When the third place winner in the Cavalcade of Bands Independence A Class Division was announced following performances by 12 high school marching bands at West Chester University on Nov. 7, Cecelia Mezza and Brian Yealy were already embracing.
The marching band directors from York Catholic and Delone Catholic high schools, respectively, knew their bands had just captured the top two spots in the coveted tournament.
York Catholic, with an overall score of 89.35, earned first place in the Grand Championship, also winning awards for High Music and High Overall Effect.
“It was amazing! All of the students worked so hard and performed their best,” said Mezza, Choral, Instrumental and General Music Director at York Catholic. “Brian and I were standing on the sidelines together. When we realized our bands were either first or second, we were already hugging.”
York Catholic’s show this season was “A Storm at Sea,” with selections that reflect a sea-going adventure, a storm that tosses shipmates overboard, and calming waters that culminate with “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
After York Catholic’s drum majors Moses Krueger and Mason Kovach and color guard captions Susie Konstans and Bethany Weaver accepted the championship award, they were congratulated and embraced by the Delone band.
“This experience was so special because we were together. Brian and I have been friends for years and I hold him in the highest regard. He has so much experience and knowledge and I look to him as a mentor. We are so happy for both schools,” Mezza said.
“Marching band is so different from many things,” she said. “Band members cheer for each other all the time. We want to see a great show from every band and we applaud everyone. This was made even more special since we are programs that work together as friends.”
Delone finished second with a score of 86.25, their highest of the season, and also captured the Tony Ferriola Best Visual Performance Award.
The 2019 season was a rebuilding year for the Delone Band, having recently graduated a large senior class. That left the band with 26 members – four juniors and seniors, and eight of whom were sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Four of the instrumentalists learned to play a new instrument over the summer to help cover all the important parts and balance out the sound for the 2019 field show, “Mangione Magic: The Music of Chuck Mangione.”
According to Yealy, now serving in his 36th year as Delone’s band director, “The Delone Band’s success this season can be directly traced to the dedication, hard work and persistence of the students, along with the tremendous help and support of the band staff and parents. We would also like to acknowledge York Catholic for winning the Independence A Class Championship this year and thank the YC students and staff for their friendship and camaraderie throughout the season.”
Austin Stiles, Delone’s band president, reflected, “It was one of our more difficult seasons, but the band worked together and pushed through to the very end.” Drum major Emily Kiger, added, “Our experience at Championships is a testament to the truly incredible group of people that I have been blessed to work with over the marching season, as well as the wonderful family and friends we have to support us. The perseverance, dedication, and sheer amount of effort we have put in have yielded an amazing end to the season, and I could not be more thankful.”
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness