The Buford Band of Wolves took its Friday night halftime show on the road to Hall County for the Flowery Branch Classic marching band competition on Saturday, Oct. 23. This was the second of the band’s four road competitions this season, and the marching Wolves have placed first in their division in both, finishing second overall in the Oct. 23 musical play-off.

Twenty bands from metro-Atlanta area high schools competed, with 15 of those 20 bands in Buford’s Silver Division classification. 

“Class divisions are based on the number of wind musicians performing on the field,” said Mrs. Bridget Wildes, BHS fine arts assistant/associate band director. 

The first-place award went to Forsyth Central High School in Cumming. All sizes of schools were represented, and bands were scored on a detailed points system. Wildes noted that less than two points separated the first and second place winners. Buford, a 6A school in GHSA’s size ranking, scored a 93.92 behind 7A Forsyth Central, which scored a 95.67.

“Every judge at the show had us in second place overall,” Wildes said. “Judges consistently commented on the impressiveness and virtuosity of our featured soloists (Savanna Wachter, Paul Kwak, Ray Choi, Rowan Martin, Jamie Koch, Adonis Diaz Romero, Peter Kwak, Audrey Zachman, Clay Mason, Gabriel Silva, Jimmy Ragazino), the coordination of all of the design elements and the pacing and effect moments of the show.”

Themed “Digital Menagerie,” this year’s halftime show was designed to be like a futuristic ride one might find at a Disney theme park, where the audience is taken through a digital, holographic zoo, using songs with the names of animals in their titles. Opening the set is “Birdland” by the 1970s and 80s American jazz fusion band Weather Report. On the field, the marching Wolves form a square with a large, square set piece designed to be the portal by which the “animals” escape to reality, where the audience can see their activity. Other songs in the show are “Peter and the Wolf” (an orchestral piece), “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’s, followed by theme music from the 1990’s video game “Donkey Kong, Water Country,” “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles and “Animal” by Maroon 5. Of course, the finale, “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, was strategically chosen to excite the Wolves’ home crowd audience and pay homage to the school’s mascot.

Band director Mr. Erik Mason expressed his gratitude for the support from the Buford administration, teachers and community members, saying, “It was tremendous to have the support of Superintendent Dr. Robert Downs, Assistant Superintendent Mrs. Melanie Reed, Fine Arts Coordinator Dr. Chris Fowler, BHS Fine Arts Department Chair Mrs. Kimberly Staples, and BHS dance teacher Mrs. Ashley Smith in the crowd on Saturday.”

Wildes added, “There were so many Buford fans in the stands; we looked up and saw a sea of green — just like a Friday night football game. It was amazing to have that much community support. This is just part of what makes Buford amazing!”

In a joint statement, Mason and Wildes added, “As directors, we are so proud of the kids and their progress throughout this season. We are learning how to succeed together, and the feeling we all had after coming off the field Saturday night was second to none. We still have things to fix before the end of our season, but we already have lots to (be) proud of!”

The Band of Wolves will compete next on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Milton High School.

FEATURED PHOTO: Buford High School band students celebrate a gratifying second-place finish at the Flowery Branch Classic marching band competition Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Senior equipment captain Max Rischar said, “It felt like everything in the performance just clicked. I just remember getting to the end and thinking about how seamless our performance felt and that it was the best we had to offer at this point in our season.”

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