Cultural Events

Newtown High School Marching Band & Guard Hosting Grasso Festival This Weekend

Published: September 29, 2017 at 12:00 am


The Newtown High School Marching Band & Guard will host its 21st Annual Joseph P. Grasso Marching Band Festival this Saturday, September 30, from 6 to 9:30 pm.

Gates will open at 5 pm, and the show will begin at 6. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.

Ensembles will take turns performing at the Blue & Gold stadium; Newtown is scheduled to perform at 9. Food will be available for purchase. The Annual Joseph P. Grasso Marching Band Festival is the group's largest fundraiser of the season.

Last weekend, for the third consecutive week, the Nighthawks Marching Band & Guard took home all the caption awards in addition to winning their division on September 23, at New Milford High School. Along with capturing the highest score over all divisions in the competition, the Nighthawks scored wins in Best Music, Best Visual, and Best Overall Effect, as announced after the competition.

Band Director Kurt Eckhardt reflected this week on his expectations for the rest of the upcoming season and this weekend's festival.

The band's show this year is called Dystopia, and is based on author George Orwell's novel 1984. Mr Eckhardt said he chose the show - which was written by Kevin Shah - for its thematic and musical material. The performance also includes recorded narration of scenes from the book, which plays under the control of a student using a keyboard performing in the show.

The students, Mr Eckhardt said, have a lot of enthusiasm for the show.

"They love it," he added.

For the Marching Band & Guard's performances, Mr Eckhardt said he is always striving for continuity, and he thinks this show accomplishes that.

So far the Marching Band & Guard has had "very good scoring" at season competitions, he reflected. The rest of the season will include traveling to the Philadelphia area for a large competition, and the season will culminate in participating in a national championship competition at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

"That's what we are pushing for," said Mr Eckhardt about national championships.

This year the band has 95 students.

"We're a little smaller this year, but we are making up for it in being really good," he added.

This year, Mr Eckhardt said there are multiple new members of the Marching Band & Guard staff, and some returning staff members have new titles. Along with Mr Eckhardt, staff members include Chris Carley, Ricky Grasso, Ian Flynt, Kevin Shah, Conor Kovatch, Kevin Thompson, Tori Whittington, Victor Genin, Phillip Hong, Grace McKinley, Bryson Teel, Tom Sulzicki, Tayloranne Turecheck, Elisee Ngbo, Kurt Berglund, Sara Kurokawa, Vinny Brophy, and Frank LaBanca. Student leaders include Adam Wolff, Jenna Ehnot, Gracie Sholtes, Thomas Jensen, Ian Klepacki, Isabelle Fitzgerald, and Tess Trahan.

This weekend's Joseph P. Grasso Marching Band Festival will be one of the biggest in recent years. Mr Eckhardt said ten bands are expected to perform, and a number of the bands - including Newtown - are generally considered to be some of the best in the state.

The festival will also include a ceremony honoring the 24 graduating seniors. The NHS Marching Band & Guard seniors are Maggie Alexander, mellophone; Jack Bittman, tenor saxophone; Jen Browne, flute; Andrew Buzzi, tenor saxophone; Kyle Chernoff, trumpet; Andrew DeGirolamo, trumpet; Bryce Doherty, tuba; Jimmy Doutney, trumpet; Jenna Ehnot, drum major; Tristan Filiato, pit; Isabelle Fitzgerald, color guard captain, Michael Glover, color guard, Anthony Isabella, trumpet; Thomas Jensen, brass captain, trombone; Emily King, pit; Ian Klepacki, woodwind captain, alto saxophone; Jake Loutensock, trumpet; Matt Lundquist, drumline; Dominic Pasquarella, drumline; Scott Preszler, drumline; Kevin Reiss, tuba; David Romano, pit; Grace Sholtes, drum major, alto saxophone; and Adam Wolff, drum major.

A schedule of the Marching Band & Guard's season is available on its website,


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