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Esko Band is turning heads around the region

The Esko High School band has taken on a whirlwind of performances and area competitions this spring.

The band presented two jazz ensembles at the Head of the Lakes Jazz Festival at the University of Minnesota Duluth on March 9. It also participated in the Minnesota State High School League's music competition on March 18 and 19, where the concert band earned three Superior ratings with scores of 39, 39 and 38 (out of 40) on Division 1 music.

The judges for the band were Mark Whitlock (UMD band director), Pam Bustos (University of Wisconsin Superior band director) and John Hussy (retired band director).

The Jazz Ensemble One also earned a Superior rating with the score of 40. Not to be outdone, Hannah Erickson, with accompanist Josie Stracek, also scored a perfect 40 on her flute solo. She also received best performance of the day from her judge.

All of the following groups earned a Superior rating: Jake Siptroth and Bethany Kemi scored a 39 on their flute duet; Whitney Carlson and Katie Boettcher scored 38 on their clarinet duet; the sax quintet comprised of Jace Brademan, Jennah Calverly, Isaiah Salinas, Zach Luipakka and Matt Sunde scored a 38; and the trumpet quartet of Will Omberg, Jacob Laundergan, Josh Luipakka and Austin Pera scored a 35.

The flute trio received an Excellent rating with a 33 score. The players were Chloe Fredrickson, Emily Saphner and Kelsey Rye. They were accompanied by Katie Boettcher on the piano.

The pep band was very busy performing at 10 games between March 2 and 23, including many bus trips to UMD and Minneapolis with the girls and boys basketball teams.

From March 23- 29, 53 band students traveled first to Cleveland, Ohio, then to New York City and finally to Chicago. Check out the group's Facebook page, "Esko Band Trip," to see many pictures. Band students visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, the United Nations, Intrepid, Central Park, the "Bean," and many more.

The band's performance season continues with several more performances this spring. On Monday, April 29, Esko's jazz bands will play at their fourth annual Big Band Dance, this year at Grandma's Sports Garden in Duluth from 6-9 p.m. This is a fundraiser for the Esko Music Boosters. Tickets are sold at the door for $10/person and $30/family. There will be a pizza buffet and silent auction. Buffet prices are $9.99 for adults, $6.99 for ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 and under. Silent auction items can be viewed ahead of time on the Esko School website under the Esko Community tab, Esko Music Boosters. Some of the band's outstanding alumni will join in.

The elementary school's band concert is scheduled for Thursday, May 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 14, will be the band's final jazz concert. This will be a very special concert as the group will perform with The Big Time Jazz Orchestra. It has been many years since Big Time last played at Esko and students back then were inspired by their performance. The jazz bands will perform music from the MSHSL contest, and Big Time will play music from Stan Kenton, Gordon Goodwin, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck and more. This show will start at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.