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Bringing back the hype of the Band Blast

Published 5:02pm Saturday, May 4, 2013
Bailee Brooks, playing the flute, rehearses with the rest of the concert band Tuesday morning as the group prepares for the  upcoming Big Band Blast on May 14.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Bailee Brooks, playing the flute, rehearses with the rest of the concert band Tuesday morning as the group prepares for the
upcoming Big Band Blast on May 14.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Austin High School music scene is bringing back the boom to its spring concert when it revitalizes a music tradition in Austin — the Band Blast.

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14 and will feature more music than you can shake a drum stick at.

“We want people who maybe haven’t been to a concert in a while,” said AHS music director Brad Mariska. “The spring band concert hasn’t been really well attended recently. We’re hoping people in the community that remember this [event] will come this year.”

The Band Blast was started in 1971 by Jim Wheeler and was a spring blowout, presented to boast the talent featured in the AHS music program.

Over the years the event became something you marked down on a calendar; however, as time marched on the Band Blast lost its steam.

“It never really went away,” Mariska said. “It just sort of lost its visibility.”

The reemergence of interest came when Mariska, in his first year in Austin, found some old posters for the event early on in the school year.

 

Trumpet player Jeremy Olmsted rehearses with the Austin High School band Tuesday morning. The band is in preparation for the Big Band Blast later on May 14. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Trumpet player Jeremy Olmsted rehearses with the Austin High School band Tuesday morning. The band is in preparation for the Big Band Blast later on May 14. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“In August I was doing inventory; cleaning up, going through arrangements and I came across old posters for the Band Blast,” he said.

There wasn’t any hesitation on Mariska’s part. The director, who demonstrated his energy for music during pep-band performances, immediately jumped in and started organizing the event.

Not only did he begin organizing band and ensemble performances for the show, he was also in contact with Ellis Middle School band directors Tim Davis and Nino Tarara. The show will also be featuring performances from the middle school.

However, the idea of playing with middle school bands was met with a raised eyebrow from the high school band.

“There’s been some skepticism,” Mariska admitted. “‘You mean we have to play with middle schoolers?’”

“But it’s a great opportunity to show, what we do, to the middle schoolers,” Mariska continued. “It’s a great way to show the high school students, ‘Look where you’ve come from.’”

In all, according to Mariska, the concert will feature performances from sixth, seventh and eighth-grade bands and then move on to the high school ensembles.

Throughout the concert the smaller groups will be featured including performances from the high schools mariachi band, jazz band, a student-organized polka band and a performance but the wind ensemble’s trombone section.

At the end there will be a recognition of seniors and the rest of the band will play the school song, “Austin High Gives Hail to Thee,” directed by former director Conrad Muzik.

Then, as the crowning moment of the evening, more than 300 students combined will play “God Bless America.”

“We want this to be an event,” Mariska said. “We’re trying to get that excitement together again.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased the night of the show at Knowlton Auditorium in Austin High School.

The Band Blast is one of three shows upcoming for the music program that will also feature shows by the choirs and orchestra.

Austin music director Brad Mariska directs the concert band Tuesday morning as they rehearse music from "Phantom of th Opera" in preparation for the May 14th Big Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Austin music director Brad Mariska directs the concert band Tuesday morning as they rehearse music from “Phantom of th Opera” in preparation for the May 14th Big Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

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