Halftime ruled by cartoon theme

Jenna Gerling

Students holding large square banners over their heads marched down the field while the Kent State Marching Golden Flashes played the theme song to Tetris.

Orange, green, blue and yellow Tetris pieces streamed down into formation. Some students turned with their banners and folded them down to make them disappear.

Once the Tetris theme song ended, the students holding the Tetris pieces ran off the field, and the twirlers replaced their batons with blunt sabers – prop knives for the next videogame song, Mortal Kombat.

The marching band and athletic department hosted “2006 Kent State Band Day Extravaganza!” for Saturday’s football game, during which five high school marching bands interacted with the Golden Flashes to prepare for the afternoon’s selection of music – a Nintendo theme.

“Today’s show is dedicated to videogames past,” said Nick Quallich, senior music education major and announcer for the game. “We also welcome our Kent State Band Day; we have five schools represented here today: Windham Ridge, Leetonia, Plymouth-Shiloh, Midpark, and Warren Area High School from Pennsylvania.”

Will Kish, first year master of music education and graduate assistant of bands, said the athletic department and the marching band try to bring in as many high school bands as they can to perform with the Golden Flashes at pre-game and halftime for football games.

Kish said the Marching Golden Flashes rehearse at the Field House for an hour before the high school bands arrive. After this, the two-hour joint rehearsal begins.

“I think it’s just interesting that so many kids come together for the same purpose,” said Rodrigo Uribe, junior fine arts major, who plays trombone in the Kent State marching band. “We had never done anything like this before in (my high school), and usually we’d just have a visiting band come, but never from so far away.”

Tina Cramer, field commander of Leetonia High School Marching Band, said she and the band practiced together the last two weeks learning the music.

“A lot (of the students) are really excited for the Nintendo theme,” Cramer said. “They’re pretty good about learning music quickly; we didn’t have any problems with that.”

Adam Kaiser, a junior who plays snare drums in the Leetonia High School marching band said he thought the theme was a good choice.

“The theme is very fun, and it’s not a typical theme – not what you’d expect at a marching band show,” he said. “It will give a lot of energy to the crowd (because) everyone knows Nintendo – it’s pretty universal and the music is easy to recognize.”

The music from the halftime performance, including Tetris, the Super Mario Brothers theme song, underground song, underwater song and star song, was arranged by Field Commander Alexa McCleaster. One of the band’s tuba players, Doug Sutter, arranged the theme song to Mortal Kombat.

“I’ve wanted to do the (Nintendo) theme for a while,” McCleaster said. “And I actually transcribed the music already for a flute trio.

“When people heard what I was doing, they all wanted to do the music for Band Day; so I arranged it for a marching band instead of just flutes.”

McCleaster and Renee Hill, the other field commander, dressed as Mario and Luigi for the performance. The drum line dressed as ninjas from Mortal Kombat.

Overall, Uribe said the experience was a good chance to mix with the high school students.

“We hang out with (the high schoolers) pretty much until the game,” Uribe said. “The neat thing is they bring in their own styles of marching; it’s just neat to hear all the different ways and see all the different ways that they do everything.”

Contact performing arts reporter Jenna Gerling at [email protected].