Musicians to hit the AHS stage; Band, choir and orchestra to perform winter concerts

Published 10:33 am Monday, March 2, 2015

Austin students will be sharing music with the community this week during the annual winter concerts.

“It’s kind of what we’re all about,” Choir Director Brian Johnson said. “This time of the year, we kind of crank up the energy volume and get things going for Austin.”

Austin High School band, orchestra and choir students will take the stage this week for their annual winter concerts. March is recognized nationally as “Music In Our Schools Month,” which gives the community the opportunity to take in some student talent. The winter concerts allow students to bring a different type of music to the stage.

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“The winter concerts are an opportunity for the ensembles to really dig into classic literature,” Band Director Bradley Mariska said.

“The thing that is really fun for the teachers and students is that this concert is probably some of our most challenging and most serious music we study all year,” he added.

The advanced concert will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Knowlton Auditorium. It will feature the concert choir and treble choir, directed by Johnson; the symphony orchestra, directed by orchestra director Gene Schott; and the wind ensemble, directed by Mariska. The concert will include the orchestra playing the Gustav Holst Classic “Mars” from “The Planets,” the wind ensemble performing a ballad called “Song for My Children,” and the concert choir singing the classic spiritual “Set Down Servant.”

The prep concert will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Knowlton Auditorium, and will feature music by the concert band, prep orchestra, concert orchestra, and mixed choir. The concert band will perform a John Philip Sousa march, while the mixed choir will sing the Irish tune “Riversong.”

The winter concert is different in ways besides the more challenging music. Johnson said a longstanding tradition has been to hold the concert with all three music groups — the band, orchestra and choir.

“It’s kind of cool because the kids get to see the other students in the other ensembles a lot more,” Johnson said. “And they really get to appreciate the work they’ve been doing.”

“We really feel strongly about the kids seeing those other groups and supporting each other,” he added.

He said the students are excited for the concerts, especially to perform in from of an audience. Johnson hopes the students not only learn from playing in front of and audience, but also find joy in performing.

“Music is an art that happens in the moment and you have to appreciate every second that you’re performing and singing and playing,” he said. “It’s a great, great time.”

Schott noted the students have worked on this music for about two months since their last concert for the holidays.

“The kids are sounding amazing,” he said. “And to be able to show that to the community and to the parents, it’s such an amazing experience for them.”

Mariska hopes the students learn the benefits of being challenged and pushed through this more difficult music to create something people can enjoy.

“It’s really fun to take on a challenging piece of music and hear it mastered by a group of high school students,” he said.

Schott said past concerts have had good audience turnouts and he is excited to see parents and community members come out to support the students for this concert.

“The [students have] worked really, really hard on some big pieces, some complex pieces, and they’re definitely ready to show them off, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I guarantee you the will enjoy what they’re hearing and they’ll be very, very proud of the students in their community,” he added.

Admission to each concert is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Austin High School students are free with ID and both Music Booster and AHS Activity Passes are accepted for free admission. Questions can be directed to Bradley Mariska at