Band Blast returns Friday

The Austin High School brand rehearses Thursday as it prepares for the upcoming Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Austin High School brand rehearses Thursday as it prepares for the upcoming Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin Public School band students are blasting their way to the last concert of the year as they let their music skills shine in the spotlight.

The annual Austin High School Band Blast concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday in AHS’s Knowlton Auditorium.

“This is our biggest concert of the year,” Band Director Brad Mariska said. “It features both the bands from the high school as well as Ellis Middle School.”

Tenor saxophone player Maycol Quetzecua rehearses with the Austin High School band during rehearsal for the upcoming Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Tenor saxophone player Maycol Quetzecua rehearses with the Austin High School band during rehearsal for the upcoming Band Blast. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

As the fourth and final concert of the school year, senior students will be recognized at this concert.

“It’s a concert we always say, ‘If you don’t normally go to band concerts you should check this one out,’” Mariska said.

The bands will feature songs from movies John Williams has scored, such as “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “Jurassic Park,” “Olympic Fanfare” and more. The jazz band will also perform, along with a wood wind group and percussion features.

“There’s just a really, really great variety of music,” Mariska said.

The concert should appeal to everyone, according to Mariska, and is great to come to for those who want to hear the band play and catch some familiar tunes.

“Everyone leaves with a smile on their face,” he said.

Mariska isn’t the only one excited — the students are also excited for the show.

“This is the one concert that students tend to look forward to the most because it’s the concert they play the music that is maybe most familiar to them,” Mariska said.

Old Band Blast posters line the walls of the Austin High School band room as it rehearses for this year's Band Blast Thursday. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Old Band Blast posters line the walls of the Austin High School band room as it rehearses for this year’s Band Blast Thursday. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The concert is a culmination of all the work throughout the year. At the beginning of the year, Mariska said students take a bit of time to get used to the music and playing in the band. Yet the time spent over the school year changes everything.

“By the time you get to the end of the year, you have a chance to select music that really shows off the strengths of each group and the strengths of the seniors,” he said.

This concert will also feature solos from seniors, as well as performances from senior ensembles. Twenty-nine seniors will graduate this year, which is the largest graduating group Mariska can recall in a while. Though he is sad to see them leave, he has been impressed by how much the seniors do for the band each year.

“I think that’s one of those things that became apparent to me throughout the course of the year, is that the seniors have a really special role in the program,” Mariska said. “And especially this year because there’s so many of them, they’ve had a lot of influence over the underclassman.”

With students graduating and school letting out soon, Mariska said he hopes students will enjoy the moment.

“It’s something that is very special but also fleeting,” he continued. “So trying to get students to understand the fact that the ensembles playing on Friday will only exist here and now, and they should treasure those memories.”

Along with getting better at their instrument and gaining more music skills, Mariska hopes the students have learned to grow in confidence and work as a team.

Mariska hopes to get a large audience at the last concert of the year, noting past years have seen large crowds.

“This is probably one of our best attended concerts, which is really fun also for our students to see,” he said.

Tickets will be available at the door and cost $7 for adults and $5 for students. High school students are free with an ID and anyone with a music booster season pass or AHS activity or athletic pass is free.

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