Jackson Memorial High School to host marching band competition

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JACKSON — The Jackson Memorial High School Jaguar Marching Band will host the
“Showcase of Champions!” marching band competition on Oct. 23, three weeks
after the event was sidetracked by a hurricane.

The event, which had been scheduled for Oct. 1, was postponed due to the arrival in New Jersey of remnants of Hurricane Ian.

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The Oct. 23 event will feature seven marching bands in addition to the JMHS band and will take place beginning at 1 p.m. on Jack Munley Field at Jackson Memorial High School, 101 Don Connor Blvd. The Jaguar Marching Band will perform at 3:15 p.m.

Jackson Memorial will welcome bands from Long Branch High School, Allentown High School, Hamilton High School, Hightstown High School, Bordentown High School, Nottingham High School and Glen Ridge High School.

The Jaguar Marching Band will perform an exhibition of its original show, “La Fiesta Brava!”

General admission to the event is $15 for adults, $10 for children in grades K-12, and free for children age 4 and under.

A $25 package includes one admission ticket, six basket raffle tickets, a beverage coupon and a printed program.

Parking will be available in the student parking lot. The event will include food vendors, a 50/50 raffle and a gift basket auction.

Jason Diaz, director of bands, said rescheduling the event has been a challenge.

“It involves our own students, all of the participating bands’ schedules, campus security, the grounds crew, the custodial staff and making sure the athletic teams are not going to be using the field.

“We initially had 12 schools signed up, but because the date was moved we are only going to have seven (plus JMHS) due to a multitude of different factors, but seven committed and we are hoping to make the best of a changing situation,” he said.

Diaz explained the theme for the Jaguar band, saying, “The band has 76 musicians in our ensemble this year. The theme is ‘La Fiesta Brava,’ we are actually building it around a bullfight.

“The first movement incorporates a matador coming out, presenting him or herself to the stadium. There is lots of pomp and circumstance. Our second movement revolves around the rite.

“Before the bullfight starts the matador recites a prayer and it is a real nice contrast to the first movement and then our third movement is literally a bullfight.”

“Our show is paced in three different sections so it’s three different ideas and we kind of break them into movements,” Diaz explained.

The band director said creating the marching band’s fall show takes months of effort and generally begins in March.

The planning process includes figuring out “who our strong players are going to be, who our soloists are going to be … there are a lot of different factors that work into this and all
of those get encompassed into what our show is going to look and sound like that
guides the choice of a theme.”

According to Diaz, there is no shortage of students interested in being members of
the marching band and he credits that enthusiasm to the middle school program.

“A lot of that is due to the middle school, they have done a really nice job of supporting
our program … We also have the support of our school district and our band parents
association.

“Our school district is a huge supporter of the arts and really supports us going out (to perform) every single weekend,” Diaz said, adding that Jackson’s marching band tradition transcends several generations.

“The process we have now is the same process we had when I was in high school. That is why everybody can relate. A lot of it is that in the music world it’s almost like a safe space for students.

“Students can come down to the band room whenever they want. If they need just to take a breath they use that space, they have a community here and I think that’s the overarching piece.

“That’s why I went into music, that’s why I became a band director, because I know
that community is there and I try to instill that community into my program, where
they are going to have lifelong friends here, they are going to have lifelong stories.

“I still talk to some of those people from 15 years ago. That is the reason I keep
coming back; that connection we all have, that common element – music.

“There are some times when we have spent more time together than we do with our
families and I can say that in the fall I spend more time at Memorial than I do at home.
Again, we build those family bonds,” Diaz said.

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