MHS band prepares for final concert of year

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

As the curtain closes on the 2017-2018 school year, the Manhattan High band has been preparing for a literal curtain close of their own through their last performance of the semester.

The concert, set for May 15, will feature performances from the Concert and Symphonic Bands along with the Wind Ensemble to conclude with their traditional ending piece, “Auld Lang Syne.”   

“I expect the concert will be a great experience for everyone — band students, parents and community members in attendance,” Joel Gittle, band director, said. “I’m proud of [the students’] work ethic and also their accomplishments.”

To ensure the concert holds up to all expectations, especially for the seniors who won’t be returning to MHS, the band has been rehearsing for the last two months, along with enlisting some outside volunteers for extra help.  

“On Wednesday, Dr. [Frank] Tracz came from [Kansas State] to further perfect Wind Ensemble’s songs,” Chris Carter, junior, said. “We started by watching our last performance and seeing what we needed to do better.”

Students hope to be able to control the heartfelt emotions the final concert will bring while also hoping for a smooth performance.

“Emotionally, I am expecting lots of tears from everyone,” Kathy Burton, senior, said “I’m sure that I will be a mess by the end of the night.”

The concert will see a myriad of traditions held for the last performance, including the return of a few MHS performing arts alumni, and a roast of all the seniors.

“It’s a fun time, especially since this is their last time performing on this stage,” Gittle said. “Some of these traditions have been around a long time… It’s fun to see all of the alumni come back every year for this performance.”

The night also includes some new musical arrangements for the Symphonic Band and new developments for those particular students who were involved with the marching band during first semester.

“The Symphonic Band arranges a song themselves for the last concert and that’s usually fun,” Carter said. “Of course, we also get to talk about marching band again.”

The concert isn’t just a night to commemorate the seniors. Later on they will recognize the new drum majors and recipients of the John Philip Sousa Award, the nation’s top high school band award.

“I was a drum major in the Marching Band,” Burton said. “We announce the student leaders at the concert, which is a completely different level of nostalgia”

Despite these profound successes for the band, many expect the night to feature everyone’s least favorite accessory: tears. The looming thought of performing without the seniors in the coming school year may cause many an emotional moment for the students in the band.

“It’s kind of surreal after four years of laughter, tears, and everything in between,” Burton said. “It’s all going to be over Tuesday night at 9.”

However, the lack of presence from seniors in August will present a new wave of talent and growth for the band students returning next year.

“[It’s] most definitely bittersweet. I find this time of the year to be very difficult emotionally. Some of these seniors I’ve known for eight years in band,” Gittle said. “[The underclassmen] will miss them and they wonder how they can continue without them but there are always those who step up next year and fill those shoes.”