Carson High marching band has big plans for season

Carson High School’s Blue Thunder marching band practices a set during band camp Aug. 3. This year, the band will premiere custom-written music by composer Gary Gilroy.

Carson High School’s Blue Thunder marching band practices a set during band camp Aug. 3. This year, the band will premiere custom-written music by composer Gary Gilroy.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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The forecast calls for rain on Carson High School’s Blue Thunder marching band this season with a chance of “show-stopping” energy and custom-made content.

Alondra Gomez Aviles, a junior and a guard captain in the band, said the program will offer a “heroic” theme in its choreography with its flags, rifles and sabers. Gomez Aviles, who has been a student of director Nicolas Jacques since he taught middle school, is entering his program for the fifth year.

“What’s kept me in the program is just building a bond with everybody and making a family,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing. It’s not something you come across often. … I’m really looking forward to the show.”

In October 2022, the Blue Thunder won first place in the AA Band Division with Outstanding Music, Outstanding General Effect and Outstanding Visual at the Galena Performance of Champions field show tournament with “Along Came a Spider.” Prior to that, Jacques’ students were the Class A Northern Nevada champions earning similar recognitions along with Outstanding Color Guard and Percussion.

Jacques said Gary Gilroy, the composer of his 2022 show, professor of music and director of bands at California State University, Fresno and a guest conductor for concert and marching bands and percussion ensembles, offered to write original material for Blue Thunder this year. Jacques said Gilroy was impressed by what the Blue Thunder achieved last year.

“Our custom show theme this year is called ‘Blue Thunder’ and we’re going to use weather effects and sounds combined with really impactful music and flashy visuals to put together a show-stopping package that’s going to continue to show everybody that the Blue Thunder marching band is a powerhouse in Northern Nevada,” Jacques said.

The new music will blend blues and high energy in its movements and offer mellow themes, he said.

“The ‘blue’ part of ‘Blue Thunder’ is a play on words and mimics the feel of the bluesiness, with a minor third kind of a bluesy sound within,” he said. “It will have the high energy of the music here and there, along with a couple quotes of ‘Rain, Rain Go Away’ and ‘I’m Singing in the Rain.’”

Jacques said it’s exciting to premiere the composer’s material.

“He wanted to see us use it and continue to see us grow,” he said. “Plus, he also plans to use this show after we’re done with it and publish it so other bands all around the world can use it so that we have the credit of being the group that premiered his music on the field.”

The program continues to produce noteworthy talent like clarinetist Drea Cabral, one of 18,000 students in the nation chosen to perform in Carnegie Hall in February.

Jacques said he also continues to receive help from the same drill designer who choreographed the band’s moves last year and the band’s staff members remain who were integral in making it award-winning.

His students endured the heat at band camp for two weeks perfecting their music and drills showing their commitment to their music.

Sophomore Ray Owen, who originally played a mix of the glockenspiel and auxiliary percussion his first year, now is on vibes. He said rehearsals can be tiring but the music “can be beautiful to hear and see.”

“I’m looking forward to how we do with our shows and our competitions and how well other people react to our own show that’s written for us and how they like it,” Owen said.

Jacques plans to continue recruitment and hold fundraisers, including the upcoming Chili Bingo Night.

“We’re looking to get larger and larger each year now that we’re more established across the school district with our band programs,” he said.

For information about the Blue Thunder, follow its Facebook page at


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