BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - There were a record 16 bands participating in last week's 45th Annual Pageant of Champions Marching Band Tournament at Gov. Livingston High School. The Pageant of Champions is sanctioned by the Tournament of Bands (TOB).

Throughout the eight week season, bands perform in competitions within their TOB chapter -- scores are recorded and the bands are ranked. The season culminates at the Atlantic Coast Championships, in Hershey, Pa. where bands across nine states compete. The Highlander Band will compete for its 16th Atlantic Coast Open Championship title, last won in 2012. 

The heritage, tradition and excellence of the Highlander Marching Band continues under the direction of Nicholas O'Sullivan, an alumni of Gov. Livingston. "There may be nothing more inspirational than the music of our children," he said. "They are the music of our hallowed heritage; they are the music of the future." 

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This year's 40 member Highlander Marching Band and seven member Color Guard performed a field show featuring the theme of "Seven," said  O'Sullivan. "We are celebrating this mysterious number with the music of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, the seven deadly sins, seven as a lucky number, the seven colors of the rainbow, and seven in mathematics and science." 

According to tradition, the host band performs as an exhibition. Maya Sternberg led the band as Drum Major; Sam Mustacchi as Pipe Major; and Emily Redunski as Color Guard leader. Their performance scored a season high 90.3. out of 100 points, ranking them in first for Open Class Group II for the tournament. Brick Memorial was awarded tournament champion.

Each performance is between seven and eight minutes long, and throughout the various competitions, changes can be made and new things can be added to enhance the music or visual scores. The 16 bands participating in Sunday's competition were judged against other ensembles within their category [of experience: Open Class, A Class or Festival Class] and based on the number of marching musicians.

This year's pageant was dedicated to the Vicendese and Manganiello families, who have been an intricate part of the life and culture of Berkeley Heights. Their association with the Highlander Band and Gov. Livingston spans decades. Midge and Mark Vicendese were present to accept the honor at the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the event. Our musical community has been enriched by their presence. 

The event is supported by many community businesses, alumni and current band parents. O'Sullivan is thankful for the support from the community and acknowledges that "much that happens here is thanks to them and their endless support." 

About Tournament of Bands (TOB): TOB provides a competitive arena for marching bands with hundreds of bands competing in field shows from September through November.