PORTLAND — The Portland High School concert band is hard at work practicing for an upcoming first-of-its-kind performance in Monument Square.
“We have never done this before, (but) we are trying to be more of a presence in the arts district and downtown,” Jayne Sawtelle, the band director, said this week.
She said the concert, which is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. June 1, would also include students from Casco Bay and Deering high schools, along with Lyman Moore Middle School.
“There are a lot of people who think that the Music Department in the Portland schools is struggling, but, although we are woefully understaffed and underfunded, we have great musicians and a very active music community,” Sawtelle said.
Her hope for the performance, which will take place at one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, is that “the public will enjoy the music and come to realize that the Portland schools band program is alive and kicking.”
She also wants people to understand that “band doesn’t just mean a marching band or those crazy, wonderful pep bands that you see at college (basketball) games,” she said. “I also hope that younger children and other students who hear us will be excited about joining band so we can get even bigger.”
In addition, Sawtelle wants “my band students to learn a bit about successfully playing outside and (to take) pride in their playing.”
She is planning a roughly 40-minute program of “mostly marches.” While the full program isn’t set yet, Sawtelle said the band will definitely play selections from the once-popular television show “Hogan’s Heroes,” as well as from the “Captain America” movies.
Other tunes will include the “Call to Victory” march by Karl L. King and the “Valdres March” by Johannes Hanssen. Sawtelle said the band will also perform what she terms “a military medley.”
“Our concert band plays serious music, as well as marches and lighter popular works, and we work hard to create art out of the notes on the page,” she said.
Sawtelle has been teaching band at Portland High for the past three years and said, “I tell the kids all the time that band is my happy place.”
“I have played in various bands since I was 12 and I want them to see band and playing music as something they can do for their entire lives, not just the few years that they are in school.”
The concert band from Portland High School will take over Monument Square in downtown Portland June 1 for a public performance.