The Hastings High School Marching Band really can’t get a break — at least in terms of an off-season in the summer. The band, directed by Emily Chandler and Thomas Wentzler, moves each year from the spring season of marching in parades to the fall season and preparation for competitions and marching at football games. The week of July 24 – 29 finds the ensemble in their fall training camp and, for the first time, on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. And while the term “camp” may conjure memories of campfires and marshmellows, the members of the decorated marching ensemble from Hastings are discovering that a marching band camp comes with a lot of hard work.
The intense, 6-day schedule includes hours of rehearsal in the classrooms and performance halls in the Schaefer Fine Arts Complex on the Gustavus campus. Split into sections, everyone from the drum major to the color guard to the drum line are doing double — or triple — time. Morning rehearsals are followed by lunch and, you guessed it, afternoon rehearsals. Once the afternoon rehearsals are over and dinner is finished, the entire ensemble moves to Hollingsworth Field for an evening practice where the music meets the turf. There is some down time when the musicians have free time to enjoy the pool, play some volleyball or take time to walk around the campus. Even the weather has cooperated, making the nights in the college residence halls a great deal cooler. And everyone agrees that the food is great.
However, for the members of the band, it’s worth the hard work. Senior percussionist Miranda Poncelet is attending her fourth marching band camp and understands the schedule. “The week gives us the time to grow and connect, both as a family and as musicians.” Junior Andrew Tank feels honored to be at at Gustavus with its long and rich music tradition and sees the week as a “great opportunity to spend a lot of time with the music.” Younger brother Josh added that the camp gives them time to “bounce ideas back and forth, without a lot of other distractions.” Others in the section agreed that fewer distractions give them more time to concentrate on the music. They also agreed that it leaves a great impression of Gustavus.
Life at Gustavus is not new for one of the directors working with the camp. Josh Wahlstrom, a 2007 graduate of Gustavus, knows Schaefer Fine Arts Complex well. Although Josh was a political science and criminal justice double major, he also earned minors in music and management and spent a great deal of time in the center practicing and performing with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Jazz Lab Band and Symphony Orchestra. He credits his music teachers and mentors at Gustavus, Douglas Nimmo, Bob Adney, Steve Wright and Rick Orpen, with giving him the opportunity to continue in music while pursuing other academic majors.
Currently working in Brokerage Operations at US Bancorp Investments, Inc. in St. Paul, Wahlstrom remains connected to his high school. While at Gustavus, he worked with the marching band program at Hastings in the summer. Now, twice a week, he returns to his alma mater to work with the percussionists in the marching band. The music they are preparing during camp is the band’s fall program, Undercover, composed by Gary Gilroy. The arrangement the percussionists will be playing was arranged by Josh Wahlstrom and Mark Diischer. While Josh is working with the “pit,” Joe Holmes, is working with the “batterie.” (For those who don’t speak Marching Band, the percussion section is split. The pit, or front ensemble, includes instruments which do not march and are generally standing directly in front of the drum major making music while the batterie, which includes the more mobile percussion, marches with the color guard and the brass and woodwind players on the field.)
While Josh will return to his day job with US Bancorp Investments, Inc. on Monday morning, the Hastings High School Marching Band will work through the day to get as much time with the music as their time on the campus allows. On Monday afternoon, they’ll pack their equipment and head back to Hastings and the distractions of their busy lives. They are facing a busy schedule of game, festivals and competitions through the fall but, with the work accomplished over these 6 music-filled days in camp at Gustavus, they’ll be ready for anything.
Information on the band’s fall program, Gary Gilroy’s Undercover, and its schedule are available by clicking on the band’s website at this link: Hastings Marching Band.