RFA Marching Band are State Champions!

RFA Marching Band are State Champions
Posted on 10/29/2018
First Place

The Rome Free Academy Marching Black Knights 2018 production of “Mirage” placed first in the Large School Three Division of the New York State Field Band Championships last night at the Carrier Dome.  The marching band began competing in 2011; this is their first state title. 

Band president Maria Keeney says “It was truly the most amazing feeling knowing all my hard work paid off.  I was so happy all I could do was cry tears of joy.” RFA Band Director Jake Meiss says “it’s a dream come true.  We knew going in that we were in the lead, but we’ve been close a couple of times in the past, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up or jinx ourselves.  We all felt amazing when we heard them read Rome Free Academy in first place!” 

The full results from large school three: 8th place- Suffern with 71.15; 7th place – Auburn, with 72.5; 6th place – East Ramapo, with 74.05; 5th place- Greece with 77.6; 4th place – Copiague with 79.45; 3rd place – Hicksville with 80.1; 2nd place – Hilton with 81.2; 1st Place – RFA with 83.25.

Meiss says it was “nerve-wracking” listening to the announcer read off the scores, but says it was “gratifying to hear that we won by a full two points.” He adds, “that may not sound like a lot, but in the Marching Band world, it really is!”

Meiss says the band is “a really exceptional group of students. They worked incredibly hard from day one.  This band truly earned first place, through practice at home, long rehearsals in good weather and bad, and through perseverance, determination, and grit.  I am so proud of this group of students.” At the same time, Meiss would like to thank all the former RFA Marching Band students: “They all played a huge role in building the program over the years to get us to this point.  A lot of them were at the Dome to see it happen, and many more have been messaging me – I know they are just as proud as I am.”

The RFAMB was proud to be honored with a police and fire escort as they came back into the city, and the band is grateful for the support of the whole community. The band would like to thank the Rome City School District, the Rome Music Department for its outstanding educators, the Board of Education and Administrators Brian LeBaron, Andrea Falvo, Robb Mezza, and Peter Blake for their support. They would also like to thank former administrators like Mark Benson and Jeff Simons for helping the band enter the competitive circuit years ago.  Meiss adds that “all along, we’ve had really amazing band parents who help us in so many ways, and this year is no exception – building props, fitting uniforms, loading and unloading equipment, providing snacks for bus rides – these band parents do so much!” Meiss goes on to thank the excellent staff: Aaron Decker, Mike Fenton, Anne Gannon, Nick Johnson, Jamie Mazur, Lindsay Mogle, Melissa Rashford, and Keller Shelton.  The music for Mirage was arranged by Nick Baratta, with drill design by Meiss, and color guard design by Mazur, Mogle, and Meiss.

The Marching Black Knights are comprised of 74 students in grades eight through twelve.  They are under the field direction of drum majors Izabella Rivera and Katie Dursi.  Flutes include Levia Hernandez, Megan Norris, Amity Szatko, Rowan Parker, and Kayleen Martelli on piccolo.   Clarinets are Maria Keeney, Madison Wolfe, Clarissa Burkhart, Avery Hildebran, Alexa Platis, Aleena Rosario, and Madison Short.  Saxophones are Rafael Rivera, David Salce, Gianna Kleber, Mallory Tikalsky, Olivia Bauer, Dennis van Hoesel, Mariah Taylor, Isabella Davis, and Nick Ferretti.  The trumpet section includes Zoey Fragapane, Anja Burkhart, Sven Van Hoesel, Enrique Rivera, Cooper Englebert, and Alex Linderman.  Mellophones are Dominic Sleszynski, and Jakob Talbot.  The low brass section is comprised of trombonists Bethany Beeman, Joe Keeney and Jacob Cosentino; euphonium player Zach Swistak; and tuba players Giovanna Sudol, Ramzy Davis, and Alex Zappavigna.  Percussion ensemble members include Patrick O’Neil, Zach Filer, Deven Hosley, Emily Worth, Chris Incorvaia, Hunter Pisaneschi, Christopher Cobb, Christian Cobb, Antonio Cicci, Jimmy Pike, Erin Lennon, Alexus Lennon, Kevin O’Neill, Mia Mirabelli, and Kenneth Davis. Color guard captains are Adriana Beckwith, Kayla Bush, and Kaitlin Flint, with guard members Taylor Griffin, Tori Wright, Myia Wright, Casey Hunziker, Hana Samad, Emily Brement, Becky Worth, Rebecca Norman, Adelina Rivera, Elena Davis, Lily Fleming, Ally Ferretti, Kayla Davis, Erika Rizzo, Kelly O’Neill, Hannah Morrison, Kaylee Gazzilli, and Joe Gazzilli, with special assistance from Anthony Coney.

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