Band marches to success

December 15, 2009 — by Vivien Lu and Ashley Tang

The marching band placed sixth in the Western Band Association Class Championships in Clovis on Nov. 22. In total, there were around 90 schools from all over the state at the event, according to band director Duane Otani.

Most schools in Division 5A consist of at least 2,000 students; however, Saratoga only has 1,350 students, making the Saratoga band the underdog in the division. Even so, this disadvantage did not affect the overall performance of the band.

“I think it went very well and I’m really proud of them,” Otani said. “The trip went smoothly, and this year, the WBA even treated everyone to a fireworks display.”

On the day of the championships, while all the bands were being recognized on the field, the WBA announced to the estimated 10,000 people there to “look skyward.”

Freshman flutist Cathy Han said, “There were a whole ton of fireworks and it went on for what seemed like forever; I don’t know how they could have afforded all that, but I really enjoyed it.”

However, not everyone was as delighted by the unexpected experience.

“Some of the people in our band were scared by the fireworks because they were so loud and continuous,” said junior tenor saxophone player Darren Sun, “None of that scared me though.”

Generally, the whole trip was very demanding on the students. On Saturday, they arrived at 9 a.m. for rehearsal, then left at 1 p.m. for Clovis, arriving there at 4 p.m.

“Pretty much there was no much time for homework; it was like band, band, band, band, eat, and then band again,” said senior drum major Flora Chang.

After the banquet awards brunch on Sunday morning and then a final performance, the students arrived home at 11:30 p.m.

“The whole thing was definitely tiring, but a lot of fun,” said Chang.

The WBA Grand Championships was unlike any other competition this year because it was the last tournament of the season.

“It was dynamite,” said music directer Michael Boitz. “We had a totally new theme, both musically and visually. This year was very exciting because we tried some things that we’ve never done before.”

Students also performed better and with more enthusiasm this year, due to many different reasons.

“On our final run through, we were really pumped because it was our last one. It was really obvious that they [the students] were really energetic and into it while I conducting,” said Chang.

During the final performance, the students’ energy showed through, leading the band to beat rivals Homestead and Amador.

“This time was different because the crowd was a lot larger than usual, which hyped everyone up,” Han said. “Even though it was an exhausting two day trip, it was worth it when we beat our rivals.”

The marching band wrapped up a memorable season.

“We had a really good performance this year,” said sophomore Golor Guard member Cecilia Hollenhorst, “Things really changed because of the new band director, Mr. Otani. He pushed us to work harder during rehearsals, which is the main reason why I think we did better than last year.”

Some students had other reasons to explain why they had performed so well at Clovis.

Said sophomore trumpet player Thomas Ishikawa, “We played better this year because we were more together as a group, more like family.”

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