Band students have time to shine

By Jeff Smith

Nicholas Ries, band instructor for Hill City, conducts students in the high school band on March 29. There has been a lot of preparation that has happened for the Big Band Dance.

The Big Band Dance is coming back to Hill City. It has been a big hit the last few years and it will only get better as time goes on.

It is being held on Saturday, April 7, from 7 to 10 p.m. Doors to Gins’ Gym will open at 6 p.m.

The students have been working on most of the songs since they got back in January.

They will be mixing in some spring concert music at the Big Band performance too.

The theme, selection of songs and order of songs were chosen earlier in March.

The theme is “Around the World” so there will be a big multicultural celebration as part of the event. Alpine Inn will be providing the desserts.

Senior JJ Larson said he is excited about the event,  but at the same time it is also nerve-wracking because so many people show up for it.

Brandy Straw, another senior in the school band, said it’s nice when attendance is really high.

“The more the merrier,” Straw said.

Straw has participated in the event for all four years of high school.

They both said that it was going to be a good turnout this year.

The peak number of  attendees was around 360. They are hoping for around 300-400 people this year.

The high school band and jazz ensemble will be performing at the event. The New Horizons band out of Rapid City will also be performing jazz music throughout the night.

Children will usually join in on the dancing in a controlled environment.

Nicholas Ries, band teacher for Hill City, will be relieved when the event is over but said it will be fun and is a good event to raise money for the band.

After the desserts are paid for, the money will be put into the band fund. The band fund is used to help send students off to band camp. He said it will be a positive experience for the students who do go.

“I would love to take everybody,” Ries said.

Ries took over the band program this year.

“It’s been great. The kids are awesome and the community is super supportive,” Ries said.

He said that it is really crazy that the school year is almost done.

“I still remember what we did the first week of school like it wasn’t too long ago,” Ries said.

His favorite part of being a band director is working with such a talented group of students.

“Picking music is a challenge with this group, since I think a piece will be a challenge and then we sight-read it and the students are already playing it with a high level of musicianship and maturity,” explained Ries.

Students that are dedicated to playing instruments can join the jazz ensemble.

Jazz ensemble is a smaller and more tightly knit group of students. It consists of saxophones, trumpets, trombone and a rhythm section, with a clarinet and French horn as well. 

“Having this smaller group lets us tackle even more music that we might not be able to get to with the full high school band,” Ries said.

Straw said that students come in as freshman not knowing any of the jazz band music. Then as time goes on they will get get really good at it. The music is played in the tradition of the dance bands of the 1920s and 1930s.

Tickets are $10 for adults or $8 for students. They can be purchased at the Hill City High School office or from one of the high school band students.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, too, but those people are not guaranteed a dessert.