On Friday, December 6, the Salt River Elementary School Choir performed a number of songs at the Arizona State Capitol in downtown Phoenix. The choir has participated in the annual Arizona State Capitol Holiday Concert Series for the past eight years, performing for employees in the offices in the building as well as visitors and family members. Each year, invitations are sent to school choirs throughout Arizona, and there are three to six performances scheduled during each work week in December.
The students sang “Fifty Nifty United States,” “Monsoon Song” (O’odham song), “Red Mountain Song” (O’odham song), “In the Spirit,” “Éste Es La Navidad” and “Silent Night” in O’odham and in English. This year’s choir numbered 57 students and was by far the largest SRES group that has ever performed at the capitol.
“They did so well, and they had so much enthusiasm,” said SRES music teacher Suzanne Decker about this year’s choir. “The program has really grown a lot since the first 15 students [who performed] the first year, [who] were kind of embarrassed to sing, compared to today, where they are dancing and doing jazz music—it’s a big change.”
Rayleen Martinez has been in the choir for the past three years. “This year was exciting, and I have opened up more this year than the last two,” she said. Her favorite song was “Silent Night.”
“I joined choir because I love to sing,” said student Eric Mack. “I got to use my gourd for the O’odham songs.”
Following their performance, the students were treated to a tour of the capitol before heading back to school for the rest of the day.