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Entertainment

Marching Towards Victory

MARCHING TOWARDS VICTORY

AFTER SEIZING SECOND PLACE AT GRAYSLAKE, THE MARCHING

WARRIORS ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO A STRONG SEASON

BY ABIGAIL MILOVANCEVIC

asst. entertainment editor

Presenting the new American-Revolution themed show at this year’s football games and competitions, the Marching Band has a loaded schedule, including three competitions to see how they rank against other bands in their division.

After gaining 45 new members, the Marching Band has competed against other schools in the AAA division this year. By moving up a division, the Warriors have faced “a lot more of a challenge. The AAA division is much more challenging than the AA division, since there’s going to be bigger bands. But I think we can rise to the occasion. Although we’ve got a lot of new members, a lot of them are working hard this year,” senior drum major Ella Kurutz said before facing area bands at the Naperville Central Marching Classic this past Saturday.

In a band competition, each band gets an equal start. “They all get 15 minutes to put on whatever they want as their show. That includes their entry, their music, and their exit. Every band is held to the same standard and the judges then decide [which] of the bands have the best musical performance, the best marching performance, general effect, percussion, and color guard. All these different factors go into how you rank against other bands you’re competing against,” band director Bernie Gerstmayr said.  

Despite the new competition, it is an aspect of band that many people enjoy. “[Competitions are] a great learning experience for everybody. It helps us grow better as a band, and it’s cool seeing what the other bands do,” sophomore Zaphillia Yost said.

Gerstmayr knows the band can handle anything the competition (or he) throws at them. “I think the hardest thing is for the new members to get used to all of the information they’re absorbing in a short period of time. They always rise to the challenge.”

During the football season, the Marching Band has previewed a few of their show pieces for their competitions.

“Last year our music was futuristic with the science fiction theme, including all of the Star Wars, Star Trek and David Bowie songs. But this year it goes back in time, back to the American Revolution. There are more colonial sounding songs this year instead of the science fiction and outer-space themed songs,” sophomore Alexis Huerta said.

Others showed excitement for this year’s progress. “I feel that it’s a very solid show. We have a lot of freshman this year, but they’re all working really hard and I think we’re going to make this show great,” senior Ella Kurutz said.  The band placed second overall at their first competition in Grayslake and the three leading drum majors received an award for their conducting.

Gerstmayr and the students aimed for a theme that would feel timely and attentive to national events. “We’re currently experiencing lots of forms of uprising. There are lots of opinions about our current government, and there are lots of revolutions happening across the world in different countries, of people who just want to be free from dictatorship. We thought it’d be very relevant to do a show about our first uprising, about how this country came to be. There’s a lot of rich musical connections not only historically and patriotically, but also in modern music. We’re using everything from our first unofficial national anthem [Chester] to everything current like ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Muse’s Uprising,’ so we’re using both old and new music at the same time to tell a story,” Gerstmayr said.

Besides the theme, something that makes their music even more unique is that it’s arranged just for Maine West Marching Band.

Bobby Bonslater, “our drumline instructor, writes the arrangements specifically for our band. You can’t buy them anywhere; he writes them based on our ideas. He also writes all of our movement on the field. He’s the creator, the engine. I say what I want, and he creates it and tweaks it according to our ideas; he helps teach it, too,” Gerstmayr said.

Besides playing and performing, the Maine West Marching Band is a tight-knit group of people. “Before the first home game, the seniors decorated all of the freshmen lockers to make sure they felt appreciated. They wanted to tell the freshmen, ‘You’re important to us. You’re our future, and we want to make sure you stay with us,’” Gerstmayr said.

Members of the band have also picked up on how connected and friendly everyone is to each other. “I think band is great. It’s both artistic and educational, and it also feels like a really big family. It’s not like a sport where you do it for a season; it’s a year-round thing, which is truly awesome,” senior Cesar Munoz, a tenor saxophone player, said.

At the end of the day, the band comes together in a community of parents, students, and staff. “We’re really one group, not individuals. It’s not just the flutes, or the clarinets, it’s the band. And really, that’s something not many people have,” Huerta said.

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