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By Heidi Tanner
Special to The PREVIEW
For those of you who have never heard of or attended a Band-O-Rama concert, you are probably asking yourself, “What is this all about?”
Way back in the late 1970s in a band hall on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, the six members of the band staff were talking at the end of a meeting, wishing that students and parents of the band program would be able to hear each other near the end of the school year. This would give each band a real chance to be featured and to show off their skills acquired during the school year and, possibly more important, to allow students to be inspired by the skills demonstrated by the older players.
This was the seed which led to the Band-O-Rama concert concept. That particular school in Texas will be doing its 38th consecutive Band-O-Rama at the end of this school year and now many bands across Texas are copying the concept.
Six years ago, Band-O-Rama came to Pagosa Springs via band member and conductor Bill Gottschalk, who was one of the band staff members in Texas who started Band-O-Rama. Since that arrival, hundreds of Pagosa’s band students have performed not only with their individual school bands, but in the grand finale, when the stage is loaded with more than 100 student-musicians and members of the Pagosa Springs Community Band.
It is interesting to view other benefits of Band-O-Rama. Students, and thus their parents, are reminded of concert etiquette as they are given an opportunity to dress up, some for the first time. Students are mentored by more mature musicians and, over the past six years, a large number of student-musicians have been inspired to continue playing in the Community Band after their high school graduation. The band also includes current students who play in the Community Band in addition to their duties in their middle and high school bands.
This year, Band-O-Rama will be presented on April 22 in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m. There is no admission fee; however, donations are accepted at the end of the performance.
The Pagosa Springs Community Band is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt, nonprofit organization and receipts for tax purposes will be issued if requested. All proceeds collected from the concert are shared among the Community Band and the high school and middle school music departments.
Middle school band director Malinda Burnett has chosen some special music for each of the grade levels to perform for this year’s Band-O-Rama.
The sixth-grade band, the beginner level, will strut its stuff to “Go Tell Bill” by Rossini, “Erie Canal Capers,” which is a traditional American work song arranged by Pearson, and “Rock Point 5.” The seventh-grade band will perform music from the film scores of the world famous composer John Williams. Snippets of movie scores are certain to be recognized by everyone in attendance. The eighth-grade band will entertain you with two contemporary works: “Abandoned Treasure Hunt” and “Buffalo Head.” These middle school band students, numbering more than 65 in strength, will amaze you with their advancement from year to year.
The idea for a community band in Pagosa Springs existed as far back as 100 years. Please take a look at the photo which accompanies this article.
The current version of the Pagosa Springs Community Band has been in existence and offering four free concerts a year for six years, however, records do exist which date to the 1917 photograph picturing the existence of a non-school-related Pagosa Springs band. The International Band Educators website shows the photograph, but unfortunately there is no other history available. It would be very interesting to have more information.
The 1917 version shows 10 players who undoubtedly played mostly marches, so during the past 100 years the size of the Pagosa Springs Community Band has increased as well as the variety of music available to perform. Thus, the Pagosa Springs Community Band is celebrating 100 years of band music in Pagosa Springs.
We cordially invite you to attend the sixth annual Band-O-Rama at 7 p.m. on April 22 in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium. And, as always, admission is free. Donations gratefully accepted.