Often to emerge victorious, sacrifices must be made.
Centaurus High School’s marching band did just that, taking first place at the Class 3A state championship in Grand Junction this week, with their modern interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” which ends with a simulated human sacrifice.
The Warriors, who were the 2012 3A state champions, beat Palisade High School in the final Monday evening by just a half point to win their second title ever.
Aaron Vogelsberg, director of the Warriors marching band, said he picked the Stravinsky piece in honor of the piece’s 100th anniversary, but also because it is dramatic and rhythmically challenging.
“The piece in general is really challenging, especially coupled with movement,” Vogelsberg said. “Following the preliminary rounds, the students knew we were actually behind Palisade and were a little down. I knew we were only a point behind them but didn’t tell the band because it would add unnecessary pressure in an already-tense situation.”
The Warriors had a break before their final performance of the evening, and six-year director Vogelsberg used the time to redirect the band’s focus and offer words of encouragement.
“Before our final performance I told the band not to worry about the points, how they placed or how the other bands performed, and to focus on competing against themselves,” Vogelsberg said. “In those final moments before the winners were announced, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous because I knew it was so close.”
But the Warriors persevered, outshining the Bulldogs in the general effects category, which grades how well the music lines up with the movement of the marching band.
Senior drum major Ruthann Niewoehner said the win was incredibly satisfying, as the band’s confidence was not nearly as high as it was last year.
“We didn’t have the same confidence, but we had a fire to win because we had tasted it last year,” she said.
Beth Schmid said her daughters, Amy, a sophomore trumpet player, and Megan, an eighth-grade color guard member, as well as the rest of the 113 members of the marching band had to put in extra hours and effort to make up for lost time due to the floods in September.
“The band was really nervous about losing a week of practice due to the flood,” Schmid said. “But we have an awesome band director who has assembled a great staff, who really knows how to work with and motivate the students. Their final performance was the best of their season.”
Niewoehner, who has worked under Vogelsberg’s direction since she was in seventh grade, said his positive influence as director has affected each and every member of the band.
“He’s just a great mentor and friend,” she said.
Moments after the news of their win, Niewoehner said the celebration was contagious. Many members of the band were crying tears of joy and hugging one another, but they also took a moment to shake hands with Palisade’s marching band members, congratulating them on a hard season.
“If you can imagine 113 high schoolers jumping up and down in excitement, that would pretty much sum up the scene,” she said. “If we put on our best show on the field, we’re unbeatable. And we did just that.”
Vogelsberg said the win meant a lot, but not nearly as much as the growth the band has shown this year.
“They have worked hard, dealt with adversity and accomplished more than the goals they set for themselves,” he said.