KUCHING: St Joseph’s School (SJS) Band has done the nation proud with a first place finish in the US Band Association’s Yamaha Cup at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The Kuching band scored 90.1 points to emerge champions in the 3A class for middle-sized bands with up to 75 performing members.
Not only did they earn the highest score among the 56 bands which competed in 11 categories, they also swept all the awards in their class for best colour guard, music, overall effect, percussion and visual for their drill show based on Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2.
The SJS Band was the first band from outside the United States to be invited to take part in the annual competition for American high school marching bands, which took place on Sept 26.
State Assistant Youth Development Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the band’s success brought honour to Sarawak and Malaysia.
“We are very proud of what the band has achieved, coming from a small place like Sarawak to be able to succeed in America,” he said when welcoming the band members at Kuching International Airport on Thursday night.
SJS band director June Ling said the win was not about beating other teams but setting their own benchmark and being accredited by top judges.
“This is possible because of the international team we managed to assemble through Jonathan Fox, our programme co-ordinator, who worked closely with our students.
“Top American instructors from Drum Corp International collaborated with local music arrangers to write and teach the music and drill for the show.
“We are also very thankful for the strong local community support without which this life-changing experience would not have been possible,” she said.
Trumpet player Aiman Mohd Nizam, 14, said: “The crowd was overwhelming. I was nervous but our instructor told us to breathe, relax and think of it as another practice. We did our best and in the end all our hard work paid off.”
The two-week trip to the United States included a four-day training camp in Atlanta where the band members were hosted by the Kennesaw Mountain High School marching band.
They also spent time in Boston and New York visiting famous places such as the Juilliard School, Metropolitan Opera House and Harvard University.