Marching band soars at regional show, places first in Bands of America

November 13, 2015 — by Karissa Dong and Katherine Zhou

The Nov. 7 contest was the cultimation for months of hard work for the more than 200 members of the marching band.

As the announcer signalled the beginning of the awards ceremony on Nov. 7, junior trumpet player Peter VandeVort quickly fell quiet, nervously anticipating the final results as he stood by his fellow band mates on American Canyon High School’s turf field in the Napa area.

The announcer’s voice rang through the eager crowd of high school musicians — 10 top bands from Utah, Nevada and California competed — and when the awards were all announced, the Falcons celebrated loudest. Among the elite competitors were Homestead, Clovis West and James Logan.

Placing first in both class division and final competition of the NorCal Bands of America (BoA), the band’s performance, with its “Quest” theme of an optical illusion journey, swept the three caption awards as well: Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect.

“It was pure heaven hearing the announcer’s words, and there was this feeling of euphoria on the field,” said VandeVort, the head manager for the band. “So many people were ready to cry because we finally saw how much all of our hard work paid off.”

This victory marked the band’s first regional competition in recent memory in which they swept all the possible awards.

After three years of participating in BOA and winning first in its class division each year, the band was finally able to win the other categories as well as place first in finals.

The final performance was special because the entire band, from students to staff to parents, all had the same mentality going into this performance,” associate instrumental music director Jonathan Pwu said. “You could definitely feel the energy, focus and concentration during the warm-up.”

Pwu also complimented the student leaders of the band and expressed his gratitude for the “behind-the-scenes” heroes — parent volunteers and visual performing arts coordinator Takako Hasegawa — whose help throughout the season have contributed to this success.

For senior drum major Shiva Djabbari, this “remarkable final performance” marked the highlight of her senior year.

“I couldn’t ask for a better ending to our competitive season,” Djabbari said. “As a senior, I realized how important my band family is to me. They’re irreplaceable, and the memories I make with them every day are worth more than any first place trophy.”

Compared to the band’s performance on Oct. 31 at the Western Band Association (WBA) Dublin Competition in Dublin, VandeVort said there was vast improvement. In Dublin, the band managed to secure first for the High Music Award but placed second in its class.

“[At BOA], we fixed a lot of the small errors that held us back in Dublin,” he said. “We were able to bring our performance up a notch this time, which really separated us from the other bands.”

Though overshadowed by the immense accomplishment at American Canyon, band members saw the Dublin competition as a success as well.

“The positive energy during and after we performed was so high,” Djabbari said. “The best part of the performance was getting to see everyone's accomplished smiles after.”

In Pleasanton on Oct. 24, the band also competed with 50 high schools from California and Nevada in the Foothill Band Review, placing first overall. Percussion and Color Guard both placed second in their respective divisions.

Despite failing to make the same impact as they did at BOA with these earlier competitions, VandeVort said that they “got to their [BOA-level performance] as a team.”

“Though we hadn’t been perfect throughout the year, [we managed] to bring it all together at the end with BOA,” VandeVort said.

The band will be marching in the Los Gatos Holiday Parade along with Redwood Middle School on Dec. 5 before heading off to march in Pasadena’s Rose Parade on Jan. 1.

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