• HELLGATE BAND HISTORY - A Tradition of Excellence

    The Hellgate Bands have a long history of excellence in band performance.  From the 1960's, under the direction of Mr. Chuck Johnson, Mr. Richard Erickson, Mr. Carl Smart, John Combs (1980 - 2009), Leon Slater (2010-2022), to the present with Jesse Dochnahl, the Hellgate Bands have achieved unparalleled success for decades!  The Hellgate Bands have commissioned works from both David Maslanka (UFO Dreams and Hells Gate) and John O'Reilly (Montana Visions). The Hellgate Marching Knights have marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1978, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 2005; performed in the Cotton Bowl Parade in 1981 and the Fiesta Bowl Parade in 1992, 1995 and 1999; and also performed in the Holiday Bowl Parade of 2001, where they were selected at the Holiday Bowl Festival Sweepstakes winner taking 1st Place in Concert Band and Jazz Band performances.  In 2008, the Hellgate Band traveled to Orlando, Florida to perform at Festival Disney. The Symphonic Band earned a Superior Rating from the judges. The Jazz Band was selected as the Outstanding Band of the Festival.  In Fall 2008 the Hellgate Symphonic Winds were selected to perform at the MENC All-Northwest Conference. They commissioned and performed the World Premier of Montana Visions by composer John O'Reilly.  The Hellgate Bands participated in the 2011 Honolulu Festival (an International Cultural Arts Festival). They received superior ratings in the Wind Band festival and placed 2nd in the Festival Parade (which took place in downtown Honolulu).  The Hellgate Wind Ensemble performed on the Chicago Symphony Hall stage and won the "Gold Award" at the 2013 Chicago International Music Festival.  In March 2015, the Hellgate Wind Ensemble received the "Gold Award" at the 2015 New York Wind Band Festival for their performance in Carnegie Hall! The Hellgate Bands were invited to participate in the 75th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor.  They rehearsed and performed with the Marine Band, performed at the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor and marched in the official commemoration parade. In 2017, the Wind Ensemble returned to Hawaii to participate in the 36th Annual Pacific Basin Music Festival and were awarded the “Command Performance” award.

    The Hellgate Jazz Bands have been active in festivals all over the west including the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and the Eastern Washington University jazz dialogue festival.  In 2013 we were invited to perform at the National Association for Music Education All-Northwest convention in Portland, Oregon. In 2014 the Jazz Band participated in the Swing Central Competition in Savannah, GA.

    The Hellgate Bands have consistently received Superior ratings at District Music Festivals for the past 55 years! The Marching Band has performed half-time shows at football games for the University of Montana and Montana State University. The band has performed in Disneyland and San Diego’s Sea World. The Jazz Band was selected to perform at the MENC All-Northwest Convention in 2001 in Spokane, Washington and 2013 in Portland, Oregon. An overwhelming majority of the Hellgate band students take part in the District II Music Festival as soloists and members of small ensembles.