Topper Marching Band Places Third in Class AA
Hilltopper Band Booster Karen Mehlin cheers for the LAHS Marching Band at the Zia Band Fiesta Saturday at University Stadium. Courtesy photo
By Maire O'neill
The Los Alamos High School Hilltopper Marching Band's program "Russian Music" earned them third place in Class AA preliminaries of the Zia Marching Band Fiesta at University Stadium in Albuquerque Saturday.
Drum majors Nate Hall and Daniel Dahl conducted the repertoire which features "Pictures at An Exhibition" by Mussorgsky, "Vocalise" by Rachmaninoff and "The Firebird" by Stravinsky.
Soloists were Todd Zollinger, Daniel Dunning, and Aaron Bao (trumpets), Brandon Cullinan and Justine Dombrowski (mellophones), Becky Mehlin (trombone), Sally Grindstaff (baritone) and Angelique Castillo (color guard).
Director Zane Meek said Monday that this was definitely the band's best performance of the year and that they had "peaked at just the right time."
"This is the strongest field of Zia I've ever seen," Meek said. "The judges had a very difficult task in trying to accurately score each group. There were some very good bands with good shows that didn't make the finals. For our part, we will take the comments from the judges and use them to get better".
Meek said he is very proud of what the band accomplished this year, adding that the Hilltoppers have to do in four hours a week what others do in eight to 12. He said that despite some big last-minute changes with personnel and design elements, the band had "pulled it together nicely".
"Lots of these kids work around some challenging schedules, we have adverse weather, and things can get crazy, but they just keep going", Meek said. "Some of them put in lots of hours on their own and it's just great to see them take such ownership of the show and such pride in their performance".
Meek said the parents have been amazing and that he can't thank them enough for everything they do for him and for the band.
"Marching band is one of those things that just doesn't happen without a lot of support from families," he said.
Meek said he is looking forward to the rest of the school year, working on the things the judges asked them to work on musically ad putting on some really good concerts.
"Making great music is what it's really about," he said.
Some 32 bands from throughout New Mexico and as well as Texas and Colorado competed in the event. Hilltopper band members particularly enjoyed an exhibition at the end of the preliminary competition by the University of New Mexico Spirit Marching Band which featured LAHS alumni Alex Austell's trumpet solo.