Plainfield band wins title

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Fri., Nov. 22, 2013
(L to r) August Edwards, Brooklyn Brown, Spencer LaFlamme, Samantha Allard and Keith Sheeley surround a table full of trophies. Photo by D. Coffey.
(L to r) August Edwards, Brooklyn Brown, Spencer LaFlamme, Samantha Allard and Keith Sheeley surround a table full of trophies. Photo by D. Coffey.

The Plainfield High School marching band won the state title and the all New England title in Division IIA at the USBands New England State Championships on Oct. 26. They came in ahead of nine other bands from the region and took home a glittery 3-foot tall trophy. It sits outside the band room on a table filled with other trophies and certificates of recognition they’ve received this year. Four-year Band Director Kacey Howard attributes the band’s success to its growing popularity and the dedication of her band members.

“Every year we’ve added 10 more band members to the program,” she said. “And every year they’ve surpassed our expectations.” This is the fourth year the band has entered the USBands competition. This year’s show was the most musically demanding so far, according to Howard. “I just keep demanding more and more every year,” she said. “They’ve met me every year with more rigorous drill and music.”

This year’s show, “A Night at the Ballet Russe,” featured sections from Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” “Petrushka” and “Firebird.” Howard picked the songs because she thought they were exciting and adaptable for the field, and also to celebrate Stravinsky’s 100th anniversary.

The songs were from ballets which were premiered by the Ballet Russe in Russia. Howard began her training by having the students watch videos of ballet performances. She wanted them to understand what the music was trying to portray.

The first indication that her strategy worked was when drum major Keith Sheeley acknowledged the audience at the start of the show. He did so with a graceful bow and flourish rather than a stiff salute. Then he turned to his band and gave them their orders. And while the music was technically demanding and graceful, its arrangement (by Howard’s husband, Christopher) was perfect for the precise movements and crisp steps of the band and the artful contribution of the color guard.

For Sheeley, winning the awards was worth every minute of the painstaking drills and hundreds of hours of practice. “It was a rush, an adrenaline high,” he said of their performance. Junior flutist Brooklyn Brown called it the greatest experience of her life.

Howard complimented them on their hard work and dedication. “They’re starting to grasp the hard work it takes to be the best at something,” she said.


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