HARLINGEN — They say the “Jazz Age” was in the Roaring Twenties, but did it end there?
Apparently not. It’s alive and well in the halls of Harlingen High School South where band students prepared a jazz rendition of “West Side Story.”
Composer Leonard Bernstein wrote the musical score for West Side Story with a decidedly jazz twist. For various reasons, that jazz flare was reworked in the now iconic presentation of the musical drama. However, Harlingen South prepared a version for the 75th Pigskin Jubilee UIL marching band contest tonight with some of those same jazz accents.
“I love that it’s a more jazzy show,” said Nicholas Tapia, drum major.
“I don’t think the school has ever done a jazz show before,” said Nicholas, 17, a senior. “This year we’re doing something different.”
Just a few miles away, Harlingen High School was taking a completely different approach to Pigskin with its show, “The Twilight Zone.”
“I am really excited and looking forward to our performance,” said Jesus Rodriguez, drum major.
The show is based on Rod Serling’s TV series, a psychological thriller of the 1960s that captivated audiences with its strange twists and turns. Fast forward, and students of the 21st century have taken charge of that shadowy unknown, “The Twilight Zone.”
HHS Band Director Maria Coronado spoke with great anticipation about the show.
“A narrator, senior Rudy Urbina, tells a story of a couple traveling through a storm, seeking shelter at a hotel on a lonely road,” she said. “But when the weary travelers enter through their hotel door, they do not realize that they have entered into the ‘Twilight Zone,’ a zone of reflective surfaces.
“The show begins with a saxophone quartet, then followed by the band playing the main theme made famous during the opening credits of the TV series,” Coronado said. “This melody is repeated throughout the show in various musical arrangements.”
It stands without explanation that Jesus, 17, is excited about such a performance. But his next statement bears special mention.
“I’m looking forward to seeing other performers and all they have to offer,” he said.
Certainly many other musicians are looking forward to seeing “The Twilight Zone” on the parade grounds of Boggus Stadium as well as the Jets and Sharks dueling it out in Harlingen South’s “West Side Story.”
Performing Leonard Bernstein’s work is no small achievement.
“One of the big challenges is playing it in a jazz style and his music is very intricate and demanding,” said Harlingen South Band Director Shane Shinsato.
He said the band students are enjoying the heady challenge of playing Bernstein’s original score for “West Side Story.”
“A lot of it was in a jazz style and they’re trying to play it in an original style,” he said.
BEING IN THE FIELD
Performing the show on a football field presented the students with new opportunities.
“We have fences in the field to show the division of the rival groups, the Sharks and the Jets,” he said.
Rehearsals went really well, said Ryan Robledo, who practiced vigorously for his trumpet solo.
“Doing it in front of hundreds of people pushes the program more and you get ready for whatever comes up,” he said.
The trumpet solo was actually performed vocally in the original piece. Adapting that to an instrumental has been especially challenging, he said, one of many facing varsity musicians at both high schools as they prepared for the main event tonight.
Only 6A bands from the lower Valley will perform today at Boggus Stadium.
WHAT: Region 28 UIL Marching Band Contest
WHERE: Boggus Stadium
TIME: Bands will begin performing at 6:45 p.m.
TIMES FOR LOCAL BANDS
– Harlingen High School — 7:30 p.m.
– San Benito High School — 7:45 p.m.
– Harlingen High School South — 8:15 p.m.