Marching band bands together

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Marching band bands together

Morgan Wheeler, Staffer

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The marching band has done well in all their competitions this fall. The first competition, Stagg Jamboree, was crucial because it determined how their show ranked against the shows of other area high schools. The OPRF marching band won a caption for best music, their first time ever in that category. According to Anthony Svejda, one of the band directors, captions are important. “The goal throughout the season is to get a caption, which reinforces what we’re doing well or that the people are enjoying the show. After that competition we realized we had a competitive show.”

The students love it. Those who have been here for four years it has been their favorite show so far”

— Anthony Svejda

One of the reasons for their success is because their performance, ‘Phat Tuesday’, is a crowd favorite. ‘Phat Tuesday’ is based on the celebration of Mardi Gras and a typical New Orleans funeral. The piece opens with a movement called Nola Wakes, a slow ballad that moves toward a joyous sound. The second movement, Congo Square, is named after a historic area in New Orleans. The next movement is titled French Quarter. The final movement is called To Five 1, the piece ends with a big swing to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the band exits the field in a traditional march. “The students love it,” Svejda said. “Those who have been here for four years it has been their favorite show so far.” The students in marching band can also feel the positive response from the crowd. Edward Brenneman, a junior soloist said that “As a soloist I really enjoy the show. I’m in the quartet.” He also enjoys the jazz elements in the show, because he plays the trumpet. Brenneman feels there is something about this piece gets a lot of excitement from the crowdsnot only at OPRF home games, but at the competitions as well.

Svejda agrees, after the competition at Benedictine University a lot of educators sent him emails telling him how much they enjoyed the show. “We have put on a show that people are looking forward to seeing.”

Although the marching band won, Svejda believed there was still room for improvement. At the beginning of the year, the field that they practiced on was under construction. The entire 130-piece band was limited to use only one-third of the space, and they only had the opportunity to use the the full field twice before they competed at STAGG. “It doesn’t matter if the band has 30 members or 130 members,” Svejda said. “You still need the whole football field. Having won best music at our first competition, it clearly was a sign that we needed more field to work on in order to win best marching.” Eventually, the marching band negotiated a schedule with the freshman football team, and since then they’ve been on their A game. On Sept. 17 they won first place at Geneseo and swept their class winning best music, best auxiliary, best percussion, and best drum majors. The third competition at Benedictine University, they placed fifth overall and won best drum major.


There are a lot of high expectations for the group. The competitions are an all-day event that begin with an early morning bus ride to the location. Then, setting up involves unloading equipment, putting on uniforms, stretching on the field, and warming up before the big performance. Maya Taylor, a drum major, takes it all in stride. “It was nerve wracking both as a marcher and as a drum major. I’ve had nightmares about going on the podium and forgetting the show,” Taylor said, “But the three other drum majors and I work really hard to make sure that it goes well.” Taylor and the other drum majors help conduct the performance and facilitate communication between the section leaders and directors. The role involves a lot of leadership, in addition to the after school practices the drum majors work together to plan. However, she still finds her participation in marching band rewarding because of the camaraderie and sense of community.  “This year has been great, because I think everyone has been super involved in the show this year. The thing I’ve lo about all four years [in marching band], and this year especially, is that everyone does their best to make sure people feel included.”

Senior Jovan Williams moved to OPRF two years ago. While he said “The marching band there was great… it doesn’t compare to the program here.”  He admits this year switching from flute to color guard was a challenge at first, but he is grateful for the support from his fellow marchers“I really like the sense of community that the band has,” Williams said, “I feel like when we’re all together we create a unique sound. We perform as if we’ve been in a group our whole lives.”

At their final competition at Illinois State University on Oct. 22 the OPRF marching band placed sixth in their class of competition.

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The student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School
Marching band bands together