Autumn Fanfare: a show like no other

8 Oct

IMG_9545Since I began this blog about ten years ago, I’ve written countless times about the Webster Marching Band. I’ve met and worked with several different band directors over the years. I traded emails with the band booster leadership team. I’m friends with people whose kids are — and were — in the band. So I thought I had a pretty good idea of the talent and commitment is takes to be a part of this prestigious group.

But then I attended my very first Autumn Fanfare and I realized that I was sorely mistaken.

It’s really rather embarrassing for me to admit that the 2018 Autumn Fanfare was the first I had ever attended. But whatever the reasons for that, I finally did make it over to Webster Schroeder stadium last Saturday night for the 33rd annual Autumn Fanfare Field Show and Competition. And I was blown away.

Until that night, most of the times I had see our Pride of Webster Marching Band was when they were, well, marching down the middle of Main Street in a parade, or standing in neat rows at Webster Rural Cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremonies. I had never actually seen them doing their thing on the football field.

It is an impressive sight. Almost 70 smartly-dressed kids moving in sync like a well-drilled Army unit, at the same time PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT. People who pride themselves on being able to walk and chew gum at the same time have got nothing on these kids.

And at Saturday night’s event, we got to enjoy the artistry of six other marching bands as well, from Leroy, Hilton, Orchard Park, Medina, East Irondequoit and Victor,  who together provided 90 minutes of music, pageantry and spectacle.

As I watched and snapped about a thousand photos, these are some of the thoughts I came away with:

* These bands don’t just get out there, walk around and play music. The shows are full musical productions, complete with elaborate set pieces (check out Stonehenge in one of my photos) and detailed story lines (one school even had several performers act out part of the story). The music is rich, and usually presented in a series of movements, guiding spectators through the story’s intricacies.

* Every performance by every school is completely different. One school hid behind their set pieces at the beginning of the show, so it looked like no one was on the field. Another put down their instruments a few times for some coordinated dance moves. There was a huge moon, geometric shapes, and yes, even Stonehenge.

* The shows are changed every year, which means a new story, new music, new set pieces, new choreography, and often new costumes and flags for the color guard.

* Think marching bands are all trumpets and drums? Webster’s 2018 production, “Heart Strings: Tugged and Torn” features violins, a stand-up electric bass and two flute soloists.

* Band parents are as invested in these competitions as much as — or even more than — any sports parent. They are cheerleaders, critics, coaches, and analysts. They are the roadies, helping set up the complicated sets and running out on the field after the final note to break everything down and move it out as quickly as possible. And if you’re school is hosting an event like this, if you’re not a roadie you’re still working hard selling tickets, running the raffle, manning food booths, or selling merchandise.

* And oh, by the way, while you’re competing, not only do you have to remember all your music, where to walk without running into anyone, and how to toss that heavy flag without dropping it, you have to do all of that while a judge is walking through the ranks, sometimes just feet away from you, watching you, JUDGING you, and communicating his observations with the head judge at the sideline. Talk about pressure.

There were winners and losers that night (it was a competition after all). But since pretty much everybody was in a different division — and Webster was just performing for exhibition — the only real competition was in the Small School 1 division between Medina and East Irondequoit, which Medina won.

But for everyone in the stands, the entire evening was a winner. And I will definitely be back again next year.

Click here to see a whole gallery of photos from the 2018 Autumn Fanfare Field Show and Competition.

 

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4 Responses to “Autumn Fanfare: a show like no other”

  1. Anne Marie Porter October 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

    Is there a video of their show? I was unable to to to the pageant.

    • websterontheweb October 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

      I don’t know — you’ll have to ask an actual band person.

  2. Larry Kilbury October 9, 2018 at 1:58 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this blog of yours. I will have Betty and I attend next time. Thank you, Larry Kilbury

    • websterontheweb October 9, 2018 at 6:34 am #

      Thank you Larry! I hope to see you two at the watering hole again soon.

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