If you’re the type for whom the best part of a football game is the halftime show, Christmas is coming early.
Marching bands from six Mesa high schools will perform Nov. 19 at Mesa Arts Center’s flagship Ikeda Theater. Bands from Dobson, Mesa, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Skyline and Westwood high schools will leave the marching formations on the field and focus instead on filling the 1,588-seat theater with the sounds of their halftime shows.
And if you think the music is all fight songs and cheerleading background beats, think again.
“School bands play an amazing range of show tunes and classics and pop,” says Frank Bennett, the concert’s organizer. “These kids are musicians. They really know how to play. You’d be amazed at the level of musicianship involved.”
Skyline High School’s marching band will play a mix of songs based on work by classical masters Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, among others.
“We take some liberties and put some modern twists on it,” says David DuPlessis, the school’s director of bands. “The music can stand on its own, without the marching and the football game.”
It’s the same show the Skyline band will perform when it travels next month to compete before the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
At the concert, each band will take the stage in turns, performing sets that last about 12 minutes each. Emcees are noteworthy Valley musicians Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan. Pilafian is an ASU music professor and founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet who has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Pink Floyd. Sheridan is a tuba soloist on the music faculty at UCLA and ASU and serves as music director of the Salt River Brass.
Proceeds will benefit the schools’ band booster clubs and the arts center.
The concert follows the pattern set by ASU ’s popular Pass in Review, an indoor concert in which the Sun Devil Marching Band performs the season’s football and competition repertoire. Tickets sell out for the annual event, and the performance is sold on CD each year.
Bennett, a longtime Mesa resident who played trombone for Mesa High School in the 1950s, says the high school concert will be a great opportunity for young musicians to perform in a top-notch public venue.
“Three or four hundred kids are going to have the experience of playing on a stage like that. When you listen to some of the kids talk about it, they’re just hyped to play at this event. It’s a magnificent theater.”
DuPlessis says it’ll also be a treat for the audience.
“It’s going to be a really unique show. It’ll be a chance for everyone to hear the high school marching bands away from the football games, at an event devoted strictly to the band and the music. We’re hoping we’ll be able to do this year after year.”
Marching Band Extravaganza
What: Marching bands from six Mesa high schools perform the music from their football halftime shows and competitions
When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 19
Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.
Cost: $15; proceeds go to Mesa Public Schools Band Booster Clubs and Mesa Arts Center Foundation
Information: (480) 644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.com