University of Washington Husky Marching Band to perform at Issaquah football game

September 25, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

J. W. ‘Bill’ Isotalo (left), a 1950 Issaquah High School graduate and Korean War veteran home on leave during Labor Day 1951, and brother Leo Isotalo, beginning his sophomore year at IHS, wait for the school’s band to form up near the old community church prior to the Labor Day parade. Contributed

The Issaquah High School football field will be covered in a sea of purple-and-gold this Friday evening, when more than 200 members of the University of Washington marching band take the field to entertain spectators before the Eagles take on Roosevelt.

The Husky marching band and the UW pom squad will perform a pregame and halftime show at the Sept. 28 contest.

Issaquah High School band director Patrick Holen had been trying to get the band to come to a home game for years and his persistence finally paid off. When the UW band director notified Holen of an open date, he didn’t hesitate to grab the opportunity to host the band.

“I started teaching here in 2001 and ever since I started, I always wanted to get a relationship with university bands across the region,” Holen said. “So, I was very quick to say yes to the band director. Now, it’s a reality and they’re coming out and we’re very excited to have them.”

Issaquah High School must pay for the band’s transportation and arrange to feed the group, but that was no problem, Holen said. With the support of the IHS Associated Student Body, the IHS band and the IHS Booster Club, the visit was quickly financed.

Holen said spectators should get to the game before 6:30 p.m. to watch the Husky marching band perform its regular pregame show. Then at the half, the band will do a modified version of its halftime show accompanied by the high school band.

“They’ll do a version of their halftime show but include the Issaquah High School band, cheer, drill and dance teams,” he said. “So, just imagine 240 members of the Husky band, 120 of the Issaquah band and then all the cheerleaders, and the pom squad from UW will be there as well. It’s very safe to say we will probably have close to 400 people participating at once.”

While preparing to host the UW band, Holen and district spokeswoman Sara Niegowski discovered that the relationship between Issaquah High and the Husky marching band goes back nearly 90 years, when UW donated its uniforms to the high school.

“Back in the 1920s when the marching band was kind of starting here, the University of Washington donated their old uniforms to Issaquah High School and I guess that’s how we got the purple-and-gold started here, it was the old Husky band uniforms,” Holen said.

Holen said he is glad the community gets to experience this special event, but he really did it so that his band students have the chance to see the opportunities available to them after high school.

“It’s really for the kids,” he said. “Just because you leave your high school career, doesn’t mean you can’t do music beyond that. It’s going to mean a lot to my students. Seeing that fine band like that will really show kids, students and parents what band can be like in a college setting, and I think that’s really what we hope to accomplish.”

It’s not often that a major college marching band visits a high school venue, so Holen encouraged the entire Issaquah community, Huskies and Cougars alike, to come and witness the show.

“This doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “I’m not going to say once-in-a-lifetime, that’s a little dramatic, but I think it’s quite an experience to see that big of a band at a high school venue.”

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