Navy Band performs with local students

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  • Nine students smile in excitement after performing with the Navy Band.

    Photo Courtesy of Harrisonburg High School Band

  • The Navy Band performs on stage at HHS.

    Photo Courtesy of Harrisonburg High School Band

  • Students from local schools and members of the Navy band perform together.

    Photo Courtesy of Harrisonburg High School Band

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Since 1925, The United States Navy Band has been performing music all over the country, inspiring patriotism, representing our nation and raising awareness for the US Naval Force. With six ensembles composed from 170 musicians, they continue to constantly play in a wide range of venues. Their mission to educate younger musicians shows clearly as they transition from playing at presidential ceremonies to playing in public high school’s auditoriums. The Navy Band visited HHS to perform March 19.

“The concert band [performed for us]. They do a national tour each year in different regions of the country. This year was our region. We submitted interested and they accepted us,” HHS band director, Daniel Upton said.

Along with getting to watch the well-respected band perform, select students from all over the district, including senior Irene Liu, were given the opportunity to play alongside of them for the Washington Post March by JP Sousa.

“It was me, Alice McNett, Sam Schaeffer, Nathan Ringle [and more from other schools]. Our band directors basically just asked us if we wanted to play with the Navy Band, but I think Upton mentioned something about how he was mainly just inviting people who had gotten into All-State in the past few years,” Liu said.

Being an all-Virginia clarinetist, Liu has performed countless times in front of all different size crowds, but this performance was unlike all others.

“The experience was a lot of fun. Playing with a different ensemble is usually interesting because you get to hear different things and each ensemble plays differently, but playing with a professional military band is a whole other level since they’re all literally spotless and perfect with their playing. I was a little scared of messing up when I played with them, which I did, since they’re all so good and I didn’t want to look bad, but overall it was just a super cool and educational experience,” Liu said.

While some students performed, others stayed all evening helping the band set up. Another HHS clarinetist, freshman Mikey Paniagua, was one of the students who dedicated all of his time to helping.

“It was pretty cool seeing the behind the scene of the band. I helped set up some chairs and stands but mainly focused on signs for the members of the band. They do have a very different set up than our band it was cool to see the differences. Instead of the formation being a complete arc some of the rows were straight rather than curved. Also, clarinets, instead of being in one complete row, the clarinet ones are in the first row and the twos are in the second and threes in the third row. After we setup the stage we had to exit the fine arts area because they search the area before they arrive with K9s and police to check for explosives. It was a great experience, and I would do it again if they come another time,” Paniagua said.

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