SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- After two long weeks of band camp, the state champion Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Marching Band is ready to begin a new season of entertainment and competition. 

The 180-member band performs at SPFHS Raiders football games and at competitions on the USBands circuit. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the band will host its 17th Annual Marching Band Festival, featuring ten marching bands from the surrounding area, beginning at 5:30 p.m. During the fall season, the band plans to perform at seven SPFHS football games and eight USBands competitions, both of which begin September 12. 

After the SPF band swept the 2014 awards in US Bands Group 6A, it was reassigned to the more competitive Group 6-Open for the 2015 season.

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“That’s just numbers and letters,” said SPFHS band director Durand Thomas. “We continue to strive for excellence. That’s not going to change.”

Band staff also includes assistant directors John Gillick and Chris DeCarlo, and color guard director Jackie Tumolo. Student drum majors for 2015 are Mary Catherine Stovall, Melody Weigel and Kaavya Krishna-Kumar.

The 2015 show features music from Scheherazade by Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns, and Cleopatra by Alex North. Soloists are Shay Blechinger-Slocum on flute and Kevin Sonpar on baritone. The band debuted its 2015 show, titled “Chance Love - Tales Beneath a Persian Moon” at a show for friends and families on September 3.

USBands, a program of Youth Education in the Arts, is a competitive circuit for scholastic band programs nationwide and has a membership of more than 700 high school marching bands.