AVON - Avon High School marching band has a lot to be proud of this season, most recently sweeping the Maumee Music in Motion competition, winning Grand Champion and Best Music, Best General Effect and Best Percussion in their class Oct. 6.
Director Aaron Jacobs and senior field commander Ellie Cibulskas, 17, said every member of the 110-strong band played their part to win with this year's competition show, "Rojo."
"It's a pretty simple show concept, and over the last few years I've tried to go from things that are more conceptual and kind of avant-garde and artistic to things that are a little bit more accessible to the general public and music that is still challenging but also fun for us to work on," Jacobs said.
This year's show is based on Latin music, Jacobs said, with the first a more classical piece, followed by three Drum Corps International classics.
The group was one of two AA-class bands competing at the Ohio Music Education Association competition. AA is the largest class at most of the competitions the school attends, and is determined by the number of students enrolled in grades 10 to 12, not the number of students in the band.
Avon High School just qualifies to compete in class AA, meaning the band often competes against groups much larger than it, though at Maumee the other bands were mostly the same size or slightly smaller.
"It's a nice demarcation in we are able to compete against bands that are around our size, maybe a little smaller," Jacobs said of winning the awards Oct. 6. "We do very favorably, so it's nice to know that when that's kind of how we measure things that we're doing pretty well and we've progressed really nicely … That the hard work pays off, because this is not an easy activity."
Jacobs noted that this year's Music in Motion wasn't just another competition for the band. The group was thrown a curveball after groups were delayed from taking the field for more than an hour there was lightning and heavy storms. With anxiety about driving home and how late the competition would go, Jacobs and Cibulskas talked about leaving without competing, waiting until the last minute to make the decision. Once Jacobs got the green light to get the band on the field, they went "zero to hero" and put on one of their best performances of the season.
"When we finally got the call to go back on, I tried to fight for us to have an earlier time to go, and so I did and so the second I got the word I sprinted back to the gym and I was like, 'Let's go, we're going now,' and we had to hustle," Jacobs said.
While the band has received a lot of support from the community - with some football players attending local OMEA competitions - some residents may not have seen the group's competition show, which is not like regular halftime performances. The competition show is more lyrical and complex, Cibulskas said, a chance for members to pull their own weight and stretch their musical talent to get awards.
While their most recent win may not mean much in official standings, as the band already qualified for state competition and grand nationals, Avon High School's growing collection of trophies is proof that hard work pays off.
"The hours in the sun over the summer, the sectionals, the visual practices, those all work into effect and are compiling on top of each other to create a good show," Cibulskas said.
The band will compete at its last local OMEA event 4 p.m. Saturday at Brunswick's 36th annual Sound Spectacular. It will return to Brunswick on Nov. 3 for state competitions before heading to Indianapolis Nov. 8 to 10 for the Bands of America Grand Nationals competition at Lucas Oil Stadium. The band qualified for grand nationals earlier in their season and is their first time back in three years. The event includes bands from across the country competing in several classes.