With summer rehearsals and a week-long camp successfully wrapped up, the Huntington High School Blue Devil marching band is ready for what it hopes will be a very special fall season.
The professional staff is headed by marching band director Jessica Castaneda and assistant director Brian Stellato. The experienced duo are old hands at getting the best performances out of every member of the band.
As is tradition, band camp was capped off with a family show on the J. Taylor Finley Middle School athletic field. Parents and district officials were treated to a preview of this season’s show, New World.
“I think the band worked extremely hard during band camp and training camp and their efforts paid off tremendously as seen in the family show,” Ms. Castaneda said. “This will push them to further success throughout the season. The students learned so much and also had a lot of fun making friends and memories at band camp. Band members felt that they left camp with a huge goal reached of properly learning techniques and the show and they still have a desire to improve upon it once school starts. There was no way this could have been done without the incredible staff that we are so lucky to have.”
The summer marching band camp
was a success. (Darin Reed photo)
Ms. Castaneda was the band’s co-director last year. A graduate of Middletown High School in New York, she obtained an undergraduate degree in music education with a performance certificate in clarinet at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. She earned a master’s degree in clarinet performance at the University of Oklahoma, where she served as a graduate teaching assistant.
Ms. Castaneda joined the Huntington School District’s music department faculty in 2011. She currently teaches fourth grade band at Southdown and Jefferson primary schools and general classroom music at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. Prior to becoming co-director of the Blue Devil marching band in 2015, she was the woodwind tech for four seasons.
The professional staff has many familiar faces in it. Dan DeOliveira and Jen Schmelter will handle visuals while Derek Schmelter and Jason Giachetti will guide the battery.
Chris Wink (brass), Jen Schmelter (woodwinds), Samantha LoBue (color guard), Patrick Neary (color guard), Amy Steinmann (front ensemble), Rich Guillen (music arranger), Jason Giachetti (percussion arranger) and George Nelson (drill design) are also filling important staff positions.
The band’s student leaders have years of experience with the Blue Devils. Rachel Roday and Anjali Kapur are this year’s drum majors. Connor Grosso is the field major. Jamie Rosenbaur captains the woodwind section while Jordan Biener serves as the brass captain. Dawson Wallace is the drum captain. Olivia Baldanza will captain the band’s color guard.
Katy Dara and Shannon Foley are the flute section leaders. Peter Ciccone and Jamie Rosenbauer are the clarinet section leaders. Mardnie Mentor leads the alto saxophone section. Torre Palmer heads the tenor saxophone/baritone saxophone section. Connor Grosso and Aidan McCooey serve as the trumpet section leaders.
Adina Kirkland is this year’s mellophone section leader. Jordan Biener heads the low brass section. William Fallon and Cailan Polishook are the front ensemble section leaders.
The competitive season will get underway on Sunday, September 18 at Brentwood. Competitions at Copiague, Malverne, Arlington, Sachem and Mineola will follow. The state championships are scheduled for late October at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.