Local high school marching bands perform at pigskin competition

BY J. EDWARD MORENO

Thirteen high school marching bands waited anxiously Saturday for their turn to perform at the annual UIL Pigskin competition at the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Stadium in Pharr. For some, it’s been about six weeks since they began practicing the routine.

Luckily, unlike the 100-degree weather they endured the rest of the weeks they practiced their performances, Saturday night was a brisk evening marking the end of a weeklong cold front. The day before, the PSJA High School marching band was practicing until 7 p.m., as they usually do. Their production takes a musical interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” featuring music such as Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

Only 6A and 3A bands are able to advance to the next round this year. PSJA, a 6A band of about 180 students, feels they have the potential to score a 1 out of 5 this year and advance. Tensions were high, but at this point, however, they already have it down, at least according to Drum Major Daniel Heredia.

“I’m really, really excited,” the 16-year-old said. “The things we’re working on now are super tiny details. I like to compare it an artist an artist making a masterpiece; at the very end it’s not the whole picture, but the finer details that separate it from the rest.”

Though they’ve only begun practicing this semester, a lot goes into polishing such a large production. Jon Taylor, director of fine arts at the PSJA school district, said the music is typically chosen as soon as one marching season ends. Then comes the choreography, then props, then weeks of practice.

“It’s very involved,” Taylor said. “It takes a lot to put a show together.”

In all, the process takes about a year, and Saturday was the day that they’ve been working toward.

John Garza, the PSJA High School band director, feels just about as confident as his students. He has been their band director for three years, when the band consisted of about 80 students, compared to the 180 that are in this year’s show.

Later in the evening, his band along with the 12 others would file into sections of the football field and wait for their name to be called, hoping the number one would follow.

“They’re the best group that I’ve had,” Garza said. “They’re very talented, but more importantly, they work super hard… Trophies are great, but the experience the kids get out of this is more important to us.”