The Ridgewood High School Marching Band concluded its exemplary season by placing third in Nationals in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The band’s show, entitled “H2O,” is an exploration of the different properties of the substance H2O in different chemical phases: ice, water, and steam. It opens with a celebration of all three forms before featuring each phase and its characteristics- ice and its rigidness, water and its fluidity, and vapor and its chaos.
The show features the songs Into the Raging River, Finlandia, The Perfect Storm, and Blue Shades, arranged by well-known composers such as James Horner, best noted for composing the soundtrack for The Amazing Spider-Man. With these pieces, the marching band swept up a top rank with a score of 92.813, also winning the esteemed Cadets Award of Excellence for Creativity, Excellence, and Overall Effect. John Luckenbill, the band director, stated, “all season, the judges have been impressed by the overall musicianship of the band, the creativity and difficulty of the show, and how strong the band is from section to section.”
The Color Guard seized third place for their level of performance. Captain Anna Becker commented, “The energy that we had out on the field was so powerful. I could feel everything we’d been working on since band camp click together for the perfect performance!”
Teddy Trent, the band’s Drum Major, stated that “the amount of energy on the field was electrifying. I think it was the best performance that I’ve ever seen the Ridgewood High School Marching Band do in my four years in the program,” confessing that he got goosebumps and teared up towards the end of the show.
The success of the performance was really a testament to the number of hours every individual spent working. Marchers spent countless hours over the summer and during the fall at Kenilworth, at the RHS main field, and at a week-long camp working on this performance. Not only did each person contribute, but everyone came together to perform as one body. “There are no heroes here,” band director John Luckenbill often said, meaning that there were no substitutions and no benches- everyone had to contribute on the field, and everyone did.
Trent elaborated, “being part of a group like this really makes you take pride in it, so when we marched on the field in Allentown, we were all performing for each other, which is really what makes us all want to do well.”
The program upholds the five stars: trust, pride, leadership, respect, and unity. Each star represents a different way in which members contribute to the group, and all five can be found on the marching band logo. Each week of the competitive season represents upholding one of the five stars, culminating in the use of all five during nationals week.
While delivering the traditional “senior speeches” the night before this performance at Allentown, most members of the graduating class admitted that they did not voluntarily want to join marching band. Most initially played traditional sports, but joined marching band to keep busy during the fall or because of pressure from friends and family. However, they unanimously agreed that joining this program was the best decision they had made. These seniors advised the other members to enjoy marching band while it lasted; color guard captain Rachel Bradley gave her parting advice to the band, “take each [moment] you have and make it special because it ends sooner than you think it will.”
Regardless of how they joined, everyone agreed that Marching Band created a familial atmosphere that they would all miss. Color guard captain Cameron Donnelly explained, “I had come into this program with a handful of friends and now I’m leaving it with over a hundred.”
Many of this year’s graduates are interested in continuing with marching band through college as well, and with experiences from seasons as fruitful as this one, they are sure to succeed wherever they go. Previous Marching Band graduates have gone on to continue at esteemed colleges, including Notre Dame (Mark Sonnick, class of 2009), University of Delaware (Max Dabby and Chris Dubois, class of 2011), South Carolina University (Erin Meyer, class of 2015), and Syracuse University (Shoko Nagami, class of 2015).
But marchers don’t have to think about college just yet. There’s still one performance left, and if you’ve missed their show, you can still see them take the stage at halftime when the football team plays at Metlife Stadium.
Graphic: Minha Lee