Both of my teenage boys are in the Willmar marching band this summer, so I've had the thrill of enjoying their routine multiple times in the first week of competition.
They don't simply march and play, but have an intricately choreographed and musically challenging performance of "The 1812 Overture," led by Bryan Mara and Terry Brau. Last week, I deliberately arranged myself in front of the brass and drum section as they rock and roar their way through the final crescendo after the build-up of quiet brass solos. The color guard in their colorful costumes are leaping and throwing their flags as the band's sound washes over the audience.
There are a record-setting 116 students in the group, and so far, they have earned one first, two seconds and a third-place award in competition. At the Benson Band Festival, they lost to Goliath Waconia by less than two points.
They will play to the hometown crowd twice this week, first at the Kiddie Parade Thursday and then at the Willmar Fest Parade on Saturday. I predict that any observer will be blown away.
However, people need to know that the band is an endangered species: The program lacks funding after this summer. Generous community members have donated to Music Matters, but those funds are enough for only some part-time salaries, not extracurriculars like the marching band.
This stellar program has everything it needs to continue, except for funding. Please consider giving them a standing ovation when they play for us in Willmar this week. Also consider a donation to Willmar Music Matters, Box 290, Willmar, Minn., to continue funding our band, orchestra and choir programs. Thank you.