Maui High band overcomes rivals, weather

Members of Maui High School’s Saber Marching Band and Color Guard may have been “drenched” down to their “undergarments” Saturday night, however nothing could stop them from claiming the top prize in their division at the Mililani High School Trojan Bandfest on Oahu.

“We were definitely surprised but very happy,” said senior Marlena Cua, the band’s head drum major, on Sunday. “It was sort of a bittersweet thing because this was our last concert. We’re sad that the actual season is over.”

Cua conducted the 109-member band that competed in the festival’s AAA Division, finishing with the top score for the fourth straight year against Oahu’s Kalani and Leilehua high schools. The band’s victory included first-place finishes in four categories: color guard, percussion, general effect and marching. Other categories were drum major (second) and music execution (third).

Maui High also was one of the few schools to achieve an excellent division rating; no superior ratings were awarded.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” said band teacher Kerry Wasano. “The students were amazing (Saturday) night.”

This year’s performance was titled “The Calling” and incorporated various movie soundtracks and classical compositions, Wasano said.

Senior color guard captain Kourtney Kaya said that the choreography in the nine-minute performance was a combination of previous years, but “definitely different from what we usually do.”

“We practiced 15 hours a week after school,” she said of the band. “(In addition) the color guard practices separately – putting in extra hours and doing camps where we learn a lot of our choreography.”

One of the highlights during Saturday’s performance was a change in dresses worn by the 28-member color guard about halfway through the show. Originally wearing purple gowns, the guard members hid behind band members and swiftly stepped out in white ones.

“We actually practiced it for like 10 days,” Kaya said. “We did it over and over again.”

The dressing change was the least of Cua’s worries, though, as she was worried about band members’ safety during the heavy rains.

“We were just getting poured on and as soon as we got on the field it started raining even more,” she said. “We were absolutely drenched all the way down to our undergarments.”

Kaya said that as soon as their performance was finished, members packed up their instruments but could not get to the hotel and shower until a couple hours later.

“We were so cold,” she said laughing.

Back at the hotel, band members laid out all of their clothes to dry and used blow dryers on the plumes of their hats because they were “absolutely soaked,” Kaya said.

In addition to Saturday’s festival, Maui High played in the Rainbow Invitational Marching Band Festival on Friday at Aloha Stadium. The Sabers are planning to participate in the 126th Rose Parade in 2015.

With the marching band season concluding for the school year, Wasano said that he was proud of his students, who raised $60,000 to $70,000 for the trip to Oahu, and was thankful to the band’s booster club.

“Rain or shine they got to perform,” he said.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at