by Sophie Torres ('27)
After a long day for the South Brunswick Viking Marching Band—one that was followed by a grand celebration—they won a first-place victory at the Ludwig-Musser Classic Competition in Metlife Stadium. The band gave a phenomenal performance on October 7 at 10:45 PM. It would have been assumed that they would be struggling with exhaustion due to the freezing weather that night, but instead, it was quite the opposite. A mixture of adrenaline and determination to perform one of the best shows of the season gave the band a purposeful energy.
There were many remarkable bands that day, but in the end, it came down to two: South Brunswick High School and their long-time rival, North Penn High School.
Finally, the South Brunswick High School Marching Band heard the winning score being called on the stadium’s loudspeaker: “And in first place, with 81.60 points, that is 81.6 points… South Brunswick High School Marching Band!”
Finally, as the night was starting to seep into the early morning of Sunday, October 8, the South Brunswick Viking Marching Band triumphed with the “Best Color Guard” trophy, “Best Visual” trophy, and First Place trophy over their heads.
The South Brunswick Viking Marching Band (SBVMB) has prepared their show—Purification—since June. The SBVMB is led by their directors, Mr. TJ Brungard and Mr. Joshua Oldham, next to the drum majors, seniors Ved Lakshminarayanan, Brian Colquist, and Ashwina Agarwal. The theme of the band’s show is to symbolize the marvelous wonders of the earth’s oceans, and the underlying dangers of pollution if people continue to destroy it.
The “Best Color Guard” trophy especially was held in very high regard by the SBHS band. SBVMB’s color guard director Ms. Lorin Acure describes how the color guard’s role on the field contributes to the performance:
“The color guard has worked really, really hard, and they came out and had a fantastic show! What was really, really special about MetLife for the color guard is that was when they started to put a performance factor into their choreography. I saw the heads come up, the shoulders go back, the chests open up, and that really puts a little something special into their performance,” she said.
On another note, the “Best Visual” trophy was awarded by USBands as a way to congratulate the beauty of the props which were hand-painted to depict the ocean.
The Ludwig-Musser Classic is a competition for skilled, accomplished, and experienced high school marching bands, and it is easy to say that the SBHS Marching Band qualifies for all of these.
This is not the first time the band has accomplished an important achievement. From 2013 up till last year, 2022, the band has remained the first-place champion of the New Jersey State Championships. From 2013 to 2016, they have also won second place in the US Bands National Championship. During 2014, the marching band was invited to the Super Bowl XLVIII Pregame and Halftime to assist on the field, and this year the band was invited to perform for the halftime show of the first ever Black Friday NFL game, Jets vs. Dolphins.
Freshman flutist, Siri Tarigopula, spoke of her reaction to the first-place victory.
She said, “I felt so happy! There was this warmness inside of me, and I couldn’t describe the feeling because you wouldn’t know if you weren’t there. It was awesome! You know, we weren’t expecting first place. We went in there expecting last place, but we got first place, which was really shocking to a lot of us, and so many of us cried.”
On the other side of the marching band spectrum, senior drum major and bass clarinetist, Ashwina Agarwal, also emphasized her emotions as she and the other drum majors were handed the trophy.
She said, “It was crazy! I was literally crying. It was the first win of the SBVMB at a recognized level in such a long time… I stayed kind of professional, but I was literally losing it. When we got back to the whole band… we were so proud… I was crying, I was just so proud of everyone. I’m glad the way the season turned out.”
Senior baritone saxophonist, Chase Yetter, explained his honest thoughts on how the band improved and changed versus last year. He believed it was important to think highly of the future of SBVMB, and many other senior marching band musicians shared the same opinion.
Yetter commented on the victory, saying, “After last year’s loss where we placed fifth out of five, it was a good way to come back in this season and prove that we were not the band last year. Some people left that needed to go, some people joined that made it greater… I like the direction the band is going. I can only see it getting better from here.”
The results of that night proved themselves. South Brunswick had known the value of timely commitment and pride in their music, but now it had been established in their work. The South Brunswick Viking Marching Band came home, satisfied with their work.