KUCHING: Hard work on an exceptionally challenging music programme — an adaptation of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov’s ‘Piano Concerto No 2’— led St Joseph School Marching Band to a first-place finish at the recent US Bands Yamaha Cup in New York.
The band emerged champion in the Division III A category after scoring 90.1 as a result of a stellar performance at MetLife Stadium at East Rutherford in New Jersey. They also swept all caption categories including the highest scores for visual, music, overall effect, percussion and colour guard to upstage 53 other top high school bands at the Sept 26 competition.
Jet-lag and acclimatisation were no excuse, as the band immediately went about their training and rehearsals in an intensive boot camp upon their arrival on Sept 17. Determination clearly paid off for the boys and girls of the school’s marching band.
“I have to commend their hard work, discipline and commitment. They were very teachable, responsive to the training given by world class instructors in Kennesaw (Georgia) to help them improve their performance in a 4-day band camp, and tried their best despite being jet-lagged, exhausted and a few having coughs and colds.
“The competition was the culmination of months of hard work on an exceptionally challenging music programme,” SJS Band director June Ling told a press conference at Kuching International Airport (KIA) Thursday evening to celebrate the band’s triumphant return.
Excited parents and family members were there to welcome the band home and among those who came were Assistant Minister of Youth Development (Urban Areas) Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Senator Datuk Dr Sim Hui Kian, who is SJS Band advisor and Old Josephians’ Association chairman.
Ling attributed the marvellous feat to SJS Band programme coordinator Jonathan Fox, who managed to assemble a team of international experts to work closely with the students.
“The team consists of a global collaboration between our local staff and top American instructors. An All-Star Creative team from Drum Corp International collaborated with local music arrangers to write and teach the music and drill books for the show. We are honoured and inspired by their willingness to share knowledge with us and learned a great deal from their work ethics, organisational skills, professionalism and humility.”
She expressed her gratitude to the support from the state and federal governments, corporate sponsors including SJS Band Parent’s Association president Zuraimi Sabki.
Ling also extended her gratitude to Kennesaw folk who opened their homes to host the students for five days. During that time, the students enjoyed incredible hospitality and first rate practice facilities provided by Kennesaw Mountain High School. Event organiser the Cadets also provided logistic assistance throughout the trip including lending the band an entire pit ensemble instruments.
Throughout their trip from Sept 17 to 29, the band was brought sightseeing in Boston and New York City to round up what she deemed an incredible cultural and educational experience for the students, accompanying parents and teachers alike.
Fox, in a statement, congratulated the band for their incredible achievement.
“The joy of this experience was the journey itself and the final emotional on-field performance at the world famous stadium, and not so much the results of the adjudication. There were many fine bands performing that day and hats off to all of them.
“For those of us at St Joseph’s camp in Malaysia and the US, the outstanding staff, hard work and perseverance through the elements, the achievement of numerous goals and growing closer together through adversity and challenges both physically and artistically… those were the magical moments.”