PENNSBURY >> On a cold Saturday night, marching bands from Cherry Hill East, Easton, Wissahickon and Bristol Township warmed up Falcon Field in Fairless Hills with outstanding music and precision marching.
The Pennsbury High School Marching Band hosted its annual fall band festival on November 2, which saw Easton and Cherry Hill East marching home with superior ratings and the Truman Tigers and Wissahickon Trojan bands earning outstanding ratings.
Performing before a cold, but energetic crowd, the bands maneuvered across the field with the Easton Red Rovers band performing "Rise of the Samurai Warrior" by Gary P. Gilroy, Cherry Hill East presenting “The Black Swan,” Truman performing “Rocket Man,” a tribute to Elton John, and Wissahickon presenting “El Rio Del Tiempo” (River of Time) featuring the music of Randall Standridge.
While not competing on Saturday night, “the long orange line” wowed the crowd with its 2019 field show, “Angelico,” featuring a glorious revelation concluding with an experience that can only be described as angelic.
The Falcon Band, under the direction of Frank Mazzeo, is led by student officers Amanda Rearden, drum major; Ryan White, assistant drum major; Kartik Kannan, assistant drum major; Sonya Benegal, band captain; Andrew Kimock, drum captain; Rachel Omlor, band front captain; and Jacob Shin, pit captain.
Upcoming performances for the marching Falcons include the Lower Makefield Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, Nov. 9 and the 6abc Dunkin' Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
And in 2020, the band is poised to make history when it becomes the first U.S. band to march down Mickey Avenue (Main Street USA) at the new Shanghai Disney Resort in China.
The marching and concert jazz bands will spend spring break (April 2 to 10, 2020) performing in mainland China, including visits to the capital city of Beijing and to China’s largest city of Shanghai.
The band earned the nickname of the “Mickey Mouse” band in 2008 after becoming the only band in the world to travel to and perform in all five Disney parks - Tokyo (1988), Paris (1992), Hong Kong (2008), Orlando, Florida and California.
The trip, said PHS Band Director Frank Mazzeo, is in response to an official invitation from Shanghai Disney to perform at the park. “They have not had a band perform there. We would be the first,” said Mazzeo.
In addition to its Disney appearance, the trip, which will take 150 students and 13 chaperones, including staff and boosters, halfway around the world, will include performances in both Shanghai and Beijing.
In Shanghai the musicians will perform at the Poly Grand Theatre. In Beijing they will visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and perform a “side by side” musical performance with Chinese students at the Communication University of China.
They also will visit the Great Wall of China where they will play a standstill performance of “Hail to the Falcons.”
In addition, Mazzeo said there will be other opportunities for sightseeingalthough exact details of the itinerary are still being finalized.
“This is an opportunity that provides students with a learning experience that I believe can transcend what occurs in the classroom for the time they are overseas,” said Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula. “It builds cultural awareness, appreciation and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
This won’t be the “Long Orange Line’s” first trip to East Asia.
Thirty-two years ago in 1988, under the direction of Mike Grothman, the band took a widely publicized and historic trip to the People’s Republic of China as the long orange line stretched halfway around the world.
The band’s first trip to China came at the invitation of the Chinese government who had seen a video of the band’s performance and were eager to have the young musicians perform in China as part of a cultural exchange.
The renowned Pennsbury Marching Band has performed on five continents including Australia, Europe, South America and Asia, and has appeared in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, and has marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade for nearly three decades.