A few weeks ago, I overheard a woman speaking about the Marriotts Ridge High School marching band. She lives near the school and has heard the students practicing diligently.
"They are always outside," she exclaimed, "even after dark!"
The group's hard work has paid off, for on Nov. 3, the Marriotts Ridge Marching Mustangs earned top ranking in the US Bands Mid-Atlantic States Championships at the U.S. Naval Academy.
This year, Marriotts Ridge competed as a 4A band for the first time. The number specifies the size of the group, not the size of the school, and Group 4 bands contain 76-100 performers, including instrumentalists, drum majors, color guards, etc. The Marching Mustangs currently boast 90 members.
"A Class" designates bands that have just moved to a larger group, are in the process of building their program, are new to competition, possess limited resources or have other mitigating factors. "Open Class," on the other hand, indicates more experienced competitors. The classification system ensures that similar bands compete against one another and that judges evaluate them at appropriate levels.
During its 2013 marching season, the Mustangs performed three movements adapted from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, a symphonic suite based upon the story collection known as One Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights). The main story line involves a Persian king who discovers that his wife has been unfaithful; so in his anger, he executes her and marries a new bride each day, after first beheading the previous day's wife.
The king kills 1,000 women before marrying Scheherazade, who cleverly keeps her life by creating a series of riveting tales. She stops halfway through each tale so that the king will look forward to the conclusion the next day. After 1,001 nights, Scheherazade runs out of stories, but by that time, the king has fallen in love with her. He spares her life and makes her his queen.
The Mustangs brought Scheherazade to life not just through the gripping music, but also through stunning visual effects, which included color guards dressed in Arabian attire, spinning an assortment of vibrant flags and scimitars.
After winning its first three competitions, Marriotts Ridge entered the Mid-Atlantic States Championship as the first-place seed. The band competed against other 4A groups from Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia and earned its highest rating of the season, clinching both the Mid-Atlantic and the Maryland State championships. Additionally, the Mustangs won awards for Best Music and Best Overall Effect.
Kudos to the Marching Mustangs and to director Nick Ellis and his marching staff on this impressive showing! The Marriotts Ridge community looks forward to seeing what's in store next fall.
In other band news, West Friendship Elementary School teacher Amy Syversen has announced the names of her November Musicians of the Month. The following students have worked hard and demonstrated great attitudes: Jack Baxter, percussion; Brian Blackman, trombone; Cole Felch, bassoon; Anna Hebner, flute; James Herman, percussion; Juliette LaVeck, flute; Anastasia Linquist, flute; Noble Przyborowski, alto saxophone; Niko Sambat, percussion; Jayden Spitulnik, trombone; Jai Vaichalkar, percussion; Megan Wagner, clarinet; and Jacob Wise, trombone. Great job!