Huntington High School’s Blue Devil marching band emerged from its annual intensive camp stronger than ever and ready to entertain crowds and go toe-to-toe with the best bands in the state in a series of competitions.
A mini-camp was followed by a weeklong, full-day camp that was held at J. Taylor Finley Middle School. Musicians and color guard members worked hard to master this year’s field show, The Power Within. The results are impressive.
The band put on a Sunday show for parents and family members, which was well received by everyone, including district officials who turned out for the afternoon event.
“The band is so excited for this season,” senior Christiana DeLuca said. “Especially because of how well band camp went.”
The setting at Finley proved ideal for the band to work on nailing down this year’s show. The group had the building and fields to itself. Absent distractions, the musicians and color guard members made rapid progress.
“I had the pleasure of spending each afternoon with the band during its camp,” said Eric Reynolds, district director of fine and performing arts. “As the week went on, not only did the overall band sound start to form nicely, but the sense of group and togetherness was palpable.”
Katie Riley, Mathew Hearl and Jennifer Low are the Blue Devils’ drum majors. James Obermaier is the field major. This year’s show is called The Power Within.
“The kids worked incredibly hard at camp and we are so proud of their progress with this year’s show, said Jennifer Schmelter, the band’s co-director. “The band looks great and we are looking forward to a successful season.”
The Blue Devils will march in a pair of parades this fall, perform at halftime of several home varsity football games and compete in a string of regional shows before trekking to Syracuse for the state championships.
“This was my fifth and final band camp and as expected we got so much accomplished in just one week,” Ms. Riley said. “In order to successfully execute the concept of The Power Within our drill and music are much more challenging this year. Band members did a fantastic job learning all of the various elements as demonstrated by our amazing performance at the parent show. I can’t wait to see how we progress throughout the season.”
Patrick Neary is the band’s co-director. Rich Guillen is the music arranger. Jason Giachetti is handling percussion arrangements and the battery and pit designs. George Nelson is in charge of drill design. Mallory Martilla and Patrick Neary are handling the color guard design. The battery instructors are Sudwip Debnath, Derek Schmelter and Jarod Sullivan. Chris Wink is the brass instructor. Mallory Martilla is the color guard’s instructor. Corina Antonucci and Sean Lucas are pit instructors. Sudwip Debnath, Dan DeOliveira and Jarod Sullivan are visual instructors. Katherine Adams is the band’s woodwind instructor. Brian Stellato is also serving as an instructor as well as the band’s coordinator.
“We have an amazing group this year; the enthusiasm is through the roof,” Mr. Obermaier said. “Everyone is learning so much in such a short period of time and performing with such energy. I have full confidence, given the work I’ve seen people put in during the camp, that our band is more than prepared for the upcoming season. Expect great things.”
The competitive season will commence on Sunday, September 16 at Brentwood and continue with showdowns at Copiague (Sunday, September 23), Malverne (Saturday, September 29), Walt Whitman (Saturday, October 6), Arlington (Sunday, October 7), Sachem (Sunday, October 14) and Mineola (Saturday, October 20). The state championships are slated for Saturday-Sunday, October 27-28 in Syracuse.
“In observing the drill, or visual effect, the color guard members worked tirelessly during the week to perfect their spins and time their choreography,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Members of the band spent the morning working hard studying their placements on the field for each section of music. The family show performance was impressive seeing and hearing the work completed by the musicians and guard members.”
The band will march in the Huntington Station Parade on Saturday, September 22 and again in the Homecoming Day Parade on Saturday, October 20.
“The two long weeks of band camp turned out as a fantastic success,” Mr. Hearl said. “The musical arrangement and choreography on the field all fell into place. Between the dedication of the staff and the determination of the band, the HBDMB 2018 program shows great promise for the upcoming competitive season.”
The band will perform at halftime of varsity football games on the following Saturdays: September 22, September 29 and October 20.
“We had a really amazing week and everyone was working so hard the whole time,” Ms. Low said. “We were thankfully able to learn our entire show and the band is looking forward to an amazing season.”
Huntington High School music teacher James Cloyd Doty organized the first band in 1934. It was open to boys and girls in all four classes, according to the 1936 edition of The Huntingtonian, the high school yearbook. “Although newly organized, this group has worked very hard and with the cooperation of the student body, the band members have received blue and white uniforms,” states the yearbook. “They gave a new feeling of school spirit to all of the occasions at which they appeared this year.”
More than eight decades after its founding, the Blue Devil band is still going strong. The late summer camp has set the stage for what everyone hopes will be a very special season.
“The staff has chosen an outstanding show this year,” Mr. Reynolds said. “The message behind The Power Within is relatable and the original band compositions are exciting, fresh and invoke feeling and reflection. This season looks to be another successful campaign by our Huntington Blue Devil marching band and I wish the staff and students many weeks ahead of fun, rewarding experiences and success.”