Drum majors from Utica, Henry Ford II, Eisenhower and Stevenson high schools give salutes at  Swinehart Field in Shelby Township Sept. 23.

Drum majors from Utica, Henry Ford II, Eisenhower and Stevenson high schools give salutes at Swinehart Field in Shelby Township Sept. 23.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Band-A-Rama to trumpet repertoire of rock, showtunes

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 27, 2019


STERLING HEIGHTS — The bands are getting back together in the Utica Community Schools district.

As part of an annual fall tradition, the marching bands from UCS’ four main high schools will strike up Band-A-Rama Oct. 6 at Stevenson High School’s Runkel Field.

Per tradition, the four high school bands will start the event by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together. Then each marching band will perform its own routine.

Christopher Traskal, Eisenhower High School’s director of bands, is excited for the students to gather for a night of music, including performing for their peers. He said the schools often start picking music back in April, following it up with months of practice and effort.

“I think in many ways this is our biggest performance of the year,” he said. “(The students) always want to put their best foot forward.”

According to Traskal, the Henry Ford II Falcons will put on a show called “Women Who Rock,” playing music by female music artists such as Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. The Utica High Chieftains will perform songs from “The Greatest Showman,” a movie musical about P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman. The Stevenson Titans will perform some of Freddie Mercury’s hits with “We Will Rock You! The Music of Queen.”

Traskal said his own program with the Eisenhower Eagles will feature songs with some connection to other “Williams” under the theme “Will Power!” In other words, it will include music by Billy Joel, will.i.am and John Williams, not to mention the “William Tell Overture.”

“I think I’m witty,” Traskal said. “I try.”

Traskal said that, generally, the band routines are 12-13 minutes long — around eight minutes of solid music and the rest being talking and presentation. He said the band programs reprise the routines at home football games, band competitions, festivals and more.

Eisenhower senior Emilia Serraiocco is a drum major who also plays the mellophone. She said she likes Band-A-Rama because it’s a chance to see all her fellow classmates and friends perform.

“Performing for my peers really gives me a rush of adrenaline, because you always want to do your best,” she said.

Band-A-Rama will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at Runkel Field, 39701 Dodge Park Road in Sterling Heights. Admission costs $5 for adults and high schoolers; younger students attend for free. Event proceeds will benefit the Louis Gonda Memorial Music Scholarship, which pays for band students’ music education opportunities.

Find out more information by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.