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Step in time to LAHS band's 'R.E.M.'

Marching band to perform for the public at the 'Fall Finale'

As the fall's first snap of cold weather descended over Mountain View and Los Altos, members of the Los Altos High School Marching Band were practicing extra hard this week -- squeezing the last minutes out of the increasingly short October days and practicing their 2013 competition show.

Titled R.E.M., the show is a nine-minute reenactment of a dream sequence, in which a girl falls asleep, finds herself in the midst of a nightmare, and then wakes up to find all is well. According to a press release, "the drill depicts an eye closing, a funeral and a scary chase, all presented with an element of humor." It also features music composed by Edvard Grieg, Sergei Prokofiev, Karl Jenkins and Samuel Barber.

Before the band embarks on its next series of competitions, they will perform their 2013 show for the community at the "Fall Finale," scheduled for Nov. 9, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Gaye Heck, co-president of the Los Altos High School Instrumental Music Boosters, said the show is a way to thank the community for their support and to raise money. The performance is free and open to anyone. It will be followed by a bake sale and a chance for younger members of the community to try their hand at marching in a band.

The band is always looking for new recruits, said Larry Heck, Gaye's husband. And this year, they brought in plenty of new talent. The 73-member squad is made up of half veterans and half rookies. "Half of the band have never marched before," Heck said. "This is a really young band this year."

Larry Heck said those who come to the Fall Finale are in for a treat. "The show is very complex," he said. "The way to think of it is, it's like we're putting on a Broadway show on the field."

The band will be marching and playing at tempos of about 170 beats per minute, Heck said -- all the while making complex movements, marching backwards and moving props, like a bed, around the field. "If we were inside, sitting down, it would be extremely challenging music," he said.

The Fall Finale will be held Nov. 9 at the Los Altos High School football field, which will open at 10:30 a.m. The performance will begin at 11 a.m.

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