What better way to have a battle of the bands on Viking territory than to call its 11th annual field tournament, “Ragnarök,” which, according to Britannica, is the end of the world in Scandinavian mythology.
Terry Collier, Valencia High School booster board president, elaborated on the excitement the name has generated for attendees of Wednesday’s tournament.
“We’re ready to rock because we’re Vikings. At first, we were just calling it the ‘Valencia High Marching Band Field Tournament’ and we thought, ‘OK, that’s a little boring,’” Collier said.
“The kids came up with ‘Ragnarok’ and it’s really stuck. I mean, it sounds really beefy and so we really liked that.”
Performances by local bands included Canyon High School’s “Bent,” Valencia High School’s “Highway Hypnosis,” Golden Valley High School’s “Phoenix Rising,” and Castaic High School’s “The Throne.” Canyon placed first in the 2A division, while Golden Valley placed first in the 3A division, closely followed by Castaic, which placed second.
Valencia’s exhibition earned the band the highest point total of the night — but as the host band, its scores were not counted in the competition, which is standard practice for bands hosting competitions.
Golden Valley took sweepstakes in music performance and visual performance, while Canyon took sweepstakes in general effect, auxiliary and percussion.
Event attendees and presenters included: Andrea Rosenthal, district director for Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, Katherine Cooper, president of the Saugus Union School District governing board, Cherise Moore, school board member of the William S. Hart Union High School District, Mayor Jason Gibbs and Valencia Principal Pete Getz.
“We want people to come out because I think marching bands can be a mystery to some people. Take a moment and watch what they’re doing. It’s very hard to be able to play an instrument walking sideways — it’s pure talent. Or to throw a rifle in the air and catch it, is just amazing,” Collier said.
Wednesday’s event was a fundraiser for Valencia’s band, and all the funds raised will go toward instruments and other necessities for the program.
“Instruments get worn out, instruments break, we travel, we have props and things like that. Our program is funded by fundraising. So, these sorts of shows are very, very important,” Collier said.
Anthony Michaelides, a parent volunteer, has assisted the program for seven years as both of his daughters, Isabel and Abby, have been a part of the band.
“There are a lot of different pieces, a lot of different parts of the campus to put a big event together like this, from concessions, to hospitality, to operations, to logistics, and then of course the bands and the fans that come in to cheer for them. It’s fun, it’s hard work, but it’s worth it for the kids,” Michaelides said.
Michaelides’ younger daughter, Abby, is a senior, indirectly encouraging Michaelides to be more involved in her final year of Valencia band.
“This year I got more involved in terms of organizing and doing a lot bigger of a lift. I think we step up and do what we need to do for our kids — that’s what it’s all about,” Michaelides said. “We do everything from towing trailers and putting together props, building things, moving things around, but making sure that everyone is comfortable, happy and has what they need.”
Michaelides was happy regarding the turnout and the hard work Valencia put on this school year.
“We’re happy for everyone who made it because they got entertained by all the bands and all our hospitality here at Valencia High School,” Michaelides said.
Golden Valley Band Director Angel Nazario reflected on his first fall competitive season.
“It’s been a fantastic journey so far. We’ve been trying to push and make championships next week. But if the season had to end today, I think the students have done a fantastic job with the tasks that I have given them,” Nazario said. “They’ve taken tremendous strides towards becoming better leaders, not only at Golden Valley, but in the community. I’ve had a blast, and it’s been a blessing to be able to be in front of these students.”
Nazario, who comes from a military background, described his technique with the students as being hands-off.
“I give them the tasks and I trust that they’re going to do it, but at the end of the day, I verify that they’re going to do it. And that’s something that’s really common in the military, so I’m trying to let them take ownership of the product that they’re putting out there,” Nazario said.
Nazario has been proud of Golden Valley’s self-sufficient and positive attitude, even when he had to take absences during the semester.
“The students have been fantastic that when I’m not in the classroom — there are student leaders and the ensemble as a whole who have still been able to have very productive and strong rehearsals without me there,” Nazario said. “So that’s something that I’m extremely proud of, and I think all the students should be as well.”
Golden Valley Color Guard Director Julianne Kassidy discussed the role that COVID-19 has played, and how the students have been more driven, despite the many obstacles.
“I’ve been at Golden Valley since 2018 — the same year I graduated. This is actually my alma mater … I took over as the director in December,” Kassidy said. “This year there is a whole different generation at play, not just here, but in the marching band community. This new generation, post-COVID, is a lot more invigorated than I’ve ever seen before. It’s like they know what it’s like to not have access to the arts and not be able to go out and compete in front of people. So they’re a lot more driven and hungry about it.”
Kassidy has seen the growth in the students, as they have committed fully to what they’re being taught to do.
“My favorite thing that I’ve gotten to see in them, especially this group of kids, is the self-actualization. But the idea of buy-in has been big, especially since Mr. Nazario just took over as director,” Kassidy said. “These kids hold themselves very accountable for punctuality, what they look like, how they talk, how they present themselves in the stand.”
Kassidy is excited for next weekend’s Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association championships, and for the students to celebrate months of hard work.
“I can’t wait to see these kids see it all come to fruition. I’m excited to see them be excited for themselves,” Kassidy said.