The Performance of a Lifetime


“The performance is an exhilarating experience and it can definitely be the performance of a lifetime as it definitely was for us.”


Those are the words of Ridge’s very own band director, Aaron Vogel;  a reflection of a recent incredible achievement that can indeed be considered ‘the performance of a lifetime.’ Just a few weeks ago, the Mountain Ridge Pride of the West Marching Band took home the title of state champions, after receiving the highest score in Mountain Ridge history.



“It has been a magical year,” stated Vogel. “The hard work and dedication of the students from day one truly paid off throughout the entire season. The band performed with high excellence in every event they’ve attended. I am very proud of the incredible work the students put in this year.”


The 2019 show, titled “Out of the Blue,” demonstrates the life and actions of a single person, portrayed through a soprano sax soloist, junior, Darryl Leung. The show included music selections from Rhapsody in Blue, Bright Blue Music, Blue Skies, Blue Rondo A La Turk, Blue Danube, and various others.


The music follows his daily life such as working at a job that lacks in taste and emotion, the business of city life, and the sorrow of loneliness. The show begins with a wake up scene, in which the lonely main character is followed by relaxing and lazy music. Once he realizes that he is late for work, the tempo of the music increases, and becomes more rushed and lively.


This exciting music follows the character as he journeys throughout the city to his job. Upon his arrival, he is accompanied by outstanding props, such as an office scene, and the entire ensemble acts as a call center through choreography. It becomes evident that the character is very unhappy in his line of work through the music played by the band. He then decides to escape his tasteless and emotionless profession by quitting his job. Upon his resignation, he wonders to a calmer scene of a park. In the park, he meets another person, and is then able to rediscover the excitement of life that he has lost. Within this rainy scene, the ensemble forms a giant umbrella on the field, with the help of the color guard. As the two enjoy the nightlife, the scene and the tone of the music is once again very vibrant and exciting, filled with energy. The show ends much happier and less lonely than the beginning.


“I am just so proud of all the students and their high level of effort and commitment to making the show as amazing as it was. It is this hard work that contributed towards the score, and it definitely paid off this year. The score isn’t the most important aspect of the show; scores are subjective and change based on judges and associations,” Vogel states. “What makes this activity so difficult also is that different shows cannot be truly compared like other sports can. All shows are very unique and have their nuances and aspects that play differently to the audience.”


Leading up to the Championships, the band participated in 7 competitions and had rehearsals every week. Throughout these rehearsals, band remained devoted to the cause through their common sayings and goals of: “Excellence Everywhere” and “CANEI, Constant And Never Ending Improvement.” With goals like these in place, the band was destined for greatness.


There were many events that led up to where the band is now. According to Jaiden Singh, drum major, they had placed first at the AzMBA State Championship and second in semifinals of the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association. They also competed in the national circuit of the Band of America Regional Championship Finals at NAU, for the first time ever. Here they competed against bands from Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. They placed 5th overall, and 2nd in the state of Arizona. The band has worked extremely hard for these various achievements, devoting 6-9 hours per week, in addition to the band class and student-led sectionals to their rehearsals.


“Both in performance and at rehearsals, we encourage strong focus to achieve the goals at hand, but also high energy, which is part of what makes marching band so much more fun to be apart of,” stated Singh.


The championships included the 32 highest scoring bands, with 8 total bands per division. This final event began with the lower divisions and ended with the higher ones. Vogel described that there were over 10,000 people who attended the championships and that the stands were the fullest during the D1 performances. Before performing there, the band did both a visual and a music warm-up and gathered their props for the show.


“Leading up to a performance I am always very excited and energized, as many of the students are, and try to remain very calm, but I would be lying if I never felt anxious, especially at championship events,” Singh reflected. “During the show, I am truly solely focused on performing with high energy and accuracy.”


With their incredible performance, the band took home a score of 96.941 (out of 100), and the title of the highest scoring band in the history of the ABODA State Marching Band Championships. This also marked the first ever state championship for the program. The Ridge band was also scored the highest in the areas of Music, Visual, Auxiliary, and General Effect. The band consists of around 180 dedicated students all placed in the Division 1 category, the highest ranking division.


