Versailles Marching Band celebrates perfect season


VERSAILLES — Versailles Marching Band finished their competition season at OMEA State Finals Sunday, Nov. 6. The 58-member band took the field at 3:15 p.m. at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium and earned a Superior (I) rating with their stunning competition show, The Samurai and the Maiden, resulting in an officially “perfect season.”

The band was welcomed home that evening with a celebratory escort by the Versailles Fire Dept and Versailles Life Squad. The students and staff were thrilled village officials made the escort possible after a recent policy change (Versailles Music Boosters had pushed against) threatened to exclude the music department from official escorts.

Versailles Marching Band members qualified for OMEA State Finals with a Superior (I) rating at the Marion Local Competition on Sept. 24, and went on to have a perfect season. Versailles Marching Band scored Superior (I) at their own Versailles Invitational, at the Piqua competition, and at Tecumseh. They also placed first in Class B and first in Percussion at each competition. In two of their four contests, the band also scored first in Auxiliary. Additionally, the band was named Class B and C Grand Champions at Piqua and Best Overall General Set, Best Overall Music, and Overall Grand Champions at Tecumseh.

This season’s featured soloists were Ethan Rauh (Samurai); Kira Cheadle (Maiden); Collin Rismiller (Evil Samurai and keyboard); Abbi Peyton (flute); Peyton Groff (clarinet); Logan Peiffer and Megan Mangen (alto sax); Jayme Rethman (tuba); and Alyssa Barga (mellophone).

The Versailles Marching Band is directed by Ronda Stammen and assisted by Michael Fulk. Stammen earned her undergraduate degree in music education from Wright State University. This year marks her ninth season with Versailles. Assistant director, Michael Fulk, who first joined the team as a brass instructor in 2017, received his music education degree from Ohio University, Athens.

Additional 2022 staff included colorguard advisor, Kyleigh Ryan; choreographer, Katelyn Ahrens; percussion instructors, Matthew Dawson, Alex Barga, and Andrew Heckman; and field commanders Abby Koons, Ethan Rauh, and Hailey Arnold. The band also appreciated the assistance of Versailles middle schoolers who helped move and support big props for this complex show.

Stammen explained the collaboration for the show began with a focus on student ability and a desire to pull inspiration from a different continent. In finding The Samurai and the Maiden, Stammen said, “It really spoke to us.” She was excited for the chance to “travel to the Orient” and felt the students would enjoy creating the show. Stammen explained students’ ability to connect with a show is a huge part of its success and added, “High schoolers like a little darkness and the maiden dies, which got the crowd too—a surprise factor—and the kids really liked that.”

Logistically, the show was also an excellent fit. With the band having just received upgraded electronics, the koto (national instrument of Japan) sound could be produced through a synthesizer, and wireless mics allowed for amplification of woodwinds.

Stammen was pleased to purchase rights to a show that would not be sold again in the immediate locale and also allowed for some arrangement of the music. Percussion Instructor Matthew Dawson worked hard to tailor the piece to Versailles percussion. They went so far as to borrow a Taiko drum from Mississinawa Valley to produce an authentic sound. Stammen expressed great appreciation to Director Audrey Hathaway for her generosity in lending Versailles the instrument.

The band immersed themselves in Japanese culture to learn more about the story they would be portraying. Each of the four student leadership teams created Japanese-themed names, and everyone did their part to educate themselves on and represent Japanese culture this season.

Stammen and the Versailles team are already looking toward next year, searching for something “new and fresh” as she admits burnout can be real. The key, Stammen said, is to find a show with longevity that sparks excitement and is unlike any show they’ve done before.

Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.

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