Pioneer Honor Band

Seventeen students attend Pioneer Honor Band

By Destry Groth

The director raises his baton, gives the band the beat and cues the first note.

On January 23, seventeen students from the Sacred Heart band went to Nebraska City Lourdes for the Pioneer Conference Honor Band. This year’s honor band was under the direction of Dr. Jay Gilbert.

The five schools in attendance included HTRS, Johnson-Brock, Nebraska City Lourdes, Pawnee City and Sacred Heart. Students attending from Sacred Heart included juniors Thomas Aiken, Evan Bailey, Destry Groth, Ethan Neddenriep, Henry Rottinghaus, Cole Schawang, and Tate Wilcox, sophomores Brookelyn Bebermeyer, Avery Santo, Kyler Sipple, Cole Taft and Daycee Witt, and freshmen Renee Drummond, Willa Fritz, and Trayce Stutheit.

Imagine a draft, but for instruments and students; that’s how students were selected for this honor band. The directors take the roster of kids who are interested and fill sections. They try to get as many students as possible in the honor band that want to attend.

Students were given five pieces of music to practice on their own time. With all the school cancellations due to weather, students did not have much class time to work on the pieces, and the students could not bring instruments or music home to practice.

Pioneer Conference Honor Band gives students in the conference a unique opportunity, the chance to work together. Students in the conference are always competing against each other for wins in tournaments. It makes all students tense and brings out the competitiveness of athletes. But band is something different, you all must work together to put on a performance. Music brings people together, even students in athletic rivalries.

Before students started rehearsing, they met the director of this year’s Conference Honor Band, Dr. Jay Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert was the director of bands for Doane University before retiring in 2022. Before he taught at Doane, he was the Assistant Director of Bands at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He has conducted honor bands all over the country, in locations such as Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and even in Canada.

Upon arrival, band members immediately got started practicing as an ensemble. Students practiced together for at least six hours before performing. Students from Sacred Heart that attended got a blessing the next morning with a much need two-hour late start.

The selected students performed a concert that same evening in the Nebraska City Lourdes gymnasium that was open to the public. “The music was a lot easier than last year, but it sounded a lot better this year,” sophomore Cole Taft said. The theme last year was Disney music, however there wasn’t a theme at this year’s Pioneer Conference Honor Band.

The performance opened with a piece played by Nebraska City Lourdes band, with selections from “The Phantom of the Opera.” Lourdes students then joined the other band students and played a lively arrangement of The National Anthem to open the concert.

Dr. Gilbert introduced all the songs and gave history on the pieces that the band played. The second piece was Falcon Fanfare, an upbeat song that got the program started in a fast fashion. Next came a slow, melodical piece titled Bist du Bei mir (If Thou Be Near). The fourth piece, Beyond the Darkness, was a musical journey about a trip through space. The final piece was a march called All for One, One for All.

At the end of the performance, the director energetically cuts off the final note and smiles over the band. The gym fills with the sound of clapping hands that signal a job well done.