Harlingen Sounds: Big Red Cardinal Band holds impressive competition streak

RGV Sounds

Harlingen High School Cardinal Band banner (photo: Nathaniel Puente)

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Success breeds success; From sports to academic competitions to music contests, success has been a constant theme at Harlingen High School.

One of the school’s proudest programs is the marching band, which has consecutively qualified for the UIL state marching competition for nearly a quarter of a century.

The Harlingen High School Big Red Cardinal Band puts in months-long work of preparation ensuring their performance is up to shape.

Practice for marching season begins in June as directors select a theme to produce their show around and work on arranging every part of the show.

This year, Harlingen High’s band is following a theme of “Spring Awakening,” which follows The Rite of Spring, a 1913 ballet and orchestra concert.

A class practices in Harlingen High’s band hall (photo: Nathaniel Puente)

“It’s basically a group of warriors that are awakened from a dark world,” said Maria Coronado, director of the Harlingen High band. “As the show goes along everything regains its color and beauty.”

All of the music performed for this show is pulled from The Rite of Spring, which was composed by Igor Stravinsky. Coronado says when this concert was ahead of its time when it was first performed in the 1910s, as it featured dark-sounding music and has gained respect over the years for its advancement.

In addition to learning the music, this year’s show features much more choreography than in the past. This means students have to perfect their music parts along with knowing where they are supposed to be in the moving piece.

Amping up the show like this guarantees the students, audience, and judges will enjoy Harlingen High’s performance.

And if any school knows how to get the job done, it’s Harlingen, who has qualified for the UIL State Marching Contest for 24 consecutive years.

Coronado has been with the school for 22 of those years and says planning, preparation, and choosing music that will please the most students are the key to their consistent success.

Maria Coronado, director of bands, is in her 22nd year with Harlingen High School (photo: Nathaniel Puente)

“You’re not going to please every single student but you want to pick music that they enjoy and want to play,” said Coronado. “And it’s gotta be exciting, you have to draw the audience in and the students have to have a good understanding of that.”

Every year that Coronado and the staff come in feels like a special year to them as they always see the best in their students.

For Coronado, seeing the smile on the students’ faces after each game or competition is what she appreciates most about her job.

“When they’ve worked really hard to get something and they finally get to that point is what I like seeing the most,” said Coronado. “You can hear how happy they are in how they play and that’s an awesome feeling.”

The upcoming Bird Bowl matchup between Harlingen High and Harlingen South on Saturday is one of the school’s most coveted rivalries, but Coronado says it’s business as usual for the band.

“We just focus on what we need to do as individuals or as a group,” said Coronado.

The Big Red Cardinal Band will continue to pursue greatness and continue to extend their state qualifying streak this season.

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