Band full of the best

United States Army Field Band will perform Sunday at Edison, with some students getting to join in the ensemble.

April 06, 2011|By Michael Miller,
  • Sgt. 1st Class James Wood performs with the United States Army Field Band.
Sgt. 1st Class James Wood performs with the United States…

There won't be too much pressure on Huntington Beach Union High School District students when they take the stage Sunday at Edison High School.

At least, they won't have to audition behind a screen before a panel of invisible judges, walking in on a carpeted floor that makes it impossible for those on the other side to tell they're wearing men's or women's shoes.

That's the audition process for prospective members of the United States Army Field Band, which will kick off its West Coast spring tour Sunday at Edison. Sgt. Michelle Laska, the band's tour coordinator, said openings on the roster are few and the competition for them intense.

So when band and choral students get to briefly join the ensemble Sunday, they'll know they're playing with some of the best.

The band, which formed in 1946, is one of 109 bands that represent the United States military — the largest employer of musicians in the world, according to Laska. Every year, the band's four ensembles play more than 400 shows combined, stopping at colleges, churches, parks and, most often, high schools.


"We perform in a lot of smaller townships, and usually the largest venue for that area will be their high school gym," Laska said.

Sunday will mark the band's first appearance in Huntington Beach — thanks to Alexis Booher, a former Edison parent who met members of the band at a performing arts booking conference in Indiana.

Booher, who runs a brass ensemble, invited the band to start its spring tour at Edison and got support from the district to host the free concert. On Monday, band members will visit the district's high schools to lead clinics for band and choral students.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the community of Huntington Beach and the surrounding communities, and also for the students who will have the chance to meet these folks up front and get to know them," Booher said.

Although all seats have been booked for the Sunday show, Laska said members of the public can stop by the school at 2:50 p.m. to take any unclaimed seats.

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