By Steven Law
Special to the Chronicle
PAGE – Page High’s marching band had its first competition on Aug. 21, and they placed second in the 1A Division with a score of 44.2 out of a 100.
“It is very hard for 1A bands to score above a 70, typically, so 44.2 is a very, very good to start,” said David Johnson, director of the PHS Marching Band.
It’s obvious to anyone watching the band perform, whether in competition or at practice, that the members of the band are enjoying themselves, that they have good chemistry and a bond that extends beyond the field.
Senior Annalisa Kuklis, who has played with the marching band all four years she’s been in high school, is happy to be back on the field with her friends.
“I spent the summer in New York, and it was pretty great, but I missed being in Page,” she said. “I like making music and being on the field with my friends.”
The Page High marching band has several exciting things happening this fall. One, it will have new uniforms this year for the first time in 12 years.
Kuklis has mixed feelings about getting new uniforms.
“Yes, it’s pretty exciting,” she said, “but I’m also going to miss my old uniform. It’s what I’ve worn for every performance during my time in high school. Sure, the old uniform is old and smelly and tearing apart in some places, but that’s why I like it. Then again, I think that’s why I like being in marching band; for all the weird things about it.”
Another big plus the marching band is looking forward to this year is brand new music. David Johnson, director of the PHS Marching Band, commissioned Emmy Award-winning composer Marden Pond, to write original music just for his band. Pond was Johnson’s composition mentor in college, and the two became good friends during that period.
“He took it as an amazing challenge, and delivered some great music,” Johnson said.
Most high school marching bands, including Page High School, usually buy box shows, which have the music and choreography already written.
“I think having original music written specifically for us will help us a lot,” Johnson said. “Most marching bands are pretty big, and the box shows are written for them. We’re a small band, but we certainly have our strong areas and Dr. Pond wrote the music with our strong suits in mind.”
Though still considered an original work, Pond’s music draws from other pieces.
“People who hear our music this year will recognize parts from other works,” Johnson said.
The piece is called Orpheus: Myths and Legends. It draws heavily from Greek mythology.
Several of the marching band members will portray specific characters from the work and will dress accordingly.
Drum Major Antonia Muskat will be dressed up as Aphrodite, and Braxton Harris will be dressed as Orpheus, and Arabell Grimshaw will be Eurydice.
“The story starts out light and gets dark and darker as it progresses, but ultimately has a happy ending,” Johnson said.
The marching band combines their talents with those of the PHS Color Guard, whose movements and actions add pleasing visual elements to the actions of the marching band.
Johnson says his core group of students are very dedicated to both the marching band and the concert band. Most of his students are in both marching and concert bands, which keeps them very busy with practices, rehearsals, travel and performances.
“For my core group of students, music is everything to them,” Johnson said. “They excel at it both academically and on the field. Most of them are high-achievers in school and this is one of their creative outlets. They’re a great group of kids, and they’re all very dedicated to this program.”
Johnson is also dedicated to the current and future success of the program.
“I’m excited to be a part of the program,” he said. “It kind of fizzled out for a few years, with a revolving door of teachers passing through, but I’m determined to stick around.”
Antonia Muskat, who is a senior this year, said having a committed teacher helps a lot. The consistency a steady teacher brings gives the program a strong foundation, she said.
“As students, we don’t have to change or adapt to a new teachers’ style and methods,” she said, “and that gives us a strong platform to work from. I think that consistency has allowed us as a group and individuals to grow as much as we have.
“Having a teacher who is committed to us and to the program, make us, the students, a lot of committed to the success of the program too.”
The combined marching band and color guard will travel to five competitions in the Valley this autumn. Their first competition was on Sept. 21 at Bradshaw Valley High School.
They will also be performing during every halftime at the varsity football team’s home games.