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Best of the Week 2020-2021: Excellence in College Prep


With the cancellation of in-person marching band competitions, St. Ed's Marching Eagles turned a negative into a positive, performing for virtual competitions through Bands of America, the Ohio Music Education Association, and the University of Central Missouri Festival of Champions. The University of Central Missouri will be providing ratings, rankings, and comments from experts in the Marching Arts to help guide the Marching Eagles' rehearsals to improve the quality of their competitive performance.

"In a typical year, St. Ed's Marching Band learns two shows, one for football games that utilizes music selected by the seniors with less complicated drill and setup, and one for our competitions that involves more complex music, drill, and instrumentation," says Director of Performing Arts Angelo Kortyka '98. "Typically 80% or more of our time is dedicated to perfecting the competitive show. The competitions are a nice motivator for students, as they provide ratings and rankings, but they are not seminal to what we do. The reason we compete has always been to hear feedback from judges to better ourselves. The feedback is then incorporated to help improve not only the students' performance, but our instruction as well. This year has been a great opportunity to remind the students of the true purpose of adjudication and to recalibrate our overall vision for the band's goals. The best bands don't worry about rankings or ratings - they focus on improving themselves as much as they can."

This year's competitive show is based on the music of British composers Gustav Holst and Percy Aldridge Grainger, entitled "The Traveler." The show is designed to elicit scenes one might expect traveling through the English countryside, forming a triptych of sorts where the traveler comes across a marching band, a love lost, and a midsummer revel. With the help of Film teacher Maya Wanner, the St. Ed's Marching Eagles submitted their competition video and are awaiting feedback to improve execution and design of their performance.

"We have turned the unique aspects of our program into strengths," says Mr. Kortyka. "By utilizing small group sessions since the beginning of the season and holding outdoor rehearsals, students have done a great job in traditional marching band experiences while following safety guidelines. They have created their own sense of camaraderie and have bonded through their appreciation to still perform together no matter the differences this year has brought."

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