EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
BURNET — With about a month before the University Interscholastic League marching competition, Burnet High School band director Jason Jones has put the Esprit de Corps smack dab in the middle of one of the toughest contests he could find.
“We’re going in there knowing we probably won’t win it. We would like to win our division, but it’s really about getting feedback on our show as we get ready for UIL,” Jones said. “It’s also a chance to see some of the best bands around. You have Vista Ridge, Cedar Park, all the Leander schools there, and bands from around the state.”
The Esprit de Corps, which is comprised of the band, flag corps and Highlandettes drill team, is competing in the Bands of America’s regional championship on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, 10211 W. Parmer Lane in Round Rock. The gates open at 7:30 a.m with preliminary competition from 7:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Gates reopen at 6:45 p.m. for the finals, which start at 7:45 p.m.
Burnet takes the field with its routine, “The Shadow of Darkness,” at 1 p.m. during the preliminary contest.
The preliminary round features 27 bands with 10 advancing to the final round.
“This competition is early, but we use it as an aim point to get our complete show together,” Jones said.
The band began working on its performance in the summer but has added pieces each week. By Saturday, the group will take the complete show to the contest.
As much as it’s about competing in the event, Jones said it’s also about getting important feedback.
“These contests bring in some of the best judges from around the country,” he said. “They give us some great feedback, and we’ll take that, tweak our performance, and get ready for UIL.”
The district/region marching contest is Saturday, Oct. 21. As a non-advancing year for Burnet (UIL alternates school classifications that can advance to state every other year), the district/region is the band’s only UIL competition, but Jones and the Esprit de Corps take it very seriously.
That’s one reason they chose to compete in this Saturday’s event, which features bands that have won, or placed high, at the state marching contests in the past several years. Two years ago, at the state marching contests in the then-5A classification, Cedar Park, Vandegrift, Leander, and Vista Ridge went 1, 2, 3, and 4. While Burnet won’t see them in UIL competition, they will see them Saturday as well as other larger bands.
Along with the judges’ feedback, Jones and band leaders want to expose the students to those bands as well.
“When you see these amazing bands out there, it just makes you want to do better,” he added.
While the Esprit de Corps won’t have the chance to advance to the state marching contest this year (they will next), they will get to perform in the state venue, the Alamodome in San Antonio. The Burnet band will perform Nov. 3-4 in the Bands of America’s Super Regional.
Tickets for this Saturday’s regional contest are $27 for a day pass (includes preliminaries and finals); $18 for a preliminary pass; and $18 for a finals pass. Tickets for ages 11-18 are $5 off the general admission tickets/passes. Children 10 and younger get in free.
Even though the Esprit de Corps doesn’t take the field until 1 p.m., Jones encouraged people to come out before that time.
“Anyone who wants to see some great bands, come out and spend the day,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”