Diné guitarists to tour Four Corners

Courtesy of Chinle High School

The Chinle High Advanced Guitar Class and Jazz Band will play a four- or five-town mini-tour of the Four Corners this weekend.

Herald Staff Report

Diné musicians from Chinle High School in Arizona are spending the weekend on a mini concert tour through the Four Corners.

The Chinle High Advanced Guitar Class and Jazz Band will play Red Mesa, Ariz.; Aneth, Utah; Durango; Ignacio; and possibly Bayfield between today and Monday.

Chinle High music teacher Eric Swanson said it was the quality of the students he has this year that inspired the tour.

“I’ve got some seniors who have taken music all four years, and some really talented freshmen, sophomores and juniors, as well,” Swanson said. “I felt like they deserved a special experience that was also educational.”

Much of the funding for the excursion came from the Durango-based Stillwater Foundation, which specializes in bringing arts and sports opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youths. Stephen Djeka, one of Stillwater’s music directors, helped Swanson plan the tour.

The Stillwater Foundation will hold a six-hour workshop for Chinle and Stillwater students on Saturday with a joint concert later at Roshong Recital Hall at Fort Lewis College. The $5 admission charge will go toward the Foundation and Chinle High’s music program.

“It’s really the Stillwater Foundation that made this whole trip possible,” Swanson said. “I’m very grateful to them.”

The Arts Center will be the students’ splashiest venue. The other concerts will be in homes, schools and a church.

“I wanted this to be an experience that’s more like a professional tour than a school tour,” Swanson said. “As a professional musician, you would play in a variety of venues for a variety of people. The only place we’re not playing in is a nightclub, for obvious reasons.”

Senior Tyler Benally, who is in both the guitar program and the jazz band, said he’s excited about the trip.

“After playing my guitar for four years, this will be a way to go out with a bang,” he said.

ted@durangoherald.com

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