Fairfield High prepares for Tournament of Champions
Nick Perrando, 16, helps lead the Fairfield High School Marching Band through practice on Friday. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)
FAIRFIELD — The 40-degree weather, kicking winds and imminent rain weren’t nearly enough to stop 130 Fairfield High School students from marching Friday.
They marched and drummed, twirled and danced and blew against cold-induced flat tones as they strived for perfection in every routine.
Fairfield’s Scarlet Brigade Marching Band has been championing state-wide competitions all school year, but next weekend the band will face one of its toughest competitions yet.
Fairfield High School will play host to the 24th Annual Tournament of Champions, a premier band festival in Northern California, Saturday.
More than 40 middle- and high-school band programs from California will perform at Fairfield High in the categories of parade, concert band, jazz band and field show band.
The task for music director Brian Swetland is to ensure that all 130 students are not only playing flawless music but marching in perfectly diagonal or straight lines while in sync of one another.
While teaching more than 100 teenagers at once is “an acquired skill,” Swetland said he credits most of the students’ success to their work ethic.
“They’re like a family working together for the common good,” he said. “It brings out the best in them.”
The band has won almost every competition it’s entered, Swetland said.
While he encourages competitiveness, Swetland also wants the band members to perform with a smile.
The unity among band members will strengthen even further as the school transitions into a visual and performing arts school. While Fairfield High will remain a public high school, select students can take part in a special arts program, a “school within a school,” Swetland explained.
Performing and visual arts students will take an arts-tailored curriculum together. For example, if students are studying 1920s America in their history class, they would focus on the same era in their music and arts classes as well as their core classes such as music and science. The goal is to meld the arts and academic courses into one cohesive program.
“We want students to see the connection,” Swetland said.
While the seniors in marching band won’t get to participate in this program, they’re happy to leave the marching band with many wins and plenty of great memories.
“It’s bittersweet,” said band co-president Jacob Baker. “Band stresses a lot of family . . . We really are a close-knit family.”
The 24th Annual Tournament of Champions will run from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Fairfield High School, 205 E. Atlantic Ave.
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.
Heather Ah San
Heather Ah San covers Rio Vista, features and general news for the Daily Republic. She received her bachelors of art degree from the University of Oregon.