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Bands in step for showcase

October 13, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- It's not by coincidence that music soars from brass, woodwinds and percussion across a stadium.

And it's not happenstance that teenage color guards execute choreographed passages while skillfully tossing and catching flags and sabres.

One of their goals is to make their performances look effortless, but field presentations of high school marching bands are anything but. The performances are the result of talent and study, practice and discipline.

Bands from Washington County Public Schools gathered Tuesday evening at the South Hagerstown High School stadium to celebrate and exhibit their skills at the 33rd annual Showcase of Marching Bands.

Rob Hovermale, Washington County Public Schools Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts, said the seven participating bands typically perform halftime shows at football games and compete in weekend competitions.

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"This is an exhibition for all the county bands to perform their field shows," Hovermale said. "Tonight is not a competition. It's a showcase. But (the bands) play like it's a competition. This has become a real tradition."

Hovermale estimated that more than 3,000 people attended the event.

The North Hagerstown High School "Hub" Band, which hosted the event, opened the program with the national anthem. After each band performed, all seven groups combined their talents to perform "God Bless America" under the direction of North band director Jessica Manor.

Kacey Hughes, 17, is drum major for the South Hagerstown High School "Rebel" Band. Hughes said playing with all the other bands is "sort of unifying."

"Usually we go to competitions as rivals, but tonight we come to play together and show everyone what we can do," Hughes said. "When we play with all the other bands, it almost gives you chills. There are so many people playing together."

Hughes said the evening is exciting, too, because a number of band alumni attend to support their alma maters.

Christian Ernst, 18, a student at Frostburg University, was among the alumni who attended. He played the bass drum for four years at Clear Spring High School and graduated in 2009.

"I just wanted to come back to watch," Ernst said. "It's kind of nice to see the other bands for once without having to be out there."

Amanda Norris is a 1999 graduate of Hancock High School. She was the school band's drum major. Now a paraprofessional at South Hagerstown High School, Norris attended the showcase with co-workers.

"Ten years ago, I was out there on the field," she said. "The Showcase is always a fun opportunity for kids to represent their home schools. I wanted to come out to support them."

Sharon Kronawetter is co-president of band boosters at North Hagerstown High School. Her son Andy, a junior, plays in the band's drumline.

"Tonight, the kids can show people what they've got," Kronawetter said. "People get to see how good they are, and all those hours of practice pay off."

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