by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Writer
If you have had a chance to listen to the 728 Cadets over the past three years, you have probably been impressed.
River Valley Sound, part of the 728 Cadets, competed over the weekend at the Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, placing fifth.
The group features members from Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman and is the 728 indoor wings ensemble team. It participated in the Scholastic Open Class for Winds in Dayton, achieving a score of 81.325. Dayton becomes a music capital for the month of April, as the Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts World Championships take place all month. This year, all three groups of 728 Cadets, including River Valley Sound were invited to participate in Dayton.
“To have all three of our winter groups earn finalist spots at the WGI competition is something very few groups nationally can say they have accomplished,” said River Valley Sound Director Michael Reed. “This is a credit to the extremely strong music departments across our entire district. The teachers who see our students on a daily basis are to be commended for their contributions to our students’ music education.”
River Valley Sound is only in its third year of existence, but has already competed in the open class this year, a much more challenging repertoire. River Valley Sound is the first group of its kind in the upper Midwest, as Michael Reed, Keith Saxton, Mark Walentiny and Matt Brisbin brought this idea of indoor marching arts to life. While Reed is the head director and does the visual design, Saxton is the music director and composer and Walentiny and Brisbin are the marching techs.
“The students accomplished more than we could have dreamed in just our third year of existence,” Reed said. “To be able to compete against some very large and successful nationally recognized programs is just what we need to continue to grow and raise our personal level of achievement.”
The 2016 production “After Midnight” takes viewers back to the 1940s, outside a jazz club in Harlem. The music, composed and arranged by Saxton, is called “Midnight Blue” that Saxton says was inspired by many jazz legends throughout time. Through the performance, River Valley Sound explores swing, Latin and fusion jazz styles, and improvised solos, all on a set that Reed designed himself.
As the competitive circuit for this unique style of music and performance is still being developed, River Valley Sound filled the 2016 season with many exhibition and judged performances, improving as the year progressed.
“What we as River Valley Sound accomplished at WGI is no small feat and will be a memory our students will have for the rest of their lives,” Reed said. “As their director, I am so very proud of how they performed over the course of this season.”