It was a stellar start and an exciting evening for the 75-member Ridge High School Marching Band, which began the 2012 marching band competition season with a first place finish at Saturday’s 17th annual Hunterdon Central Band Festival.
The band which already has been presented at Ridge Red Devils football games. Competing in Group III-A, the band also captured three of the five Caption Awards for “Best Music,” “Best Visual,” and “Best Effect."
Ridge outscored four other Group III-A bands, including perennial marching band powerhouse North Warren High of Blairstown, a winner of numerous state championship in recent years, according to information from the marching band. Ridge’s 71.35 score was also the second highest of all 13 competing bands, outscored only by the 132 member Somerville High band who compete in Group V-A.
Director Dan Zugale commended the band, stating that “The kids put everything they had into the performance.” Zugale also noted that “the band has had a great work ethic so far this year and it really shows in our performance.”
Drum Major Kelsey McKeon agreed, stating that “I think we had a lot of energy that other bands may not have had.” Assistant Drum Major Isabella Cedeno added that “the band really stepped up to the pressure that’s put on you for a first competition. Musically, we were all together and we all had the right mindset for the competition. We were all focused 100% when we went out onto the field.”
The first-place award was for the Ridge band and color guard's performance of its 2012 show featuring music from the 1998 hit movie “The Mask of Zorro." The three-part show includes the songs “Plaza of Execution,” “Diego’s Goodbye,” and “Stealing of the Map.” The band has been rehearsing the show since mid-August and the show’s music since June. "The show is well designed and it fits the strengths of the band really well," Zugale said.
Zugale also noted that the Ridge band and color guard has introduced more complex drill and visual routines in its 2012 show. “This was an intentional choice on our part. We felt that we needed to use much more of the field in order to show more variety in the movement. We also focused on creating a visual design that is extremely coordinated with this music. In addition, the tempo is faster than usual so that automatically raised the difficulty.”
The 2012 show, Zugale said, contains “more dance elements and that reflects the latest trend in visual design. It began with the world drum corps and has filtered into the high school marching circuits. The dance can be very well coordinated with the music. We actually picked this specific music because we knew we would have opportunities to incorporate the dance and other visual ideas.”
"We put a lot of work into these visuals and they are really well choreographed," McKeon added.
The band’s next events are the Verona High competition on October 6 and the Yamaha Cup competition at MetLife Stadium on October 13.
Again this year, Ridge also will host and perform at its own competition on October 27 at Lee Field. In November, the band will perform at Rutgers Stadium in the state championships and at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland in the US Bands national championships.
The competitions become even more intense later in the season, according to the band's leaders. "We still have a lot of cleaning up to do with both the drill and music," McKeon said.
Cedeno added that "the band is willing to work hard and strive to do well this season. There are other bands out there that are just as good as us, but when we’re being judged, the judges can tell which band wants to win most. They can feel the heart and soul of the players and as long as we keep up the intensity, we’ll have a successful season.”
Additional information about the band can be obtained from the band’s website.