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Competition season kicks of Sept. 9 at Penn-Trafford
Serra musicians and color guard fine tune the drill during summer evening band camp. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
If you go...
Serra Catholic Marching Band presents “Wanted”
Tournament of Bands Region 8
Where: Penn-Trafford High School, 3381 Route 130, Harrison City
When: Saturday, Sept. 9. Gates open at 5 p.m. Serra Catholic performs at 6 p.m., followed by local bands East Allegheny at 7:15 and McKeesport Area at 8:15. Awards begin at 8:50.
Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens
Serra Catholic High School's band director said fans and audiences can expect a “lighthearted, very upbeat show” when the official competition season kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 9 at Penn-Trafford High School.
Jesse Bush described “Wanted” as a “cowboy-inspired show” with musicians and color guard featured in duets, solos, and even a vocal selection.
Music includes several songs by Randall Standridge, the Eagles, Johnny Cash, and others, Bush said.
Drum major Vincent Brown said he taught himself how to play the harmonica, which is featured at the very beginning of the production. His character is the protagonist cowboy searching for antagonist wanted man Michael Aland.
Antagonist Michael Aland is a featured soloist as he is pursued by protagonist drum major Vincent Brown in "Wanted." (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
As band camp concluded its second week in an evening rehearsal, Brown talked about this year’s show.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a fun show with a lot of cool drum ideas in a Western theme. There’s a train beat that’s used in a lot of Westerns. The flutes play what sounds like a train whistle and the baritone sax sounds like a gun fight, at one point.”
Antagonist Michael Aland is featured on baritone sax in “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
With everyone including Bush dropping hints without fully divulging the storyline, there is a robbery that sets the stage for the show that follows.
“I’m excited to see how it does competitively,” Brown said.
Taylor Betzner on clarinet and Robbie Anitori on flute are the assistant drum majors and each is featured in some portion of the show.
In addition to her skills on clarinet, Betzner has a vocal solo in “Desperado,” which she said is one of her favorite parts in “Wanted.”
In addition to learning the drills and music, Betzner said she enjoys marching band because of “practicing with people you like who do feel like family.”
Color guard squad includes (front row from left) captains Francesca Aland and Katelyn Kostrub, and in back from left are Brigid Fuller, Taylor Brown, and Sydney Korbanic. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
Senior Anitori said this will be his fifth year with the group because he joined as an eighth-grader.
He said he decided to play the flute following a presentation on instruments.
“It was just a different language to me,” Anitori said.
“It kind of brought him out of his shell,” Betzner added. He and Lyndsay Chirdon play a flute duet.
“I’m looking forward to doing this for the last time,” Anitori said. “They bugged me to join band at first, and I think I made a good choice.”
“They are a great group of kids,” veteran color guard director Susan Frank said of her squad.
“This is the first time he (Bush) has ever done a fun show.”
Bush said he’s thought about doing a Western theme for a few years, and the time seemed right.
Hard at work during band camp, assistant drum major Robbie Anitori and Lyndsay Chirdon prepare for their flute duet. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
Senior guard captains Francesca Aland and Katelyn Kostrub said they are excited to perform “Wanted,” with guard members featured at various points.
Some of details, as usual, will be worked out right up to the start of the season and tweaked throughout, depending on comments by judges and adjustments made by Bush and Frank.
Kostrub said “Wanted” definitely is a lot of fun for color guard, through their costumes and routines.
Francesca Aland said it was easier to prepare for the Pirate-themed show last year, since there were some recent movies they could draw on.
Band members and guard relied on their own resources, she said, to watch movies and TV shows featuring the Old West.
Getting ready to compete outdoors in various weather conditions is something both said they have to adjust to each year after competing with winter guard.
“You forget how much the wind affects a performance,” Francesca Aland said. “Or when backdrops fall.”
“You do a toss, and there’s a gust of wind, and you have to adjust quickly,” Kostrub said. “I’m looking forward to performing one last season, regardless of the outcome.”
“I want to go to states again,” Francesca said. Last season, Serra brought home the state title in their category. “Your show is not done until the last competition,” she noted.
Members of Serra Catholic Marching Band look forward to the start of their competition season on Sept. 9. This year's show is "Wanted." (Photo courtesy Serra Catholic High School Music Department)
In their Facebook posts throughout band camp and beyond, there’s been an addition to the organization – a yellow duck placed in the custody of a select student.
“The duck is a tool I use to help teach correct marching technique,” Bush said. “It’s become our official mascot and good luck charm. Now, it’s a reward for best work effort.”
In addition to the initial competition at Penn-Trafford, Serra plans to compete Sept. 16 at East Allegheny.
Bush still was deciding on another September date as of band camp. That will be followed by Steel Valley on Oct. 7, McKeesport’s Home Show on October 14, and Region 8 championships on Oct. 21.
The band director said he had not yet decided on whether the group will compete at States on Oct. 28 at a location to be determined.
“The students are very excited to do this show,” Bush said. “They are great kids.”
Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a freelance contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse Bush – Band Director
Susan Frank -- Guard Director
Ryan Raible – Drill Designer
Erin Marie Genton
Originally published September 05, 2023.