by Wyatt Martin
Special to the Star News
The 728 Cadets Marching Band made up of students from Rogers, Elk River, and Zimmerman middle and high schools has thrived this season with head director Joe Jaeger’s creation of “Invincible.”
The concept centered around superheroes, has been a winning concept with the students and in competition.
“Since it is superhero themed, the kids can easily grasp the concept of working hard to become invincible,” Jaeger said. “That has been a huge motivator for us.”
The show opens to the heroic sounds of “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland, a well-known piece in the band community that has been heard frequently in popular culture. The music and drill introduce the idea of a superhero and the chaos that a superhero might encounter. The remainder of the show features excerpts from Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 10.”
On the music choices, Keith Saxton, music director commented “the music has a lot of energy, and it sets the right mood to fit the visuals of the show. We take classical music and make it cool for the kids.”
The Cadets have had a successful competitive season. They began their season with a non-competitive parade at Zimmerman’s Wild West Days Parade, a long-time Cadets tradition.
Their first competitive parade took place at Milaca on June 15, where the Cadets won grand champion honors, and also received caption awards for best color guard and best percussion.
On June 17 the Cadets attended the Harry Wenger (Owatonna) and Lake Waconia marching band festivals, two of the largest competitive marching band festivals in the state. Throughout the day, the Cadets took top honors in Class AAA and overall grand champion at both the Harry Wenger and Lake Waconia marching band festivals, as well as two caption awards for best color guard, two for best percussion, one for best winds, one for best drum majors and a people’s choice award from the Harry Wenger Festival.
Additionally, for the fifth consecutive year, the Cadets took home the Owat-Onia Award for achieving the top combined score from the two festivals that day.
“This season has been extremely positive,” said Jaeger, “and the kids have had great attitudes the whole time. We have been pushing them hard to become stronger each year, and they are really latching on to that this season.”
The Cadets performed for the Riverfront Concert Series in Elk River on June 22, then the Rockin’ Rogers parade on June 24. Following the parade, they traveled to Alexandria to perform in the Minnesota Drum Corps Premiere along with the 777 Lancers from Mankato and Alexandria Marching Bands plus four of Minnesota’s drum and bugle corps which debuted their 2017 shows.
The next day, the Cadets marched in the Vikingland Band Festival, a parade regarded as one of the biggest marching band competitions in the Midwest, and as the unofficial state championship for Minnesota parade marching.
At Alexandria, the Cadets were incredibly successful. They received first place in their class for the fifth year running, caption awards for best winds, best color guard, and best percussion, the coveted People’s Choice Award, and overall grand champion of the festival.
A video excerpt of their performance from the judges’ stand can be found on Vikingland Band Festival’s Facebook page. The video had 10,000 views in 24 hours. It can be seen at: https: www.facebook.com/Vikingland BandFestival/ ?hc_ ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf
For years the 728 Cadets have followed the Alexandria weekend with another favorite event, the Roseville Rose Parade, which took place June 26.
This is another highly competitive parade and the Cadets took first place honors in their class plus best percussion and best color guard caption awards. Other late-season parades for the Cadets include the Pierre Bottineau Parade in Maple Grove on July 13, the Monticello Riverfest Parade on July 16 and a final home show in Elk River for the Sherburne County Fair parade on July 22.
In addition to their Minnesota performances, this year the Cadets traveled to Traverse City, Mich., July 5 – 9 to perform in the National Cherry Festival, an annual event dating back to 1926 that sees an average of 500,000 attendees over the course of eight days. The Cadets won and came home with more hardware.
The National Cherry Festival hosted three parades this year, and the Cadets marched in two of them: the Junior Royale Parade on July 6, and the Cherry Royale Parade on July 8. While traveling the Cadets also visited Mackinac Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.
The 728 Cadets Marching Band is directed by Jaeger. The color guard is directed by Evan Pufpaff with the help of Carrie Snyder and Lauren Hipsag. Percussion is directed by Joe Jaeger along with Jake Esterberg, Joey Wattenhofer and Dani Augustine. Winds are directed by Keith Saxton with the help of Ethan Wightkin and Shannon Curtis. Visual design is provided by Jacob Daniel, Joe Jaeger, and Alexis MacArthur.
728 Cadets Marching Arts is a non-profit music organization within the Elk River Area School District serving students grades 7 – 12 in the Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman schools.