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Carlynton band festival revival continues with Sept. 7 event

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Eighth-grader Isabel Irwin practices her routine without an instrument at band camp. She normally plays the flute.
Eighth-grader Hannah Stack, on flute, practices the 2013 halftime routine during Carlynton High School band camp.
Seventh-grader Julia Roussos practices Carlynton's 2013 halftime routine.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Eighth-grader Sydney Mollica plays the bass drum while senior Aidan Kalimon, on the melophone, practices his dance moves during Carlynton High School marching band camp last week. See story and more photographs on Page 10.

When Todd Obidowski became Carlynton's marching band director, he had no qualms about bringing back the decades-old tradition of the Carlynton Band Festival.

“That was three years ago,” he said. “We've been doing it every year since. It gets better and better every year.”

This year's event, on Sept. 7, will feature Carlynton's band and 11 other high school and college bands at Honus Wagner Field.

The festival began in 1971 but had been on hiatus for several years prior to Obidowski taking over.

Obidowski said several band parents came to him and expressed interest in reinstating the festival.

Those same band parents, Obidowski said, are instrumental in making the festival happen.

“It's a very big endeavor,” he said. “We absolutely wouldn't be able to do it without parent volunteers. Band parents are extremely involved.”

The planning took nearly a year.

“We basically start thinking about the next festival shortly after the one before is finished,” he said. “We start thinking about what we want to do, looking at dates and talking to other schools.”

Because many schools in the area host festivals, it's important to communicate with other band directors, he said.

“We want to coordinate as best we can so we're not competing against each other,” he said. Many directors in the area also arrange to take their bands to each other's festivals.

The Carlynton Band Festival will start at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 and will feature bands from California University of Pennsylvania and Robert Morris University, along with high school bands from Cornell, Hopewell, Montour, North Allegheny, Northgate, Pittsburgh Carrick, South Fayette, West Allegheny and Union Area, in New Castle.

The festivals allow the bands to showcase more than they would during a normal halftime show, Obidowski said.

“You really only get about seven minutes of music in a halftime show by the time you march the band out, announce the music and march off,” he said. “The festival is a neat venue in that we don't have a time restriction.”

More than showcasing the bands, he said, the festivals showcase the arts.

“It shows that arts and music really do hold a very valuable place in the school district,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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