The opportunity to host its own marching band competition through the USBands organization came to be for the Bordentown Regional High School Marching Band and Director of Bands Michael Montalto on Sept. 18 in Bordentown.
Bordentown’s inaugural “Bandemonium” competition had 10 high school marching bands from around New Jersey including the Scotties – who performed twice at the event – participate in the festivities.
An event that was originally planned to go on last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, went on “perfectly,” said Montalto.
“It was a great event,” Montalto said. “We had great weather. I was really proud of our students. They performed really well and did a good job representing the community. It was a good day for our school and the community.”
Linden, Delran, Nottingham, Lenape Regional, Burlington City, South Hunterdon, Hightstown, Robbinsville and Seneca high schools participated in the competition that was broken up into two groups.
Bordentown performed in both groups with a first-place winner being voted on by a panel of judges authorized from the USBands circuit.
Delran won Group 1 and Seneca placed first in Group 2.
Montalto said that this competition was more about giving the marching bands an opportunity to perform and get a critique from judges as they prepare for bigger competitions this fall.
An important thing Montalto noted, too, was that a lot of high school marching bands didn’t get a chance to perform at all last fall due to COVID-19 and that many of the students in each marching band were performing for the very first time.
“I was happy to see the bands back on the field performing again,” he said. “A lot of schools did nothing last year. Most have two new groups of rookies in their band. It was good to give them an environment to learn and gain experience performing on the field.”
Being able to host an event through the USBands organization has been something that Montalto has looked into the last few years.
When he became the band director at Bordentown 11 years ago, the Scotties had only 18 students participating in the marching band.
That has certainly changed now, with Montalto saying his marching band has around 50 members and also a great parents booster club that supports the band.
The growth of the program has been shown through the success the Marching Scotties have had over the last few years, including placing third at the USBands Class A National Championships in 2019.
In that same competition, Bordentown finished in first place for the Music Caption award.
All that success and growth by his Marching Scotties prompted Montalto to seek approval from the Bordentown Regional School District to host a band competition, which was happily accepted, he said.
Bordentown Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Trudy Atkins spoke at the competition and Montalto said the school district was very supportive in helping make the event happen.
Parents and alumni of the Marching Scotties also came out to assist with the event. Montalto said more than 30 parents and alumni volunteered during the competition, which also included current Bordentown marching band members helping out in various ways before they performed.
“To host an event like this is very special,” Montalto said. “The school and the entire community supported us. The kids stepped up to the plate and did a good job helping the event go off. They had a lot of responsibility on them and they executed it very well.”
Since the inaugural Bordentown Bandemonium, Montalto said he has gotten “positive feedback” from folks and said the opportunity to host a competition next year is “on the table”.
Making the Bordentown Bandemonium an annual event is something Montalto feels would be great not just for the high school’s music department, but also for the school district and the Bordentown community.
“It’s another feather in our cap in the music department and a great thing for the school and the community,” Montalto said. “Hopefully we do it better next year.”