Marching Band takes first at Simi, third at Royal

Borquez: ‘There’s a lot of twists in the different recognizable classical tunes’

Megan Johnson/Talon
Marching band prepares with final practices before taking field

With a combination of classical music, guitar riffs and a hip hop dance block, the Oak Park Marching Band took third place in their division at the annual Royal Marching Band Classic competition Oct. 13 and first in their division at Simi Valley’s Annual Band Spectacular Oct. 27.

Percussion also placed fourth and color guard second in their division.

Senior and drum major Samantha Heller said that Oak Park ranks among the top 15 marching bands in their division across Southern California, closed to be ranked second overall behind Canyon High School. This would qualify the band for championships — a competition the marching band has never attended before.

“At the Royal competition we scored a 61, and at the Simi competition we scored a 74, which is a 13-point difference,” Heller said. “That’s ridiculous and amazing.”

The marching band and color guard spend an average of eight to nine hours a week working to perfect their performance for the four competitions they participate in during first semester.

“Over the past two weeks between these two competitions, we not only completed our drill for the third movement, but we worked very meticulously and very closely with dynamics and articulations of all three movements, thus making our music sound stronger and more together,” Heller said.
During practices, band prepares for the many components they will need to have ready for their competitions such as positions, timing and transitioning between their three musical movements.

“We get dots or specific points on the field … we learn those dots and pictures for the show and then we’ll make the pictures, make sure everything’s exactly on time, we all start at the same time, we all end at the same time and we all make pictures that are aligned perfectly,” sophomore and marching band member Saanvi Athota said.

Between the two competitions, senior and drum major Morgan Cole said that the band recognized their areas for growth.

“I think we came in with more determination. We were really happy with how we did at Royal, but we know we could be better, so we really brought that,” Cole said. “We scored high in bands in divisions above us, which is rare.”

Megan Johnson/Talon
Marching band prepares with final practices before taking field

According to marching band members, Oak Park is closely-knit with Moorpark High School’s Marching Band, especially around the time of the Moorpark Country Days Parade and competition season. Moorpark placed first in their division at the Royal competition.

“Some of my favorite parts of competition are getting to see other bands and their different takes on how they choreographed their shows,” Athota said. “It’s just so fun to even talk to other bands and meet other people and it’s a great experience.”

Each marching band performance has its own unique meaning and distinct interpretation.

“I think we have done the show in a way that it can have both that professional, militaristic talent-expressing element, but also with the elements of fun and fun-lovingness that our band has,” Cole said. “Getting a lot of people to come out of their shell was definitely an obstacle, but I think it was so worth it because it worked … people become more confident.”

Royal High School senior Jenna Chergey joined marching band her junior year and said that her band felt better about this year’s performance compared to last year’s — they placed second in an upper division.

“We’re very proud of our scores,” Chergey said. “Even though it is a competition, it’s nice to see bands being friendly toward one another; there’s no hard feelings.”

Last year’s show was “The Planets” based off the work by Gustav Holst. This year’s theme is a bit more complex, according to band director Zachary Borquez.

“This [show] is classically based, but it’s not a straightforward interpretation,” Borquez said. “There’s a lot of twists in the different recognizable classical tunes you here, especially in the third movement. It’s especially unique; it opens up kind of like a concert, a hip hop or a rock concert, and then the band does a dance block in the middle of it. Then it goes back and finishes off with Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture,’ which is a classic gig ending.”