Trojan Marching Band Presents: Paradise Lost

Maya Hirano, Copy Editor

      Beginning practices in June, the MHS marching band has spent countless hours rehearsing for this year’s show, “Paradise Lost,” which is based on the epic poem by John Milton. The plot focuses on the story of Adam and Eve, the fall of Lucifer and the introduction of sin to humankind.

     “In searching for a show to do this year, I thought it was a good idea to do something like this that — we haven’t really explored this type of emotional qualities or performances before. And I thought it was a good way to kind of introduce something new to the students and get them to expand their range in performance,” said Marching Band Director Derek Ka’apana.

     Fast-paced and more aggressive in spirit, “Paradise Lost” is a change of speed compared to previous shows put on by MHS. Quicker movements and an increased range of emotions created a different experience for the student performers. “I think in general, the full show is a little bit more of a step up than what we usually do, said Ka’apana. “The group this year has a lot of talent and skill. So keeping that in mind, I wanted to give them something that would be challenging for them and something that they would you know, spend months trying to work and perfect on.”

     On Oct. 19, the show was performed in front of an audience for the first time as a “preview performance” at the Menehune Classic, hosted by Moanalua High School. While it was not a competition, the performance was a good opportunity to get the judges’ feedback. “We had just learned some new parts of the show and the kids were expected — the students were expected to perform it that day, so we weren’t ready,” said Ka’apana. “Taking that in mind, some of the judges’ feedback that we got kind of reflected that.” 

     Despite the unsteady start, criticism from the judges helped to shine light on possible areas of improvement for upcoming competitions and performances. This includes the Kapolei Marching Band Festival which was held on Oct. 26, the Kamehameha Tournament of Bands held on Nov. 2 and the Trojan Band Fest held on Nov. 9. At the Kamehameha Tournament of Bands, MHS placed first in every category, won sweepstakes and was the top scoring band of the night. “I think the most challenging part of what we’re trying to put together right now is the end part of the show. There’s just a lot of fast moving drill — the forms that they make on the field,” said Ka’apana. “It’s just very fast paced, which again, is something that we’re not typically — we don’t typically do in other shows, so that is becoming a little bit more of a challenge.”

     Each year, marching band staff members are a mix of both MHS faculty and non-faculty. This year, Ka’apana decided to reach out to more people who were not on MHS staff to help out. Volunteers such as Ilima Intermediate School Band Director Tori Kawasaki provided different perspectives and teaching styles. “He’s had experiences with marching band and also marching drum corps himself, and he’s been doing a good job with our brass section this year,” said Ka’apana. “And then we have a few others that we have asked to help out. They are what we call ‘techs’ or ‘technicians,’ where their primary role is just to make sure things are being fixed throughout every practice and every rehearsal that we have.”

     Another new addition to the marching band staff is Lauren Teel, who is also a teacher at MHS. With a master’s degree in music, specializing in percussion performance, Teel has worked at multiple universities and is helping to grow the percussion section of the MHS marching band as director of percussion. “It’s a cool, unique thing that Mililani marching band does here. It’s not like every other marching band I’ve worked with, like it seems like everybody’s trying to make this creative product,” said Teel. “It’s not just like a sterile environment; it’s very creative and organic, and it’s unlike any other program I’ve worked with in a very positive way and I absolutely love it.”

     Teel’s musical history stretches back to her childhood, as she began writing music for fun around the age of four. She began to write music professionally around 2009, and wrote this year’s music for the MHS front ensemble. “What I really drew inspiration from was from a piece that one of my professors at the University of North Texas wrote, which was about going through the gates of hell. So I drew inspiration from that with the sonata that you kind of hear in the front ensemble keys and we also use a lot of sound effects to kind of emulate just different things you would think you would experience in hell,” said Teel. 

     With new staff members, new uniforms, new students and a new performance theme, Ka’apana hopes to give the audience a fresh experience compared to previous MHS shows. The marching band’s last official performance will be the Rainbow Invitational, held on Nov. 11.