Band showcase wows at War Memorial

By on October 23, 2019

The annual Ephrata High School Marching Unit Showcase of Bands kicked off at Ephrata War Memorial Field at 5 p.m. Oct. 19.

Students from as far away as Wissahickon and Pottstown High Schools joined local bands from Cocalico, Annville Cleona, Lampeter-Strasburg, Manheim Township, and Tulpehocken High schools to perform to a nearly sellout crowd.

Organized by the Lancaster County Marching Band Coalition, the Showcase is non-competitive. Student musicians receive feedback by professional judges, so they can continue to develop and grow for each performance, however, there are no scores or rankings and all bands and spectators sit on the home stands.

According to Ephrata Director of Bands Steve Goss, the students walk away with a sense of comradery from performing in front of their peers.

While the Showcase is non-competitive, there is a traveling marching skills trophy awarded. Each band provides student representatives by grade, who are judged on their marching skills. Host marching unit Ephrata took home this year’s trophy, a first for the band.

Marching Band Showcase at Ephrata War Memorial Field Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019
Cocalico High School Marching Band

As with most Marching Bands in Lancaster County, Ephrata School district pays for staffing and instruments, but a large part of the program expenses are covered by band boosters and parents, and the Showcase is one of four major fundraisers for the Ephrata Band Parents Association.

Goss says volunteers began arriving before 11 a.m., and worked past 11 p.m., in addition to countless hours spent before the event.

Goss says marching band teaches invaluable life skills.

“Students learn a strong sense of teamwork (from Marching Band),” Goss said. “ When we do music, we really learn something that develops a sense of perfection and excellence.

The Ephrata High School Marching Unit, as well as the Manheim Township unit, perform next at the J.P. McCaskey Showcase Finale, Saturday (Oct. 26) at 5 p.m.
Along with Ephrata, Hershey High School, Lancaster Catholic, Solanco, Lampeter-Strasburg, Owen J. Roberts, Manheim Township and of course McCaskey are expected to perform. According to Goss, the highlight will be a mass band finale when more than 1,000 students perform on the field at one time.

After wins by an L-S band members in 2017 and another from Manheim Township last year, Ephrata’s own Josiah Ebersole captured the ”Golden Dinkies’ honor as top marcher during this year’s showcase.

While the Showcase was going on at Ephrata, Marching Units from Warwick and Manheim Central were performing in a Cavalcade of Bands competition at the Eastern York High School.
Unlike the Lancaster County Coalition shows, Cavalcade shows are competitive, with student performers being given a numerical score according to execution and the difficulty of their programs. Warwick performs in the Liberty division, high school bands with 56-75 members while Manheim Central performs in the Patriot Division which is for bands with more than 100 members.
According to Assistant Director Eric Rothenberger the show went off without a hitch, including the recently introduced “flyover flag,” which produced a great crowd reaction as it covers the 75 member ensemble.

The band ended the night with their highest score of the season, an 86.9, which also happened to be the highest score by any Cavalcade band in their size classification this past weekend.

“At the end of the day, you can tell the students are really into the concept of this show by the way they are performing it right now. The smiles on the students’ faces as they exited the field after the performance showed they enjoyed it too,” stated Rothenberger.

Senior drumline member Braden Buckwalter, a six-year member of the ensemble, said about this year’s program, The Fire Within Us. “This is my favorite show in the six years I’ve been in marching band.”

Part of Ephrata’s drumline during last Saturday’s showcase at War Memorial Field. 

According to Rothenberger, the process to coordinate the motions and music for any marching band is difficult, one that requires a group effort, marching members, staff, and parents all in sync with one another. Competition bands rehearse up to 10 hours a week, while the Lancaster County Coalition bands rehearse somewhat less, with the intent of encouraging more participation.

Manheim Central also took first place in their division with a score of 80. Members of the Manheim Band Boosters echo statements of the other parents and band staff, saying marching band teaches students excellence, and the value of teamwork while bringing together a diversity of people and giving them a place to belong.

Next up for both Warwick and Manheim Central, is Manheim Central’s home competition this Saturday night. As with the Showcases at Ephrata, and Manheim Township, the show is a major fundraiser for the Manheim Central Band Boosters.

Mark Myers is a freelance journalist for The Ephrata Review. 

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