Celebrating the gift of band

Emma Shimak, A&E Writer

The Catholic Schools Band Festival is a unique band tradition that has lasted over four decades. This festival has deep roots in the Cedar Rapids Catholic School system. The band directors from All Saints, St. Pius, St. Matthew’s, St. Joseph, Immaculate Conception, St. Ludmila, St. Patrick, and St. Jude’s started planning for the festival in 1977 but did not have enough funds for it to begin. The Catholic Schools Band Festival officially began back inFebruary of 1978 at Immaculate Conception School with only middle schoolers. The festival kept growing each year and eventually Regis High School and LaSalle High School joined. Currently, the festival includes the Xavier High School, St. Joseph Middle School, Regis Middle School, and Lasalle Middle School bands. The performers are separated into three age groups: high school, seventh through eighth grade, and sixth grade. The festival took place on Wednesday February 9, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. The preparation for the festival is a day-long endeavor, starting at the beginning of the school day and ending at 6:30 pm, not accounting for the time it takes to tear down. The middle schoolers perform three songs, while Xavier students performed a few well known Disney pieces including, “The Mandalorian,” “A Whole New World,” “Raiders March” and “Bare Necessities.” Xavier band members have been hard at work on these pieces since the start of the semester. Xavier junior, Alicia Mutasingwa, enjoys the middle school aspect of this event, reminiscing on her involvement in it when she went to St. Joe’s Middle School. “It’s a great chance for the middle schoolers to interact with us, as well as get them excited for the high school band,” Mutasingwa said. “I love preparing for this concert because I remember how much fun I had participating in it when I was in middle school and it’s exciting to create that same experience for them. We are playing some super fun songs from ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Aladdin’ and many more movies.” Lynn Mann was a part of making this idea for a festival a reality. Mann first started off as a director at St. Patrick and St. Ludmila, moved to St. Jude’s, and finished at LaSalle before retiring. She was one of the first directors to have her band be a part of the festival. She spoke very highly of this band festival and only had positive things to say about it. “…The original goal of the directors, back in 1977, is still there with the goal of our students playing in a larger band, with students they will be going to high school with, and to make good quality music together! The band festival has improved over the years in the quality of music, in the organizing of the event, and the size of the event… The credit goes to the directors who have carried on the tradition and keep improving the tradition,” Mann said, “ I feel a part of the festival even though I have retired.” Sophomore Xavier band member, Leah Ambrosy, sang praises of the festival and talked of how excited she was to finally be a high schooler in the event. “I love the Catholic Schools Band Festival. I remember being in the concert years ago when I was in middle school, and it really got me interested in being a part of band at Xavier,” Ambrosy said, “We prepared for the concert by practicing both inside and outside of class. I can’t wait for the middle schoolers to hear our songs, they’re super fun!” The high schoolers are ready to get back to participating in the festival, especially because the last two years being canceled due to COVID-19. The high school band put in a lot of hard work for the festival and was excited to share their love of band with the middle schoolers. One thing about being able to watch it was that admittance to the event was free, however donations were accepted. For those who missed it this year, the Xavier band’s next performances open to the public include the Tallcorn Jazz Festival, Liberty Jazz Festival, Coe College Jazz Summit, Corridor Jazz Project Concert and Large Group Band Concert. Xavier band has had many opportunities to perform for others’ enjoyment and collaborate with those with a similar passion.