The Evanstonian

Marching into halftime

Nora Miller, Staff Writer

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Not only are they the group that escorts the football team with the fight song, Evanston’s marching band also electrifies Wildkit fans with a stellar halftime performance.

Band directors Matthew Bufis and Haley Nichol lead this year’s themed show titled Dancing at the Savoy, featuring a number of jazz tunes from the 1930s.

“This year’s theme is full of pizazz. When I think of jazz, I think of charisma and excitement,” sophomore Hope Leman explains.

In the past, themes like The Matrix soundtrack and last year’s winning theme of a compilation of Motown melodies have been performed. After winning a state championship in 2017, the band continues this year with playing more songs on the field in comparison to recent seasons. The program also has the largest number of members with a count of around 130.

“We’re trying to extend our reach not only to the crowd or band but to all performers. Where everyone is during each set, makes a difference,” senior drum major Audrey Wientjes says.

The halftime show consists of 40 different drill sets. Completion of the first movement, the song “King of Swing,” is focused on throughout a four-day band camp intensive over the summer. As school begins, marching band members spend weekly three-hour practices on refining music for games and competitions.

“We work with the band to help visualize the music for the show. All the work is fluid, whenever there are certain hits in the music, we use that to impact our tone,” color guard captain Aoife Gavagan says.

During the performance, a vibrant show sends spectators back in time to the golden age of jazz, staring the songs, “King of Swing”, “Minnie the Moocher”, “Stormy Weather”, and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

In the spirit of big band swing performance, Evanston focuses on featuring students with five total solos.

To start the show with a bang, trumpet soloist, Asher Barron, stands atop a table to grab the audience’s attention.

“This season has its ups and downs, but we’ve vamped up the work ethic and we hope it comes through in the show,” Wientjes continues.

The visual aspect of the production does not disappoint as color guard and choral vocalists are dressed in neon green zoot suits, aimed to replicate fashion from the time period.

In hopes of a response from viewers, solo vocalist, Howard Godfrey, sings live with large note cards for the audience to respond to during the song, “Minnie the Moocher.”

“Last year, one of the pieces we did was ‘My Girl’ which happens to be a timeless tune everyone seems to know. The student section started to sing back which hasn’t happened in the past ten years or so,” Bufis says.

After Godfrey performs, backup vocalists carry him across the field to entertain and transition into the next movement.

“It’s been really fun, everything is running smoothly, and the crowd responded at the September 7 game. It felt really great, and there was a lot of energy,” Godfrey explains.

The next home football game you attend, indulge in the jazz theatrics and you will be walking out of the stands with a song in your head and tap in your foot movement.

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Marching into halftime