“Aside from the placement, I am so, so proud of everyone for their commitment to our program this year,” stated Singh. “Their drive, excellence, and working their butts off has paid off on our amazing score, but also in the emotions that we felt and conveyed to the audience in what was certainly the best performance in my four years here at Ridge.”


Vogel would like to recognize a few key students in this amazing process. These individuals include Junior Drum Majors Lauren Aoyama and Tony Ruan and Senior Drum Majors Jenifer Littlepage and Jaiden Singh, Guard Captains Brinley O’Camb and Claire Wells and the Saxophone soloist/Section Leader Darryl Leung. He would also like to thank the 2019 Band Leadership Team consisting of Section Leaders Maddie Young-Cruz and Alexis Jacaruso (Flute), Jimmy Pinzon and Bella Pelegrino (Clarinet), Darryl Leung, Carly Borgrebbe, and Max Strong (Saxophone), Jackson Ourada (Bass Clarinet), Brandy Anderson (Mellophone), Chris Scrivens and Bryan Myers (Trumpet), Meredith Nicholls, Violet Peterson, and Drake Zinn (Low Brass), Evrim Gulser (Tuba), Shannen Greenlee and Elisabeth Minker (Guard), Mason Best (Drumline), and Braedon Behnke (Front Ensemble) for all of their work.


“I am so absolutely grateful to every staff member, the directors, my friends, my fellow band leadership team members, and the drum majors past and present for inspiring me to be the best I can be, and for instilling in us as an ensemble the importance of mutual support and appreciation for each other,” stated Singh.


The band earned Ridge 5 trophies in total, consisting of the first place win and the caption awards they won. Each member of the band will also receive championship medals for all their hard work this season. The State Championships mark the end of the marching season until next fall. However, the band program still continues, splitting into 3 concert bands that will compete in concerts with schools statewide. In the past, there has been a record of excellence in performances, so great things can further be expected.


If you would like to come hear our amazing band perform or offer your support, you can visit their concerts throughout the remainder of the school year. The first will be the Pance Breakfast on December 7th from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. The Winter Concert will be held on December 10th at 7 p.m. in the Ridge auditorium.


Ridge is beyond proud of our marching band, guard, and the directors for their amazing work this season. Make sure you  stop by one of their performances to witness their amazing talent. Your support is always accepted and encouraged by everyone in the band program.


Jaiden Singh (senior drum major): “I, along with this years senior class, are thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to grow, and for the commitment by every member to make this season the best! We can’t wait to see where this band goes in the future…My experience in the band has made me realize and appreciate the power that one can have when part of a group. I’ve also learned what it takes to be a leader in such a large group of like-minded, yet diverse individuals all working towards a common goal! I am so excited for what the rest of this year will bring with such an amazing group of members.”

Jenifer Littlepage (senior drum major): “Out of all four years this season was by far the most memorable for me. It  was such an amazing feeling to get first at superstate and see all of our long hours and hard work paid off! The roar from the crowd when we finished our performance brought me to tears and is a moment I will truly never forget. I’m definitely going to miss marching band next year, but I’ll never forget all the great memories I’ve made from it.”

Allyson Ritter (freshman): “I guess this year was just really magical, when I first joined I had no idea it would be like this, or that I’d be crying now that it’s over. First place was even crazier to get, especially being a freshman and all. Honestly it was all thanks to the directors and older students for helping us survive, they’re just the best.”

Darryl Leung (junior): “Getting first in State Finals was a dream come true, nobody was expecting it and nobody believed it at first. It was a shock for everyone.”

Bella Pellegrino (senior): “Getting first place this year was something I thought would never happen and when they announced us, at first we all just started crying and hugging everyone. It was such a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

Hannah Reddington (senior): “This season has been the most memorable yet! I have so many unforgettable memories from our away competitions to our award winning performances! I am so proud of our band and all the hard work we all contributed.”