Blue Jay Marching Band and Jayettes Earn “Superior” Rating

Posted November 13, 2023 / Last updated November 21, 2023

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Five months after beginning work on their competitive marching show at Nicholls State University in July, members of the Blue Jay Marching Band and Jayettes earned top “superior” ratings in Chalmette at the 2023-24 LMEA District IV marching festival. The accolade marks Jesuit’s commitment to the fine and performing arts as an integral part of its classically grounded educational program.

Titled “Enter The Matrix,” this year’s field show featured an original, four-movement score that highlighted the technical and musical skills of both the band and the Jayettes.

Leading the ensemble were drum major Mark Johnson and Jayette captain CiCi Anderson. The expertise and leadership of director of bands Joe Caluda ’79, associate director Jason Giaccone, Jayette moderator Susan deBoisblanc, and Jayette coach Erin Castille were evident in every note and step. Their guidance, coupled with the dedication of teaching staff like Woody Dantagnan and Blake Schayot played a pivotal role in this achievement.

Demographically, the band’s composition is uncharacteristically young, with over 55% of its members currently in the 8th and 9th grades. The group’s achievement at the festival is even more noteworthy in this light, and the band is set for years of continued growth as these underclassmen step into leadership roles in the coming years.

“This year’s incoming band class was the largest since I began my time as a band director at Jesuit in the ’90s,” said Caluda. “I’m proud to see our seniors and juniors rise to the occasion musically, but I’m even more proud to have seen them step up as leaders and role models.”

Caluda also pointed out that this year’s performance was especially notable because of its unique instrumentation—the show leveraged Jesuit’s largest-ever front ensemble. This ensemble included instruments such as marimbas, xylophones, synthesizers, Macbook computers, electric bass, electric guitar, and wirelessly amplified brass and woodwind soloists. This approach added new layers of texture for the band as a whole while providing opportunities for meaningful musical engagement for students with a much wider array of musical backgrounds and interests.

Soloists Kamron Darkshani, Max Bartlett, Frank Young, John Rose, Carlos Gutierrez, Owen West, Ben Cedro, Bradley Eschmann, and Marc Sagastume, each played an important role by contributing exceptional featured performances.