A tradition on excellence
– Southgate Star
The tradition of excellence continues for the Southgate Anderson High School Marching Band.
The band captured best in show at Wyandotte Roosevelt’s Downriver Fanfare Oct. 1 in an 11-band competition and won for best music and best percussion earlier this fall at St. Clair Shores Lakeview High School.
The wins came under the leadership of Marching Band Director Brendan Walter and Assistant Band Director Zachary Novicki, who have been running things since 2017 and continuing the legacy of longtime Band Director Jim Skura.
“It’s been super great,” said Novicki, who joined the staff in 2015 and became one of the directors in 2017. “One of our biggest philosophies is to use music to create better people. We use band to teach life skills these kids are going to have to use when they graduate. That philosophy has led to success on the field.”
Southgate Anderson finished third a few years back in state-level completion and in eighth place last year.
“We’re hoping to keep building on that success,” Novicki said.
One of this year’s wins, at the Lake Orion Dragon Invitational earlier this fall, was somewhat unexpected; it featured 11 bands, two in Southgate Anderson’s flight (band size).
“We weren’t expecting to win,” Novicki said. “We were penalized even though we were a little under time, and ended up winning best visuals, best music and best general effects.”
He said the timing issue arose because the band cut seven minutes out of its show for competition season.
This year’s show is called “Circle of Balance,” which features representations of the different elements of nature. Woodwinds begin the set, symbolizing trees, leading into fire, brought to life by drums. Fire creates Earth, which bears metal, featuring the percussion instruments.
“Then everyone kind of rocks out at the end,” Novicki said.
The metal portion of the show contains water and coral, represented by blue flags to create the backdrop, before completing the full circle back to wood. Wind instruments play as the water moves.
“It even pulls in feng shui,” Novicki said. “It’s deeper than we usually go.”
All of the music the band plays is original, and the show is mapped out at the beginning of each year by the directors and music writer Nick Pourcho. Novicki said music writing has become increasingly important in recent years because of copyright issues, but that the band hasn’t missed a beat.
“We have an excellent music writer,” he said. “That way we don’t have to worry about paying anyone else for songs.”
The philosophy of creating better people through music has worked out well so far in 2019.
“Everyone wants to work really hard,” Novicki said. “Some bands are all out to win, but that doesn’t always create the most positive culture.
“But we had 70 members last year (and) 83 this year, and it’s been a great year. People have really embraced the culture.”
“People” includes the Southgate community, as a number of businesses have offered to sponsor the band program. Their names have appeared on their back of band T-shirts, and Granader Family Restaurants donated $1,000 to the band and invited it to play at their Fort Street McDonalds location. The band also played at the Grecian Center for this year’s Greekfest.
One member’s employer even donated prop materials, and parents have been sewing flags almost every day since the band got back from band camp.
“The support from them has been incredible and keeps us going,” Novicki said.