By SHERIDAN CYR
Just one week before the Southington Blue Knights Marching Band heads into their state competition, BKMB hosted their biggest fundraiser event of the season: the annual Music of the Knight bash.
“There’s been a really high-energy, positive mood all day,” said BKMB publicity director Michelle Barbour. While the SHS band did not compete on Saturday, band members welcomed all of the bands to their home turf and escorted them to where they needed to be. BKMB had a chance to watch the competition from the side-lines.
MOTK kicked off with exhibitions from the Kennedy and DePaolo Middle School marching bands, moving swiftly into the competition, and finishing off with exhibitions from marching bands from the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University…and the Knights.
“We’re seeing some of the best bands in the state today. This is also a great opportunity for us to showcase our hospitality,” said band backers president Dan Noonan. “The band learns new things every day, whether it’s new visuals, or changes in footing, but this is a close-knit group. They’re family. They root for each other and pick each other up.”
Noonan said the team owes great thanks to the Southington Board of Education and SHS administration for supporting music and arts education.
Southington High School band members even showed up to lend their support to the other local musicians. When Kennedy and DePaolo’s middle school bands took the field for their exhibitions, they were met by lines of high school musicians, in uniform, to give high-fives.
“It’s so important to support that interest,” said Noonan. “These students will go on to be great members of society and many will return to Southington, where they know their interests are supported.”
With states being right around the corner, band director Sara Ossias said she feels confident in the band’s ability to succeed.
“Our goal is to always give the best possible performance for any competition night,” said Ossias. “Music of the Knight really helped set us up for what I think is going to be a great showing at states.”
Due to the weather, rehearsal time has been a challenge, reported the director. However, students have grown a great deal as musicians and performers this season, she said.
“I am very proud of all the work they have done this season, and the student leadership within the band is outstanding, which makes a huge difference during rehearsal time,” she said. “I also need to commend our marching band staff members as well. Without their hard work and dedication to this program, we would not have been able to accomplish all the amazing things we have throughout this season so far.”
Band members were lively at MOTK and excited to watch their competition from an outsiders’ perspective.
“It’s helpful for us to be able to see how other bands do,” said SHS flutist Cassie Noonan.
Southington has shown improvement throughout the season. The band opened the competitive season on Sept. 22 with a score of 80.325 in Naugatuck. A week later, the band improved four points to score 84.625 at Norwich Free Academy, and they did it again, posting a season-high 88.275 in Cheshire. The regular season competition concluded in Trumbull (84.7) on Oct. 13.
SHS color guard member Mackenzie Costello said the team’s performance has improved week after week. “It was a challenge getting synced in the beginning,” she said. “Now, we’re just working on the little details in order to prepare for states.”
Now comes the biggest challenge. Southington will face the top area teams at the USBands NE States Championship in New Britain on Saturday, Oct. 27 to advance to the regional competition in Danbury on Saturday, Nov. 3. The national competition is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.