Shaler Area performs at 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival |

Shaler Area performs at 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival

Shaler Area’s Marching Band took part in the 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Shaler Area’s Marching Band at the 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Shaler Area prepares to perform at the 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Shaler Area Drum Majors Michael LaBella and Emily Ehrenberger practice before performing at the 34th Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at North Allegheny Senior High School.

Nearly 2,500 fans flocked into North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium, starting an hour and a half before start time. While some lingered in the parking lot to tailgate, others rushed toward the field to buy their tickets and secure a seat as close to the 50-yard line as they could get.

These die-hard fans were not coming to watch a highly contested football game against an arch rival. They were swarming to see the halftime show.

North Allegheny hosted the 34th annual Allegheny Valley Marching Band Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, in which 1,231 student musicians from seven local high school bands — North Hills, Pine-Richland, Shaler Area, Hampton, Riverview, Northgate, and North Allegheny — performed their 2018 halftime shows.

“This festival is one of my favorites. It not only showcases all the talented students and directors from the Allegheny Valley, but brings together thousands of people to celebrate and support our fellow musicians and band members in the surrounding schools,” said George Tepshich, Director of the Shaler Area High School Marching Band.

Todd Stefan, NA’s band director and host of this year’s festival, agreed.

“I love seeing all the bands perform. We have such a wide variety of bands in the Allegheny Valley. It’s great for all the students to see and appreciate the different styles and kinds of marching band music,” he said. “Seeing the smiles on our kids’ faces is always the highlight of the evening for me.”

The bands, ranging in size from 31 members to 256, boasted their own unique style of rousing music, intricate drill, and colorful pageantry.

The Hampton High School Marching Band rolled a grand piano onto the field, along with a dance floor and an illuminated street lamp for its show, “City of Stars,” which featured music and dance routines from the 2016 musical film, “La La Land.”

The North Hills Marching Band wowed spectators with its precise, high-stepping military-style marching, while Pine-Richland brought its “World-Famous Dancing All-Girl Tuba Line” which has been thrilling crowds for the past 32 years.

The audience erupted in cheers when the Riverview “Raider” Marching Band played its rendition of Benny Goodman’s jazz hit, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and drum majors Preston Proctor, Jr. and Parker Morgan danced the jitterbug with members of the dance team.

“It’s a great night. I love seeing all the northern bands come together for an evening that gives student musicians a chance to shine under the lights. It’s wonderful,” said Shayne Stromberg, 44, of McCandless.

Stromberg was a drum major for NA’s marching band in 1991 and now cherishes the opportunity to watch her own 16-year-old daughter, Lily, perform in NA’s drum line.

Stromberg’s mother, Mickey Bateson, 68, has attended more than 30 high school and collegiate band festivals, first watching her children perform when they were members of NA’s band, and now, watching her granddaughter.

“The band festivals never get old,” Bateson said. “They change with time. These days they use a lot of props and dances. But what impressed me the most about this year’s festival was that each of the bands cheered for each other as they were playing.”

One of the evening’s biggest applauses came when NA percussionist Aydan Klobuchar asked NA dance team member Autumn Belebush-Clouse to the homecoming dance over the loud speaker.

She tearfully accepted, to the delight of the roaring crowd.

While the purpose of the festival is for area schools to share their halftime shows with one another and learn from each other, it also serves as a fundraiser.

Nearly 150 NA band-parent volunteers sold tickets, baked goods, hot foods, candy grams, audio grams, and 50/50 raffle tickets to raise money to benefit NA’s band program and the Allegheny Valley Band Organization, which sponsors the annual marching band festival and cross-district honors bands for middle-school and high-school musicians.

“I wish we could do two or three or 100 band festivals every year,” Lily Stromberg said. “I like the fact that it’s all about the bands. I love when we look up in the stands and see people cheering instead of leaving for the concession stand, like they do at the football games.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.