LINWOOD — Members of the Mainland Marching Band were strutting their stuff and waving their flags at a special preview show for family and friends Thursday, Aug. 19 at the school. The event marked the end of several grueling weeks of practice and band camp that include 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. practices.
The band graduated a large contingent in June and is smaller than previous years with 38 members, including 27 musicians and 11 members of the color guard. But what they may lack in numbers, they make up for with enthusiasm. Band Director Jon Ratcliffe called the band the hardest working team at Mainland Regional High School, noting the hours the students put in over the summer to be prepared to hit the field with a great show with the very first halftime show.
The drum major duties will be shared this year. Taking the baton for portions of the performance are Nova Driver, of Somers Point, and Dana Spector, of Northfield, both seniors. The conducting duo agrees they are more excited to get the season started than they are nervous.
Ratcliffe said it was hard recruiting new members during the pandemic and the number of members has varied but added, “The kids were great with all the protocols and safety requirements since day one.” The director was excited about the prospect of returning to live competition this season since it was canceled last year. “We are thrilled to be back in live competition this year in Tournament of Bands with two special shows in the USBands circuit, including a show at MetLife Stadium. The first competition is Saturday, Sept. 18.
The band performed two of the movements from their show for this year, titled “Erebus-Lux.” As Ratcliffe explained to the more than 100 that gathered to see and hear the new program, “Lux comes from Latin meaning light and Erebus comes from Greek, meaning darkness. This is a fitting piece, about coming from the darkness of the past 18 months. Erebus-Lux means something different to everyone. During the pandemic, people and the world experienced their own darkness and had to find ways to fight it. As long as there is hope and a belief in oneself, there’s always a way out of our darkness. It is a custom show featuring music from “The Avengers,” “Endgame,” “Avatar,” “Hercules,” “Star Wars,” and “The Lion King.”
This year, the band has a great staff, according to Ratcliffe. Returning from the Mainland Mustang Marching Band championship season two years ago is assistant directors Shanea Carr and Maria Forte, color guard instructor Ellen Appleton and drumline tech Charlie Dreher. New to the staff this season is woodwind instructor Samson Gutwirth, drumline instructor Jason Crafts, brass instructor Tim Rosie and pit instructor Jim Glenn.