‘Fanfare’ event promotes performance, excellence for 16 area marching bands

Photos by Tom Tigani

Photos by Tom Tigani

Elizabeth Bender (left) of the Royal Oak High School marching band prepares to buy a button from Roosevelt High School band booster Jane Theisen at Downriver Fanfare. At right, the Wayne Memorial High School Front Ensemble entertains passers-by along Eureka Road.

By Tom Tigani
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — Music was in the air and on the Roosevelt High School football field Tuesday afternoon and evening as marching bands from around Downriver and metropolitan Detroit gathered to perform at the sixth annual Downriver Fanfare.

The event is meant to be a friendly gathering of neighborhood bands, said Mark D’Angelo, director of instrumental music at Roosevelt, and though there was an element of competition, “every band received the opportunity to perform in front of a very supportive Wyandotte audience.”

“I was really pleased,” he said. “When we started six years ago we had five bands. This year we had 16. We had a good night and the weather was perfect.

“All the students that performed were really excited and performed their best shows.”

The contest was organized by the RHS Instrumental Music Department in partnership with the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. Bands were judged in categories of music performance, music effect, marching performance and overall visual effect. Caption awards categories included percussion and color guard.

Marching band is both an aural and visual craft, organizers said, with students working to march together in uniformity while playing their music to the best of their ability. The Wilson Middle School band from Wyandotte performed the national anthem and the “Wyandotte Fight Song” to start the event. Dearborn Heights Annapolis High School performed in exhibition, marking their first appearance at the Fanfare.

In Class C competition were Taylor Kennedy High School, Romulus Summit Academy and Flat Rock High School. Flat Rock took first place with a “Tribute to Journey,” with a caption award for color guard.

In second place was Romulus Summit Academy with its high-energy show, “Funktastic Voyage.” Taylor Kennedy High School came in third, with a caption award for percussion. The band’s show featured what organizers called a “delightful and quirky” presentation of “Music From Danny Elfman.”

Competing in Class B were the bands from Trenton High School, Wayne Memorial High School and Grosse Ile High School. Trenton took first place and a caption award for color guard. Their “Magic!” show was performed complete with magic tricks and snake charming.

Wayne Memorial came in second place, with a caption award for percussion. Their show featured “Music From Carmen.” Grosse Ile was third with what organizers called an “exciting and danceable” show, “The Big Band Theory,” featuring arrangements of big band standards from the 1940s.

Class A competition included Lincoln Park High School, Taylor Truman High School, Dearborn Heights Crestwood High School, Southgate Anderson High School, Gibraltar Carlson High School, Westland John Glenn High School, and Royal Oak High School.

Westland John Glenn High School came in first not only in Class A, but also received the Downriver Fanfare Best in Show Trophy for its performance of “KA: The Music of Cirque Du Soleil.” Southgate Anderson High School came in second with their “Geometric Spectrum” show and received caption awards for color guard and percussion.

Carlson, which also performed “KA,” finished third. The marching Marauders also received the Esprit de Corps award for what organizers called their display of great positive attitude, as well as their embodiment of what marching band is all about.

The hosts of the show, the Wyandotte Marching Chiefs, performed in their new uniforms for exhibition with the composer of their show, Steve Martin, in attendance. They performed what D’Angelo called an exciting and emotional show, “In the Arena.”

With sound provided by Jim Zang of Bass Note Productions, the band performed music that accompanied the “In the Arena” speech delivered by school namesake Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

Sponsored by Target and Kohl’s, the event marked Julie Taylor’s third year as Downriver Fanfare chairwoman.