Overcoming the Odds: Bands Finally Perform Live

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Chris Shields, Head Editor

Back in October of 2020, things looked unfortunately dim for the Helena High music department. With the denial of live performance opportunities, covid cases once again on the rise, and no foreseeable hope of phasing up in sight, it tragically seemed as though the band program was working toward a goal they would never achieve. 

Band Director Cody Hollow has worked “with different administrators since September to get some musical performances approved.” After being turned down multiple times, the school board finally approved a live performance which took place last month on Tuesday, March 23rd. 

Although the audience was limited and safety precautions made things look a little different than usual, the band kids finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Not only had the band kids never performed a concert quite like this one, but Mr. Hollow had never conducted in a setting like this. “It was interesting to have such a small audience and for the audience to be so far away. It was also weird only having one band perform every hour,” Hollow said.  

Hollow left Townsend to succeed previous band director Robert Loveridge during the thick of the covid pandemic. He was unable to perform his final prepared recital with his old bands, so this concert was his redemption of sorts. Regarding this transition, Hollow said, “it had been over a year since I had done any type of performance with my students.  I was most excited for the talented band students at HHS to have an opportunity to showcase their skills. It was also great to get my first concert here in the books!” 

Four ensembles played their hearts out on Tuesday in the Helena High gymnasium. The Freshman Band, Concert Band, Wind Symphony, and Jazz Band showcased what they have learned thus far this year. “Some of the bands have been working on their pieces off and on since the beginning of the school year. Some were more recent additions from a month or so ago,” Hollow explained.  

Each performer was allowed two guests, and guests socially distanced in the upper bleachers in keeping with coronavirus safety precautions. Even though the attendance was restricted, the concert was live streamed on YouTube and Facebook so others could watch as well. 

Looking forward, the bands have big plans for what comes next. “We are starting to work on some Pep Band music for Vigilante Day and also starting new music for our spring performances.” Both have sights set on future performances and playing opportunities that will make the rest of their year worthwhile. “We are planning on having a full band performance at the end of May.  I’m looking at May 25th for that concert.  I’m hoping to allow a slightly bigger audience and have the bands all perform during the same concert,” Mr. Hollow said. 

Although the layout of the concert, the spectator situation, and the road to get to this moment were all abnormal to say the least, Mr. Hollow and the HHS band program showed that the coronavirus was not going to stand in their way of pursuing their passions and performing for the public. “Given all the challenges we faced learning music this year, I was pleased with how all the bands performed.  It has been a tough but rewarding school year.  I’m very excited to see how far we will be able get with a full two months of full band before our next concert,” Hollow said.  We all anxiously await to see what Mr. Hollow can pull off next, ideally with fewer restrictions in place. 

 

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