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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Holy Cross Values


Fr. Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, had a mission to always do more in order to completely educate the minds and hearts of students. While he saw the importance of educating the mind through literature, philosophy, science and mathetmatics, he equally saw the importance of developing the heart through music and fine arts. Moreau's Holy Cross schools were the first to not only offer sports teams to foster competition and teamwork, but also marching bands in order for students to become active in music. St. Ed's Marching Band has grown from its 24 members in 1949 to a 57-member group that has performed at many school and athletic events, local competitions and placed at the 2019 OMEA State Marching Band Finals with a Superior rating last weekend. With a Holy Cross legacy that continues to live on through St. Ed's mission to educate the minds and hearts of its students, St. Ed's Marching Band plays an integral role in our school community and Eagle pride.

"When we teach music, we are teaching aesthetics to young people. Bennett Reimer, a renowned researcher in music education, found that teaching music, an aesthetic education, has a wonderful 'side effect' in teaching morality to students," says Associate Director of Performing Arts Mr. Angelo Kortyka '98. "When students learn to recognize and create beauty in the world, they also learn that the decision making process is far more complex than simple black and white terms. This leads them to become more compassionate, understanding and just. Whether Fr. Basil Moreau knew this direct correlation or not, he knew that the arts were an important part in educating the hearts of young men."

This year, St. Ed's Marching Band had a goal to create a show that incorporates interesting, challenging music, with layers of educational content, while creating a visual package that brings the music to life. When designing their show, the Marching Band really wanted to use three pieces of music - "Erlkönig" by Richard Strauss, "Symphonie Fantastique" by Hector Berlioz, and a sample from the band Disturbd. To round out the show with other tunes that fit their theme, they added in "Mad World" by Gary Jules, "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saens and "Dies Irae" from Giuseppe Verdi's requiem and titled their set as "Descent into Madness. "I personally loved every part of this year's show and I really enjoyed watching the students grow to like these classic tunes as well," says Mr. Kortyka. "As we continue to learn the criteria laid out by OMEA from both design and performance perspectives, we are better at achieving more each season. The reputation of our program is increasing due to our consistency in qualifying for States and our ratings. A program that can consistently qualify and earn Superior ratings is the mark of something special going on from all aspects within that school community. This was our ninth year heading into States and our eighth year earning a Superior rating in that time - the beginning of a new legacy."

"The Marching Band started working together back in June and spent over 100 hours together even before they attended a week-long band camp," says Director of Liturgical Choir Mrs. Lisa Hirzel. "Students have really become a family across all instrument lines and grade levels. They teach each other, take care of each other and support one another through it all. As a group, they learn and work together and it's only as a group that they succeed or fail together."

"To me, earning a Superior rating at States this year was the perfect completion of my four years in the Marching Band," says Marching Band Drum Major Thomas Byrne '20. "The meaning of a Superior rating is that as a whole, the marching band surpassed expectations and paid attention to the most minute details. Having a large senior class this year meant that many members of our band were very skilled musicians and marchers who mentored the newer members well. The Superior rating represents how our hard work and dedication persisted and increased throughout the season. The Marching Band lives out our Holy Cross values, fosters strong leadership, strives for excellence and forms close relationships."

"St. Ed's Marching Band embodies our Holy Cross values across the board," says Mr. Kortyka. "I lead the band in prayer before every performance - we always thank God for giving us a school community that supports the growth of our program, for our audiences, for the opportunity to perform, for the gift of music and for the gift of each other. We recognize God's divine providence in that way. We also ask God to be with us as we perform to have our art proclaim the glory of God and exemplify our Holy Cross community, ultimately becoming something more than just music and motion. We're all in this together. I am very excited for the growth and opportunity for our returning and new students next year. I am confident that we will use this opportunity to create a new group of musicians and effective leaders."

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