By JENNIFER MEIER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
NAPPANEE — Last year’s marching band show took the NorthWood Red Regiment all the way to a sixth place finish at ISSMA State Finals.
And that has this year’s band and color guard members all fired up.
“Last year was the first year we’ve made it to finals in four years,” said Band Director Eric Criss. “So for a good majority of the band, it was their first experience at the state finals.”
And that taste of success is driving the band to work hard during the preseason.
“I think that they have a better understanding of why we do these crazy rehearsals in the summer,” Criss said. “They are energized and taking it seriously.”
And cooler temperatures have certainly helped make typically uncomfortable practices on the hot blacktop very tolerable.
“Weather-wise this has been the easiest band camp I’ve ever had,” Criss said.
The difficulty lies in this year’s music and drill.
“Our show designer and drill writer Jack Pursifull did a 180 from last year,” Criss said. “So we are kind of excited about that.”
Last year’s show, “Sunday in The Park” is in stark contrast to this year’s “Tenebris Nocte (Dark Night).”
“The music last season was lighthearted. In Dark Night things are a little more serious, a little more dark and dramatic and from a stylist standpoint, a complete opposite,” Criss said.
The Red Regiment graduated 14 seniors last year, but welcomed in 17 freshmen.
“Last year we had a bumper year in terms of growth,” Criss said. “And this year, not as much, but we are still growing.”
For the first time in Criss’ five years as director of bands at NorthWood, the marching band will head to BOA Super Regionals in Indianapolis on Nov. 8-9.
“Before I came here the band went to a similar competition and did very well,” Criss said. “But this will be the first BOA Super Regional for us. It’s a new experience for all of us.”
Criss said he chose to enter the competition to gain additional experience late in the season.
“I think the kids are up to it,” Criss said. “I don’t know if they will run away with the top honors, but I know they will hold their own.”
So far Criss said the band is well on its way to a winning season.
“They are doing extremely well,” Criss said. “We were working detail during the summer that we weren’t ready to address last year until the first or second week of school. These kids are absorbing things very quickly.”