Hello Hart Rampage, my old friend

Can you hear it: the crescendo of a masterpiece ready to be unleashed?

On Nov. 4, West Ranch’s very own Wildcat Marching Band, Percussion Program, and Colorguard set foot into the College of Canyons (COC) Cougar football stadium without a word, painting over the field with only their harmonious melodies to perform their 2017 production “Art of Silence” at the 34th annual Hart Rampage competition.

The Rampage — a popular high school marching band competition in Southern California — is hosted by Hart High School to highlight the creativity, drive, and devotion that participants integrate into their performances as individuals and as a team. This year, 36 marching bands hailing from Santa Barbara to Simi Valley competed for awards within their divisions and overall trophies known as sweepstakes.

Starting at 10 a.m., band after band entered and walked out the stadium, the crowd in the stands left each time stunned by what the productions had to offer. Before long, the sun had set and it was 8:25 p.m. — time for Wildcat Marching Band to stand by before heading out to the field.

As the marching band and colorguard lined up against the metal gates to the field, awaiting further orders from music director Jason Marshall, soft whispers crawled up and down flutes, nimble fingertips tip-toed around keys on clarinets, and black dress shoes nervously tapped to the invisible rhythm floating in the air.

Marching band gets ready to enter the College of Canyons stadium to perform “Art of Silence.”

Mina Jang

While walking down the cluster of band members dripping of sweat, I bumped into junior Caroline Voetberg who clutched her baritone tightly against her chest and beamed right at me amidst the tense atmosphere.

“There’s a lot that’s hard about marching band. You have to work together as a team most importantly, and you have to do not only just the physical aspect, but you also have to do the musicality which can be pretty rough [and is] something a lot of sport-type things do not do,” said Voetberg.

And she was right; in preparation for such competitions like the Rampage, all throughout summer, color guard and percussion practiced two days a week. About three weeks before school started, the whole band would then come together and rehearse every day Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. When school began, the West Ranch marching band, percussion, and color guard practiced on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays: three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and seven hours on Saturdays.

Yet for those like Voetberg, the packed schedule and exhausting practices were all worth it.

“I enjoy marching band a lot, so I’m here for the friends,” said Voetberg. “I’m here for the fun, and I’m here for the family.”

Color guard and marching band members enters the field after percussion.

Mina Jang

After Marshall ushered the performers to enter the stadium, I waved good-bye to her retreating figure before rushing up the packed stands to watch Wildcat Marching Band perform “Art of Silence,” their creation they had worked so tirelessly over the months to perfect.

Under the pale moonlight, the sea of viewers’ faces jerked up at the first iconic notes of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” that echoed across the stadium.

“I enjoy the beginning of our closer movement the most because when all the marimbas finish the run, we all look in, pulsing with a bright look on our faces,” said marimba player Isabel Zheng. “It reminds me why I’m still in the program, and I feel like out of all the moments in the show, I express myself the best there.”

Shouts of encouragement of “Amazing!” and “You’re doing great!” thundered from the gaping mouths of West Ranch marching band fans as the ensemble of students strode across the grass with precision and pride, coming together to play a rich, clear harmony.

Here, West Ranch Wildcat Marching Band, color guard, and percussion show their 2017 performance, “Art of Silence,” to the large crowd of marching band supporters.

Mina Jang

“The best part of the Hart Rampage [is] definitely performing in the huge stadium with a bunch of my friends and family watching,” said synth player Eden Habtemariam.

Along with the sweet-sounding, melodic genius of the marching band were colorguard who swayed against the chilly air, lifting up their golden flags, and percussion members in the pit who slammed their mallets against drums before quieting down.

“The part of the pit isn’t the main focus of the music; it’s a whole different world a bit like the life of the main character’s best friend: important and very interesting but not what the story is about,” said Zheng. “It really amazes me how our music compliments the band yet also sounds like it could be played without the band.”

As the performers joined together for the finale, they raised their instruments to the sky and blasted out the end to their tune in unison; the crowd — getting up from the stands and waving their blue flags up high — chanted “West Ranch” again and again after the flurry of students who marched away.

After there was a break, percussion members from all the participating schools joined together to keep the crowd in high spirits by walking around the stadium while playing their drums, shouting for the people in the crowds to cheer at the top of their lungs. When finished, all the drum majors (the student leaders of each marching band) walked into the stadium; it was time for awards._DSC0516.JPG

With grins plastered on their faces, drum majors Shane Cho, Christian Delgadillo, Tommy Weber, and Matty Frierson stepped up to the center of the field, greeting the Hart High School students as they handed them the following prizes: first place in band in the 5A division, percussion sweepstakes (high music caption award), and colorguard sweepstakes.

At the Hart Rampage, West Ranch Marching Band brought together the performers, music-lovers, onlookers, families, and friends, connecting their hearts and minds for a few minutes to the deafening sound behind “Art of Silence.”

Simon and Garfunkel would be proud.