The Mercer Island High School marching band performed twice on Sept. 19 at the Seattle Seahawks’ regular season home opener versus the Tennessee Titans at Lumen Field. The Islanders first took the field for a special pregame concert featuring Seattle’s Macklemore and singer-guitarist Ayron Jones and provided visual support sans instruments. At halftime, the band played the CBS Sports/NFL theme. Tennessee beat the Seahawks, 33-30, in overtime. Photo courtesy of Joe Chen

The Mercer Island High School marching band performed twice on Sept. 19 at the Seattle Seahawks’ regular season home opener versus the Tennessee Titans at Lumen Field. The Islanders first took the field for a special pregame concert featuring Seattle’s Macklemore and singer-guitarist Ayron Jones and provided visual support sans instruments. At halftime, the band played the CBS Sports/NFL theme. Tennessee beat the Seahawks, 33-30, in overtime. Photo courtesy of Joe Chen

Strike up the band, and some Seahawks football

Mercer Island High School musicians get in on the action.

Football fans at Lumen Field in Seattle got a double shot of the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) marching band at the Seahawks’ regular season home opener.

The Islanders first took the field on the afternoon of Sept. 19 for a special pregame concert featuring Seattle’s Macklemore and singer-guitarist Ayron Jones and provided visual support sans instruments. At halftime, the 209 band members were armed with their instruments and played the CBS Sports/NFL theme. In the end, Tennessee beat the Seahawks, 33-30, in overtime.

This season, the musicians sport specialized personal protective equipment instrument masks and have bell covers on their instruments during their performances at Lumen Field and at MIHS sporting events. According to band manager Jennifer McLellan, the Mercer Island School District ordered the masks for their student musicians in grades 5-12. Masks and bell covers are required in all of their band classes.

After logging copious hours of rehearsals, the MIHS band was raring to go come NFL game time. And they nailed their performance, said senior drum major Kaisa Olson.

“It was so much better than I thought it would (be). There was a little rough spot where four bars were cut out of the music, so we had to speed up some of the cues, but overall, every set was hit so nicely. It was just perfect,” she said.

Ben Kinder, also a senior drum major, was thrilled to be “coming off a year of COVID where we had done so little and then going into something that is such an amazing opportunity.”

Rounding out the drum major trio, senior Jaya Woerner noted that everyone involved in band is there for each other, from connecting with the directors to map out rehearsals, to creating an inclusive community, to preparing for the mammoth stage with the Seahawks.

Woerner said it’s rewarding to see the hard-working band put on a solid show.

“Honestly, it’s the best feeling. It’s the feeling of we just put in so many hours, and (it’s gratifying) just to see everything come together,” she said.

Parker Bixby, co-director/teacher, praised the drum majors for stepping into their integral roles of conducting the band, learning cues, helping the musicians find their sets and more.

Over the years, MIHS has forged a relationship with the Seahawks’ organization and the locals have cranked out tunes at Hawks games five times since 2008. Bixby has been involved with the program for all five performances and said the band has delivered on each occasion.

“We feel really honored that the Seahawks continue to come to us and trust us with performing in these huge entertainment events, and we couldn’t be more proud of our students and our community for stepping up and responding,” said Bixby, adding that it was a huge win for everyone involved.

Fellow co-director/teacher Jacob Krieger said the Seahawks and all NFL teams were looking to unleash a bang at their home openers and MIHS wanted to get in on the action.

“We were looking for a really amazing opportunity for the students to celebrate coming back as well,” he said.

The MIHS halftime performance tied in with the Hawks honoring Doug Baldwin as the 2021 Seahawks Legend of the Year.

Regarding the pregame event, Kyle Thompson, also a co-director/teacher, said the Seahawks approached the locals and asked for some ideas in giving the fans a memorable show.

“Seattle having a pretty vibrant music scene, which also was impacted by the pandemic, we immediately went to, ‘How could we connect and relate some local artists?’” said Thompson, adding that the MIHS band previously played Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” at Bandfest before performing in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2019.

While Macklemore performed “Can’t Hold Us” and Jones played two of his songs, “My Love Remains” and “Take Me Away,” the MIHS band moved around the field much like the dancers’ routine during an Olympics opening ceremony.

The MIHS marching band took control of the musical reins at halftime.

“The students did all the hard work and they totally blew our expectations out of the water,” Thompson said. “They were the ultimate performers throughout the whole process. We really couldn’t be more proud of them. They did a fantastic job.”


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