Fitch Band hosting ‘Sounds by the Sea’ Oct. 19

From the banging of the drums to the blasting of horns, the sounds of band practice usher in the fall season for Robert E. Fitch High School. It’s the busiest time of the year for the school’s marching band, especially seeing as the school will soon be central ground for one of the most important band events in New England.

With the date marked on its calendar, the band has been practicing almost non-stop in preparation for the big day.

The Oct. 19 event at Fitch, called “Sounds by the Sea,” is an annual band competition starting at 1 p.m., as well as a fundraiser to support school marching band programs. It is run by a group in Pennsylvania called USBands and hosted each year by Fitch High School. The event attracts schools from all over Connecticut and sometimes Massachusetts, all of which perform under the USBands competition bracket.

The students will also go to other schools during weekends prior to the event to compete and show their support. Their first performances were Sept. 28 at Rocky Hill and Norwich. Fitch High School will be hosting “Sounds by the Sea” for the eighth time in a row.

Each year, the band’s performance is centered on a certain theme. This year’s show is called “Spark of Invention.” It is based on the historical account of Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb.

All components of the performance, including the music and choreography, are centered on that idea. The band members raise their hands to the sky as they march around rows of lightbulbs, and a soothing melody is played on the xylophones.

The music flows just like the ideas of a famous inventor until the cymbals bang, marking the moment of discovery. At least, that’s one interpretation.

The concept for each performance is planned a year in advance. As a matter of fact, the theme for next year is already being planned even before the competition for this year has taken place.

The band has instructors and a design team in the Boston area that helps put the show together by designing the choreography, composing the music and other tasks. The entire team works year- round to help the band bring a performance to life.

“It’s really cool,” said band member Sophie Bonnassieux. “It’s cool when the show finally comes together, and it’s awesome to see everyone work together as a team.”

Competitions are certainly nothing new for the Fitch High School Marching Band. The band has won many local host shows, been consecutive New England State Championship winners since 2015, and even placed in the top four or five in their class nationally.

But even with such an impressive track record, the band has not eased up on how much effort and practice they put in.

The students began rehearsal in mid-August, two weeks before school officially began. After school began, they began practicing two nights a week as well as all of Saturday.

“The group is great; the kids are always fantastic,” said band director Andrew Lefebvre. “They are a hardworking group and they’re dedicated.”

The work is hard for the young musicians, but the sense of accomplishment and pride in something so big is felt by everyone. Band member Ben Traverso had this to say: “It feels amazing because we just do so well and we have such good staff that push us to do our best. It’s one of a kind; you’re not going to get this kind of experience anywhere else.”

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. All profits will go towards the school’s marching band program.

Paul Garrett is a Times intern studying at Mitchell College.

Editor's Note: This corrects an earlier version to reflect the new time.

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