-program show in March, singing Broadway hits. He said last year the choir sang to a soldout crowd.

“I thank Mr. (Arnell David) Arellanes all the time for creating what he has now (the choir) from literally nothing. He developed the program with kids who had the ability and the time to learn how to sing the way they do, it’s just incredibly. Every time I walk into the music room and see that state champion banner I get a good feeling,” Parson said.

Arellanes has been at West Las Vegas for seven years and said last year was the most momentous in the school’s choir history because its members took the 2008 State choir championship.

“And this year being able to defend that title is even more exciting. The group of seniors who are with us now are the students who started with me in sixth grade, so they’ve come full circle and to go to a state contest as one of their final events of their senor year is remarkable,” Arellanes said.

Choirs representing A though AAAAA schools will compete over the two-day event beginning Friday at Capital High School in Santa Fe, with final judging taking place on Saturday afternoon.

While different districts are judged in their divisions, Arellanes said the West Las Vegas honors choir was among the very best from every division, coming in fourth of all schools from the state, A through AAAAA.

“In my 27th year of teaching, I’ve worked at the elementary to the professional level, but there’s something especially magical in seeing the students come together with one goal in mind, as a unit, and show what they’re really made of. This choir has a pride in what they do, an energy beyond their age group, and take it so seriously,” Arellanes said.

Arellanes continues to speak out about the positive incentives that music and culture play in academic achievement.

“It is pretty amazing,” he said. “I would love to see a Las Vegas choir made up from students from West and East. I think it would be the most wonderful thing because both schools have incredible talent, but Las Vegas has great talent throughout the city.”