Thursday, October 22, 2009

This One Time . . . At Band Camp . . .

I am a former Band GeekTM. I say that with great pride. Moreover, I am a former member of the Marching Huskies, which again, I say with great pride. I played the flute and was okay at it. I didn't practice as much as I should have, but I did memorize all my music.

My days with the Marching Huskies were limited to my freshman year and the first semester of my sophomore year of high school. I quit because I had the good fortune of being able to take drivers' ed early, which meant I'd be able to pick up my license on my 16th birthday. When I weighed the pros and cons, I decided that knowing how to drive was a more important life skills than anything I might accomplish with a flute.

In all honesty, when I was a Marching Huskie, we weren't that good. In fact, I don't recall ever winning any marching band competition. Prospect High School (our rival in everything) was the band to beat. They went everywhere including the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. They won the Governor's Trophy at the Illini Marching Band Festival 25 times.

But that ended on Saturday when the Marching Huskies captured the Governor's Cup for the first time in 26 years. Congratulations Huskies!

Hersey Band Captures Governor's Trophy
by Eileen O. Daday, Daily Herald, October 22, 2009

The John Hersey High School Marching Huskies.

For the first time in 26 years, the University of Illinois' School of Music will etch a new name onto to its Governor's Cup: Hersey High School.

The Marching Huskies from the Arlington Heights school won the overall championship at the Illini Marching Band Festival Saturday, ending a streak held by its Northwest Suburban High School District 214 peer, Prospect High School in Mount Prospect.

The Governor's Cup trophy reflects the best score of the day, combined from field and parade show competitions.

"We're really excited and feeling really proud to know that everything we worked on finally came together," said senior trombonist and section leader Andrew Birschbach of Arlington Heights.

It was battle right down to the last performance of the night, with Hersey, under the direction of Scott Casagrande, taking the field at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, followed by the final show of the night, Prospect.

In the end, Prospect's Marching Knights won the field show portion of the competition with their performance of "Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue," while Hersey finished second in the field but won the parade show, and ultimately the grand championship, with a total score that eclipsed Prospect.

Among the top five field show scores were Waubonsie Valley High School in third and Neuqua Valley High School in fifth, while Mundelein High School placed fourth in parade show competition.

"I think it's great that two District 214 schools are that strong," said Chris Barnum, Prospect director of bands. "I think it's cool to look around the district and see all these great things happening."

Hersey's field show performance was designed around the music of Aaron Copland, opening and closing with the famous "Fanfare for the Common Man." A middle section, called "Hoe-Down," from Copland's Rodeo ballet, featured musicians line dancing and the 25-piece percussion section driving its rhythm.

"All week long, we stressed striking a balance between passion and execution," said senior trumpet soloist Mike Ozga of Arlington Heights, "and that's what we did between our marching and musical ability."

Winning the Governor's Cup means the Marching Huskies end their competition season on a high note. They will perform their show one final time during halftime of Friday's home football game against Wheeling High School. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. in Hersey's Goins Stadium.

The Marching Band is led by drum majors Catherine O'Donnell and Ilona Widomska, both seniors, and junior Michael Plankey; senior soloists Birschbach and Ozga; drum captain Nick Jarosz, a senior; and guard captains Katie Rheingruber and Heather Swanke, both seniors, and junior Juliette Makara.

Prospect competes again Saturday at the State of Illinois Marching Band Championship in Hancock Stadium at the Illinois State University in Normal.

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