Seventy-six trombones? That's nothing.
Try about 120 trombones. With about 180 cornets close at hand.
In fact, more than 1,000 marching band musicians will be blazing away at the same time at the University of Minnesota's halftime show when the Gophers play at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday.
The megaband performance marks the return of High School Band Day, a U tradition dating to 1951 in which high school bands around the state play a halftime show en masse at a Gophers football game.
As many as 6,000 high school band members from up to 90 bands around the state would participate in past High School Band Days, filling the west bleachers of the old Memorial Stadium on the first or second football game of the season.
When the university started playing football at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, the logistics of the event became more difficult and limited the number of high school bands participating to 10 to 20, U historian Mike Gaffron said. The last time High School Band Day happened was in 1999.
When marching band director Betsy McCann decided to resurrect the event this year, she got responses from more high school bands than she could handle. She capped the number of participants at the first 10 high schools who contacted her.
They'll be bringing a total of about 800 student musicians to the game, joining the 324-member U marching band on the field in a joint performance. They'll be performing a Super Bowl-themed show, playing music done by stars at past Super Bowl halftime shows including Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk."
The 15-minute show will also feature a song called "Minnesota Fanfare," written last year by U music Prof. Dean Sorenson to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the university's band program.
McCann said the high school bands at Saturday's show — Chisago Lakes, Lakeville South, Robbinsdale Armstrong, South Washington County Combined, Mayo, Edina, Richfield, Prior Lake, Waconia and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg — have been practicing the music.
They'll get a chance to rehearse with one another and the university band Saturday morning and then will play at tailgating locations around the stadium before the 2:30 kickoff against Middle Tennessee.
"For our kids, it's a way to see what they'll do at the next step," said Chad Bieniek, band director at Lakeville South High School, who will be bringing about 100 student band members to the event. "Moving from a high school stadium to the Bank is going to be really cool."
The performance will feature the university band forming the shape of the state. The other students will be arrayed around the "state," including a band in blue uniforms designed to represent Lake Superior.
"Powerful. It's going to sound powerful," said Joe DeLisi, band director at Chisago Lakes High School, who's bringing 35 students. "It's a lot of decibels. We're going to blow some hair back.
"It's going to be an exciting, visceral experience."
Mike Wierzbicki, assistant athletic director for marketing for Gopher athletics, said the athletic department sees High School Band Day as a community-building initiative for the university.
"It's definitely the time to bring it back," he said.
The rekindled event probably will be open to more high school bands next year, with a goal of getting as many student musicians as possible jammed onto the field at once.
"The field was full of students from end zone to end zone," McCann said of past High School Band Days. "It was a massive event.
"We're hoping to get back to that."