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Students, director excited to show off skills at home field
Musicians, color guard, props and flags are in constant motion in this action-packed show highlighting things — manmade and from nature — that go “Up in the Air.” (Photo courtesy Tournament of Bands Region 8)
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Tournament of Bands
When the opportunity arose for a high school in Region 8 to host the Tournament of Bands state competition this year, McKeesport Area’s band director Drew DeCarlo immediately was interested.
“Last year, it was up to a band in Region 11 to host, so we went to Altoona for the first states competition,” DeCarlo said. “This is just only the second year for States.”
With McKeesport Area’s experience in hosting competitions through its annual home show, held this year on Oct. 14, the band director let TOB know they would be glad to be considered.
A total of 15 high school bands plus Seton Hill University will be represented at states, which kicks off shortly after 3 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 28).
Although some of the participating bands have appeared at some of the same competitions, states includes shows from others they’ve not encountered before.
McKeesport Area, Serra Catholic and East Allegheny bands are coming off first-place finishes at regionals, hoping for state titles in their respective categories.
McKeesport senior drum major Tina Wos said she is excited to see the other bands perform their shows, although she has mixed feelings about States being on their home field.
“I’m both excited and bummed that the states’ show is at McKeesport,” Wos said. “I really like that we get to perform on our field, under our lights, in our stadium. I’m sort of bummed because I love a good bus ride or a longer competition day, but the goods of hosting it here definitely outweigh the bads.”
Junior field commander Cooper Kuchma said, “I am most looking forward to see how the production of the show looks at States. I know we still have a few visuals to add and other changes to make, so I’m excited to see how they fit in.”
Wos said she is excited to see the other bands perform their shows. Explaining she and Kuchma usually watch “everyone’s performances super closely and break them apart, so being able to understand the storylines and what/when certain things are happening has always been really enjoyable for me.
“All in all, I’m really excited to see some new shows and stories that we haven’t seen before,” she said.
During summer band camp, Kuchma commented on the challenges of learning the music and drill for the fast-paced show.
From his perspective as a tuba player and field conductor, he said, “The members of the band definitely got a lot better at keeping up with the pace of our show. I think all the new, difficult things we were doing just got less overwhelming for everyone.”
As far as what audiences who have not seen “Up in the Air” can expect, Kuchma said, “The highlight of our show is definitely the third movement. It features the coolest music, drill, and visual out of the whole performance.”
Approaching her final marching band performance as drum major, Wos said, “Truthfully, I think this is the proudest I have ever felt to be a part of this band. When we were in the beginning of the season, I had no idea of what this show was going to become.
“I think we pushed ourselves really hard to be a good Bands of America band (competition was Oct. 7 in Toledo, Ohio) that we turned into a really great PIMBA/TOB band, and nothing has gotten in our way since. Each performance has progressed throughout the season, and our scores have reflected that,” Wos said.
Marching Band: 1-A
3:15 p.m. – Ligonier Valley High School
3:30 p.m. – Serra Catholic High School
3:45 p.m. – Johnstown High School
4 p.m. – Eisenhower High School
4:15 p.m. Conemaugh Twp. High School
Marching Band: 2-A
4:30 p.m. – Derry Area High School
4:45 p.m. -- DuBois Area High School
5 p.m. – East Allegheny High School
5:15 p.m. -- Tyrone High School
Marching Band: 4-A
6 p.m. – Woodland Hills
Marching Band: 3-0
6:15 p.m. – Mifflin County High School
6:30 p.m. – Penn-Trafford High School
Marching Band: 1-0
6:45 p.m. – Youngsville High School
Marching Band: 2-0
7 p.m. – McGuffey High School
7:15 p.m. McKeesport Area High School
Marching Band: UN
7:30 p.m. – Seton Hill University
Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a freelance contributor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published October 27, 2023.