SMAHS bringing 'new life' to the field

The St. Marys Area High School Marching Dutchmen are bringing ancient mythology to life during their 2011 halftime show, entitled "Rise of the Phoenix."The band is under new director Adam Brooks, who has taken over the reins from former director Chris Gankosky.Among the band's repertoire this year are pieces that including "Sunrise at Angel's Gate," "Flight of the Thunderbird," "Phoenix Lullaby" -- all written and arranged by Shawn Halquist-- and "Moto Perpetuo," written by Key Poulan. Brooks explained that the phoenix often represents rebirth; in ancient mythology, the phoenix is said to have lived 1,000 years, then perishes in a whirlwind of fire, storm and ash. The phoenix then rises up from the ash and is reborn."Our show will have three parts: birth, life and rebirth, featured by each of the tunes," Brooks said.He added that the show highlights many soloists and small ensemble playing."Our large percussion section is always fun to watch because they play so many instruments and add a great deal of musicality to the performers on the field," Brooks said. "Our colorguard presents some great dance and movement work with flags and rifles."Many times during the show the audience will witness the band and colorguard interacting in movements and in drill design. "It is neat to see how they can intermix to create some great 'hit points' during the show," Brooks noted.In addition to all home football games, the band will participate at seven competitions, including one in DuBois today, Oct. 8 in Tyrone, Oct. 15 in Conemaugh Township, Oct. 22 at the Tournament of Band Chapter Championships at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Nov. 6 at the Atlantic Coast Championships at Hershey Stadium. They also performed in exhibition on Sept. 10 in Kane and at the "Sounds of Autumn" band competition, co-hosted with Elk County Catholic High School, at Dutch Country Stadium."People should come out to our shows to watch excellent young musicians and performers present an entertaining show," Brooks said. "All of the students and staff work extremely hard to put on a good show. You will be amazed at the performing ability of these young adults."This year's band consist of 30 musicians and 15 colorguard members led by senior drum majors Brent Bartlett and Claire Waggoner."Our numbers are a little low compared to past years, so we are always working and trying new things to increase our band size. We will be trying even harder this coming year to gain new 8th and 9th graders for next year," Brooks said.Work on this year's show began in June with a mini-band camp, where the group worked on simple marching techniques and basic playing. It was during the two-week band camp in August that musicians and colorguard began learning drill work and practicing show music. The band continues to perfect the show during regular practices on Mondays and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m.