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Sandy Journal

Alta High Marching Band ready for season after Washington, D.C. parade

Aug 29, 2017 04:01PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Alta High School’s band marches under the Stars and Stripes in the the Washington, DC Memorial Day parade. (Alta High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

After performing in several area parades as well as marching in Washington, D.C., Alta High Marching Band is ready for its demanding fall schedule of competitions and performances.

“We’ve been practicing 40 hours per week leading up to our band camp week, which is 60 hours that week,” said Caleb Shabestari, Alta marching band director. “We learned choreography and music to our show.”

The show, “Sky Faring,” features the history of flight from the Wright brothers to the modern era, he said.

“We feature the miracle of flight from the early days of trial and error through a crash during World War II. I’ve had the idea for this as our show for a while. It’s a great fit — a simple concept that we can build upon,” Shabestari said.

The show’s choreography is written by Victor Neves, who gives the band tips during rehearsal, Shabestari said. The musical is an original composition by national composer Gary Gilroy.

In addition to marching at Alta High football games, this fall’s season will include competitions and performances on Sept. 16 at Weber State University’s Weber Review; Sept. 30 at the Bridgerland Band Invitational at Utah State University; Oct. 3 at Bingham High; Oct. 7 at the Wasatch Invitational at Herriman High; Oct. 14 at the Davis Cup at Davis High; Oct. 28 at the Mt. Timpanogos Invitational at Pleasant Grove High; and Nov. 3 at the Red Rocks State Championship at Dixie State University.

This is Alta High’s fifth season of marching band. Shabestari has been director for four years after assisting during its inaugural season.

In 2014, the marching band’s second season, Alta High brought home a trophy for winning the 2A division at the Utah Music Education Association marching band championship. This year, the school is competing at the 3A level.

While the majority of students are Alta students, other students in the area are invited to be part of the marching band. Shabestari said there are 10 students from other Canyons School District high schools participating this season.

The band is fresh off of parade season, where they performed locally in Sandy’s Fourth of July parade, Pepperwood’s Fourth of July parade and Draper’s Draper Days parade as well as the Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C..

“D.C. was just fantastic. We turned the corner on Constitution Boulevard by the National Archives and thousands, maybe upward to 5,000 just there, were watching the parade on the stairs. I’d say there were 20,000 to 30,000 along the entire mile route. We marched under a massive flag that was hanging from a crane and finished right in front of the White House,” he said.

The parade was live streamed so band members’ families who didn’t travel with them as well as classmates and people throughout the community could watch the 75-member Hawk marching band.

The band spent a few days prior visiting sites such as the Smithsonian Museums, monuments and memorials on the National Mall and the Holocaust Museum.

“It was surreal to see all the places in history books and in the movies, and then actually visit them and march right by them. It was a great learning experience for the kids to learn about the nation’s history and for five or six of them, ride on their first airplane. This is one of the biggest moments of my music career and I’m sure it will be a memorable one for the students as well,” Shabestari said.

However, he was quick to recognize that it wasn’t the band going alone, but with the help of Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan as well as the community.

“When the parade committee sent out an invitation to participate, Mayor Dolan nominated us to go. It’s been one and one-half years of planning since the invitation to actually make it happen, and a lot of support. With the community backing us, we raised $30,000 for the trip,” Shabestari said.

However, the students aren’t done with major performances. This spring, the band is teaming up with other music groups and the theater department to go on a performing arts trip to New York where they will both perform and take in some of the major sights.