NORTH READING The NRHS Marching Hornets are starting the year off on a high note, as the band is set to host the town’s first-ever regional marching band competition this coming Sunday, Oct. 10, which will be judged by the Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association.

The Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) will be providing feedback and performance evaluations for the Marching Hornets, in addition to North Middlesex and Wakefield’s bands, with the possibility of Reading joining in as well. All are welcome to attend this festive community event, as the funds will support the North Reading Music Boosters, which works to support instrumental and choral programs of all grade levels in North Reading.

Band Director Ben Owens has witnessed tremendous growth during his tenure, as he has seen the team roster grow from 24 to 48 students since he first started teaching in North Reading in 2018. There are currently five color guard members, 14 percussionists, 13 woodwinds, and 15 brass instrumentalists in the band.

Having won a 4-star overall rating and silver medal at the MICCA Finals in 2019, the NRHS Marching Hornets are well equipped to participate in this season’s lineup of competitions. After they perform at the North Reading High School on Oct. 10, they will be headed to Wakefield on Saturday, Oct. 16 for MICCA, Quincy on Sunday, Oct. 24 for MICCA Finals, and Reading on Sunday, Oct. 31 for the New England Scholastic Band Association (NESBA) Finals.

This year the Marching Hornets program is called “Don’t Look Back,” with musical themes tied to the mythological figures of Orpheus and Eurydice and the musical “Hadestown.”

“We are performing the show called ‘Don’t Look Back’ loosely based on the Greek myth of Orpheus,” said Owens. “We are playing music from ‘Hades’ the video game, ‘Road to Hell’ and ‘Wait For Me’ from Hadestown, and ‘Ascension’ by Robert W. Smith (a concert band piece). The show is about Orpheus’s journey through the underworld in his attempt to bring Eurydice back from Hades.”

The Music Boosters is hopeful that due to the steady growth of North Reading’s music programs, this regional competition will become an event that town residents can enjoy year after year, showing younger students what they can look forward to as they progress in music through the school system. While Owens and the Music Boosters are excited to see more bands join the list of performers in the future, as up to eight more are slated to participate next year, they are grateful for the opportunity to start this annual tradition right in North Reading.

“We are just really excited to bring this event to town and make this a tradition moving forward!” expressed Owens.

Rachel Fisher, a member of the Music Boosters and mom to Wes Fisher, the band’s current Drum Major, also noted that “It’s a gift to start out small,” given that this experience will be new for everyone to navigate.

North Reading High School’s first annual regional marching band competition will begin at 1 p.m. on Oct. 10 on the Arthur J. Kenney Field. Tickets are $5 per person; cash or card will be accepted. Concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase, along with a 50/50 raffle. Proceeds benefit the North Reading Music Boosters, which supports instrumental and choral programs of all grade levels in North Reading.

Purchase tickets at the gate or online by venmoing @NorthReading-MusicBoosters. Donations are also appreciated. Attendees making online purchases should indicate “ticket” or “donation” in the memo line.