Bloomin’ Fest

A flutist from Travis Middle School plays during Bloomin’ Fest on Saturday. The varied repertoire and polished stage skills of the students. 

TEMPLE — The musical scene at the Bloomin’ Fest on Saturday morning was a far cry from the slick, well-produced hat acts and Tejano troubadour troupes that headlined the two-day event’s main stage.

Just in front of the entry gate, not 50 feet from the railroad tracks, sat Second Stage, and all morning long the music was sophisticated, well-rehearsed and smoothly presented.

The performers weren’t over-hyped, over-amplified touring artists, but Temple Independent School District middle and high school students.

The varied repertoire and polished stage skills of the students and their directors kept the audience entertained and enthusiastic.

Not that there weren’t challenges. Persistent, gusty breezes constantly threatened to whisk sheet music off the music stands, which were weighted down with sandbags to keep them on the stage.

The funeral of a fellow student kept some musicians away or caused them to be late, said Brent Matheson, Temple High School band director.

Then, there were the sounds of locomotives’ air horns that passed a mere 50 feet from Second Stage. It wasn’t the ideal setting for a student concert.

But the youngsters bravely played on.

“It’s really inspiring,” said Kristen Parker, a mother of three from Killeen. “They don’t even seem to let it bother them.”

The musical selections were as different as the various ensembles themselves — ranging from rock arrangements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, complete with bass guitar and drum set added to a string ensemble, performed by the Temple High School orchestra — to traditional, mainstream big band: Neal Hefti’s “Lil’ Darlin’” as played by the Travis Middle School jazz ensemble.

Some ringers were spotted in the groups, and a few of the directors couldn’t resist snagging a few solo spots on their respective instruments.

Temple College’s jazz maestro Benjamin Irom sat in on piano for the Temple High School Highlighters. Bonham Middle School co-director Jennifer Essary loaned her trumpet skills to Bonham Middle School’s jazz band, and other professional adult musicians contributed to empty chairs in the orchestras.

Some prominent local musicians were spotted in the audience, including Temple jazz drummer Jesse Ybarbo, beaming as he pointed out his grandson Tyler, a sophomore at Temple High School.

“That’s him in the trumpet section,” Ybarbo said, as the Blues took the stage.

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