This past Saturday, the Ridge High School Marching Band continued its successful 2012 season when the band placed second in Group 3A at Saturday’s prestigious Yamaha Cup competition held annually at MetLife Stadium. The band also received caption awards for Best Visual Performance, Best Color Guard and Best Percussion.
The Marching Band has so far brought home brought one first-place finish and two second place finishes in its first three competitions this fall.
The band’s award-winning will be presented at all remaining football games and at the third annual Ridge High School Marching Band Competition, scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 27, at Lee Field behind the high school.
The competition can be expected to host 15 bands and more than 1,000 performers — as well as an equal number of spectators, according to information from the marching band.
The band started this year's competition season in September, with a win at the Group A Group 3A division at the Hunterdon Central Festival in Hunterdon County. On the first weekend in October, The band placed second at the annual Verona Festival of Bands, where the band was also awarded the Best Effect caption award.
The Verona competition was as close as it can get, according to Marching Band Publicity Chairman Don Grossmann. Nutley High School band edged out Ridge by a slim margin of .1 point. Nutley received a 74.0 score while Ridge scored 73.9 score from the judges.
At the Yamaha Cup this past weekend, Ridge improved its score to 80.638, which was second only to Northern Highlands High School (82.613) in the ten band competition. The second-place finish matched the 2009 band as its best ever Yamaha Cup Group 3A placement. In 2010, Ridge won first place in Group 2A for smaller bands.
Band Director Dan Zugale praised the band’s performance. “We have a great group of kids who are working extremely hard.The show is a challenge, but they have risen to the occasion and now we are getting credit for it.”
Isabella Cedeno, Assistant Drum Major, said she feels that "getting second place out of ten bands is a remarkable accomplishment. Along with three caption awards, this really proved to us what we are capable of.”
Woodwind section leader Julia Grossmann agreed. “The fact that we won the caption awards proves that we really do have a strong show in every single aspect. Every person in the band was represented by at least one of the caption awards.”
Color Guard wins award, too
Color Guard captain Gabryelle Stein said she was very happy about the caption award for the Color Guard, which accompanies the Marching Band on the field. “I could not stop smiling the second I was holding the award in my hands. However, what impressed me the most was how much we worked as a team and not just the separate parts that make up a marching band.”
Performing in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, even when it is less than 10 percent full, was an amazing experience for the band, Grossmann said.
"There is a feeling of professionalism when we perform here," Cedeno said.
Nick Falduto, Pit Percussion captain, added the stadium is “one of the greatest stages for a marching band to be on, one of the best in the country.”
But MetLife Stadium also presents unique obstacles. Cedeno noted that “the jumbo screens are a large distraction to many of the band members while marching. It could ruin the timing if someone looks at it too long.”
"Anytime you perform in a big stadium, the acoustics are going to be drastically different than what we are used to," Julia Grossmann said. "This is especially hard on new members, who have never experienced the echoes that are created.”
“A big competition in a large venue can be physically and psychologically intimidating," Zugale said. "I was impressed that the band showed no fear and performed the show as well as they would on the practice field.”
Ridge will compete against both Northern Highlands and Nutley, the only schools to outscore them this year, at the State Championship to be held on November 3 at Rutgers Stadium. At the state championships, they will compete against 25 or more bands in Group 3A.
In order to overtake these bands, Cedeno noted the band needs to work on presenting the show as a whole.
"We need to spend time cleaning drills and visual," Julia Grossmann said. "Visuals have a much greater importance this year, because we have added so many dance elements to our show.”
Zugale said that the band also needs to produce more sound and expand its dynamic range to perform well at the championship. “We can’t become complacent. We are off to a great start to the season, but we need to keep looking ahead at our next goals and not at our past successes.”
Additional information about the band can be obtained from the band’s website.