WA Marching Band heads to MICCA finals

Marching band in the stands during a football game.

By Kai-Lou Yue and Olivia Caron
News Editor and Staff Writer

Most Westford Academy students have attended a football game at some point during the school year, and almost everyone in the school is aware that a marching band performs during the halftime shows. However, this year, the band is planning to compete in the Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association finals marching band competition for the first time in many years.

The competition will be held in Lowell, MA on Sunday, October 26th, 2014, and there will be a total of 29 bands competing that day.

The band will be attending the competition playing music from their usual half-time show, lead by drum majors comprising of senior Shanon Fan, and juniors Michael Colavita, and Taiga Kambara who will conduct the first, second, and third movements respectively.

“[The music] is all based on Pirates of the Caribbean. I believe it’s all from the Black Pearl. We had our halftime show written by a local composer, Dan Lutz […] He wrote all of the woodwind and brass parts and the majority of the score, and then I wrote all of the percussion parts,” said Band Director George Arsenault.

The band has put in many hours of practice into preparing for the competition.

“We had a week of band camp [over the summer] that we used to start preparing the music and the drill for the show, and since then, we’ve had rehearsals almost every Monday night for the band to work on the drill and the music. On top of that, we usually have rehearsals before all of our major games,” said Colavita.

Unlike most competitions, MICCA finals is not judged in a way that bands will place first, second, or third. Instead, there is a point system; if the band scores within a certain number of points, they can achieve one of five different awards, from a “thanks for coming,” to a gold medal.

“It’s a graded festival, meaning that it’s not a competition in the sense that we are competing against the other bands. The spirit of the festival is that you are competing against a standard,” said Arsenault.

The WA Marching Band has about 100 students participating and Arsenault stresses the importance having a band where everyone works together and plays the right notes at the right time.

”We have a lot of strong players. One of the things about a band is that a good band doesn’t have people who stand out, they blend in perfectly. We have some soloists, but our band is pretty balanced,” said Arsenault.

Arsenault also feels like this competition is a good opportunity for the band, as the band usually only gets to perform during half time shows. However, as a result, the band also feels a sense of urgency to be completely prepared before the competition.

“I think there’s a certain level of urgency that might be absent from practices when there is no big endgame, like a graded competition or festival,  so I think that the students have had just a little bit of extra urgency to their practice method and their performance method,” said Arsenault.

With all the preparation and effort into preparing for the competition and their normal halftime shows, it’s not surprising that the band feels ready for MICCA.

“Based on other schools that I’ve seen, perform in the marching band MICCA competition, I would say that our band is definitely prepared […] in our level of music and our level of drill,” said Kambara.

Colavita added, “I think we feel pretty confident going into the competition.”