Bandtasia is a brilliant celebration of music, spirit, and community


Julie Darin

A couple of snapshots from Bandtasia, including the full Marching Band and Color Guard.

One of my most beloved mother-daughter traditions was our annual outings to Bandtasia. I have always been in awe of the extravagant performances FHC’s marching band puts on, and it’s one of the few events that has captivated the attention of both my young self and my current self to this day. 

Whether it be the aspect of nostalgia, my admiration for many of the band’s members, or a need for any event to break the drag of my weekly routine, my genuine excitement for Bandtasia was almost reaching the threshold of too much—almost.

Even as I was just walking into the lobby of the Fine Arts Center, the experience had already begun. Cheerful parent volunteers did the absolute most to spread their contagious joy, and excited children dancing around with light-up foam glow sticks guided that joy into the auditorium.

With an atmosphere as perfectly planned as this one, and the Jazz Ensemble setting up center stage, my expectations for the show skyrocketed, only to be met and exceeded within the first five minutes. 

With an atmosphere as perfectly planned as this one, and the Jazz Ensemble setting up center stage, my expectations for the show skyrocketed, only to be met and exceeded within the first five minutes. 

The Jazz Ensemble performed four pieces, all unique yet cohesive. “Switch in Time,” a jazz classic originally composed by Sammy Nestico, was a wonderfully upbeat start to the night. It was performed with such energy and excitement, and I was amazed by how individuals I passed every day in school lit up an auditorium. 

Their performance continued with an awe-inspiring Duke Ellington classic, “Caravan,” along with “When I Fall in Love” and “Hold on I’m Comin’.” These pieces were not only packed with astounding soloists but also an overall confident and passionate musicality to be expected from such an incredible group.

This performance proved yet again the pure dedication, talent, and passion of not only the performers but also the incredible Director of Bands, Laura Zilhaver.

Then, the lights went up in the house, beginning one of my favorite parts of the whole performance. “Eat ‘em up Fanfare” began to echo through the building as rangers flooded in through the aisles—this exciting event never gets old. The audience involvement is something that I’ve always admired with Bandtatsia; as I stood alongside many other excited audience members during the performance of FHC’s fight song, I couldn’t help the amazement of the togetherness I was feeling.

As the excellently organized chaos of a beautiful color guard performance and a comparatively compact band ensued, drum majors Tara Brace and Ellie McDowell proved why they hold their positions. They each gracefully conducted their respective pieces, adding excellently to the illusion that this performance was easy. 

After a brilliantly executed “Motown Opener” and the conclusion of their wonderfully balanced “Production 1,” including a repertoire of pieces from the Jackson 5, the drumline began their fifth quarter. With the same level of serious-faced excitement and enthralling tricks, it was very enjoyable to watch this performance in such a different and climate-controlled atmosphere. 

Another incredible presentation of the band’s capabilities to create a perfectly balanced and impactful sound concluded the show with its “Motown Closer.” Each piece was performed with the same amount of energy and power, making it seem like this music was fresh and exciting to the performers as well and not the reality of the hundreds of practices they all have under their belt. 

This event is one perfectly crafted for the community. Looking side to side and knowing that many of the young children in the audience could possibly one day be a part of this performance amazes me. As someone who has gone to Bandtasia nearly every year possible, I will never get tired of the sense of community, spirit, and joy that it provides. 

No matter who you are, or what age you are, Bandtasia is something that anyone can appreciate. The effort alone is something to be in awe of. Whether this event is an annual reminder of a deep desire to join the band, an exciting night to explore music, or a way to support FHC, Bandtasia has opportunities for everyone to have an incredible experience.