by Ammie Bryant
As the full moon rose to cast its golden shine over Pioneer Stadium on Friday the 13th for Stillwater’s first home game in 2019, the 41 to 0 score revealed the Pioneers’ domination at the half. There was a different number in the band members’ minds. A count of “Eighty-Eight” resonated with each of the 157 musicians as they prepared to march onto the field.
“Eighty-Eight” is the theme of the Pioneer Marching Band’s show, referencing the keys on a piano. Each of the musical selections in the show originally featured the piano. “We opened with ‘Chopsticks,’ then Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man,’” explained Stillwater Schools Director of Bands Kevin Zamborsky. “Part 2 is Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise,’ Rachmaninoff’s ‘Prelude in G Minor,’ Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ and Liszt’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.’ Part 3 is Elton John’s ‘Your Song,’ Rachmaninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme Paganini,’ and Debussy’s ‘Claire de lune.’ Part 4 is ‘The Entertainer’ by Scott Joplin, Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Linus and Lucy’ from Peanuts, and George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’”
For an organization whose motto is “Everyone Counts,” the first show performance is an opportunity for every student to see the fruits of their labors. Their work began back in July with full-day rehearsals long before the first day of school in mid-August. “The first performance is always exciting because it’s that moment where our new members realize why we’ve been working so hard,” said Zamborsky. “It’s also exciting for me personally because it’s the first time we get to put our production in front of an audience and can gauge their reaction.”
Over the next several weeks the band will continue to refine the show in preparation for their first marching contest of the season on Sat., Sept. 28, at the Owasso Invitational Marching Contest. “As enjoyable as that first performance [was], the first contest is even more rewarding. We’re playing for an audience that is there to watch marching bands and has a deeper understanding of the challenges of our performance,” said Zamborsky. “It’s also great to get feedback from judges who are evaluating our students so that we can relay that to our students to help them improve.” The hard work does not end with the Owasso Invitational though. The band will continue to add to and make adjustments to their show, fine tuning it with daily rehearsals that begin shortly after 7 a.m., two hours before school officially begins with the first bell of the day. The contest in Owasso will be the first of five contests that the band will compete at this fall. At each contest, bands are judged on music performance, visual performance, and general effect.
As a final thought about the upcoming contest, Zamborsky said, “Owasso is always a great contest. Stillwater has attended that show every year that Owasso has held it, and it’s a lot of fun – especially the finale! The bands mass onto the field in blocks while the combined drum lines from each school play the Owasso cadence. It’s a memory our students and parents all really enjoy.”
The next opportunity for the community to see the band perform “Eighty-Eight” at Pioneer Stadium will be on Fri., Sept. 27 when the Pioneers play Deer Creek for Homecoming.