This year’s Newsday Marching Band Festival was cancelled, but not for Spartan Marchers. Why at Memorial JHS instead?
By Navrosedip Kundlas
Volume 2 Issue 2
November 19, 2021
Image provided by Newsday
It was October 17th, 2018, and the Valley Stream North High School Marching Band was excited to participate in the annual Newsday Marching Band Festival. However, they did not know it would be the last time any Spartan stepped onto the Mitchel Field Athletic Complex in Uniondale, New York. Now, many of you must be wondering why? Well, after a bunch of research, an answer was unraveled.
To begin with, what is the Newsday Marching Band Festival? The current Senior High Band teacher, Ms. Angelica Ansbacher, provides us with the following information, stating that “It is a festival that takes place at Hofstra University. At this festival, a variety of marching bands take the field. The festival occurs on a Tuesday in November every year.” An interesting thing I have learned while interviewing her is that she had taken part in the festival three times when she was in high school. Dr. Adam Erdos, the District Director of Fine and Performing Arts, says “It is the biggest event of its kind. Three nights of marching bands across Nassau and Suffolk counties performing at Mitchell Athletic Complex in Uniondale.” Now that we know what the Newsday Marching Band Festival is, it is time to see why the Spartans no longer attend.
First things first, no school in the Valley Stream Central High School District attends the festival anymore. Dr. Erdos has attended the festival as a chaperone/supervisor. Although the experience is unlike any other, he says there are some downsides. Dr. Erdos’s main criticism is the setup of the festival itself; “The participating bands do not actually get to really see or hear any of the other bands’ performances. In short, they hear little of the other bands and see even less.” He says the students gain something from the experience of travelling to and from the festival. However, some negative points overpower that positive. Besides the setup issue, the weather does not get along with the festival either. Sometimes it has been extremely cold, and light rain or snow is not uncommon either. Since the festival is outdoors, these factors contribute to the negatives of the event.
Ms. Ansbacher’s experience at the festival had been great. “It was a fun night on which I got to spend time with my band friends from school. Being that I was involved in extracurricular music groups, I saw my music friends from other schools as well. It was very interesting to see the other bands perform. We used to discuss other schools’ uniforms and their field shows.” Ms. Ansbacher says there are only two drawbacks: it was a long night, approximately 4 hours including travel time, and that it was often very cold. “My friends and I would bundle up under blankets and sweatshirts while we were waiting.”
Both Ms. Ansbacher and Dr. Erdos prefer the new VS District Festival to the Newsday Festival. “This allows our students to see each other’s shows, takes significantly less time than going to and from Mitchell Athletic Complex, and encourages -- or at least makes it easier for -- greater audience - parents, students, and the community at large - involvement and attendance at the event itself.”- Dr. E. “It is much more intimate being that our festival is for our community only. Since the Newsday Festival was a few hours long, very few parents/community members attended,” added Ms. Ansbacher.
It is time to see what a Spartan has to say about all of this. Jack Schwabe, a senior trumpet player, has been a part of the marching band since the 9th grade. Having participated himself in the Newsday festival, he says, “It’s a fun experience, getting to see what the other schools have been practicing and playing was a pleasant surprise.” This year, he reported he had fun at the District Marching Band Festival as well. Schwabe likes to hang out with his friends in the band and is disappointed that this is his last year.
All in all, it seems like moving to the District Marching Band Festival might have been for the better. Although Newsday is one of a kind, the District Festival outshines it in many ways. Schwabe said “Marching band is a little treat we all get to do every year. Playing good music with friends is always a fun experience, and I'm sad this is the last year I'll be experiencing it.” Ms. Ansbacher commented “My experience with the marching band at North so far has been exciting. I have loved working with the band. Our rehearsals, Saturday football game performances, and [the] District Festival were fun and successful. I look forward to the next marching season!” Dr. Erdos felt “It was great to hear the band playing in the stands and contributing to the atmosphere of the first home game of the season. The students sounded fantastic and Ms. Ansbacher’s direction was outstanding in every way, marking a great new beginning for the North Senior High Band.” Next year, try to check out the VSCHSD Marching Band Festival.