Preparing for battle of the bands

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

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Carson High School's award-winning Blue Thunder Marching Band is hosting one of the region's four main band competitions on Nevada Day with 11 bands expected.

"Since we're hosting, we won't compete, so ours will be just an exhibition performance," said band director Jarod Sorum. "We will perform last, which is great because we'll have the biggest audience."

The Blue Thunder Marching Band took first place in the medium-sized band division during the recent Reno Performance of Champions competition held at Galena High School, and second at the previous competition, the McQueen Extravaganza at McQueen High School.

Dayton High School's band - a very young program also in the medium division - took fourth place in both competitions, Sorum said, while Douglas High, in the large band division, took home a second place at Galena and a first from McQueen.

"The competitions are one of the primary things our band does," Sorum said. "It is about the competitions."

The band also plays during games to add to school spirit, but halftime performances are the routines the band uses during competitions.

"We are trying to put something more articulate and demanding out on the field - that fusion of music and visual concepts," Sorum said. "Our color guard dominates the visual aspect."

Sorum, who is in his third year as band director at Carson High, said the program has grown to 66 members.

"The premise visually is that individuals are supposed to be invisible. You should only be able to see the lines and forms ... you can watch how they morph into more straight, angular and dynamic forms," Sorum said.

"All of this is to reflect what's happening in the music. For instance, in our second movement, the music is fluid and melodic and smooth, so you'll see soft arcs and circles. In the third movement, which is aggressive and brash, the forms are very, very sharp," he said.

"We are trying to put something stellar out there with competitive marching bands, and oftentimes, spectators don't get it, but we try to do some of both," he said.

"Our halftime show is our competitive show, and doesn't always click with the football audience, so we also put on a pre-game show with something like Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," which caters more to their interests," he said.

The Oct. 31 Nevada Day Championship promises to be one of the biggest events of the marching band competitive season, said Jeff Cobb, president of the Carson City Band Association, a nonprofit booster club.

Gates open on the Carson High School football field at 2 p.m., and competitions run from 3-8 p.m. Cost is $12 at the gate.

"This competition is part of the U.S. Scholastic Band Association," Cobb said. "Last year, we almost completely filled the stands."

A full snack bar will be open and public parking is available in the students' north parking lot. The school's south lot is reserved for participants.

The bands will compete for the Governor's Cup, but a sweepstakes trophy will go to the band with the highest cumulative score from the afternoon field competition and the morning's Nevada Day Parade.

"Come out and support your local musicians and artists," Cobb said. "These are very high-caliber performers, and having the community support them is how we show the school district the importance of these school programs."

The last of the four main competitions will be the UNR Sierra Band Crusade Nov. 7 at Mackay Stadium in Reno.


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