Aliso Niguel High School Marching Band ends year of wins together, but apart

By Lou Ponsi

The Aliso Niguel High School Marching Band doesn’t talk a lot about winning.

They let their performances do all the talking for them.

In October and November of the current school year,  the Wolverines finished in first place in five tournaments in Division 4A and second in a fifth.

From 2016 to 2018, the Aliso Niguel band won six tournaments while competing in Division 3A.

The groups within the band – the concert band, symphonic band and wind ensemble – have also earned their share of accolades.

One factor for the success, says Band Director David Weinberg, is continuity. Weinberg has been the band director for 11 years, longer than any other director in the school’s history.

“When a band director takes over a high school music program from another director, it usually takes about five years to transform the group into what you want it to be,” Weinberg said. “It’s very much like a football team.”

Other keys include the boosters and support staff, he said.

“A band director cannot do this by himself,” Weinberg said. “There is no way.  It’s impossible. Like any football team with all the coaches they bring in, I have the same thing set up and these people work for me every week at rehearsal. So the staff and design team design shows that are advanced and exciting and accessible to the audience, but also are state of the art of what we do.”

And then there is leadership, said Weinberg, who has appointed leaders in all facets of the program.

“It’s like a CEO of a company and they are my managers,” Weinberg said. “So it is me and my staff and the leaderships. Those three components work together.”

The Wolverines were on a roll this school year, as they always are, but then came the coronavirus and everything shut down, he Weinberg said. The last day of in-person, on-campus school was March 13.

“It shut down seven of my ensembles,” Weinberg said, adding that the spring concert set for the end of May was also cancelled. “It was pretty devastating for them.”

Despite COVID-19, technology is allowing the band to continue to play together via a computer program called SmartMusic. The band can perform together online, but it’s not the same as performing in front of an audience. “We’re a performance ensemble,” Weinberg said. “That is the part that is the most heartbreaking for the kids.”

The most notable recent accomplishments by the Aliso Niguel High School Band include:

Oct. 5, 2019: 1st Place in the 4A division at the Warren HS Field Tournament

Oct. 19, 2019: 1st Place in 4A Division at the Poway HS Field Tournament

Oct. 26, 2019: 2nd Place in the 4A Division at the Irvine HS Field Tournament

Nov. 3, 2019: ‘Sweepstakes’ over all divisions in at the Los Altos HS Field Tournament

Nov. 10, 2019: 1st Place in the 4A division at the Ramona HS Field Tournament

Nov. 17, 2019: 1st Place and 4A SCSBOA Marching Band Champion (contest at Downey HS)

The list of  seniors includes: Noah Armstrong, Medana Cinca, Nicholas Dollberg, Joshua Dormaier, Wendy Estrada, Caytlin Gallardo, Matthew Gozon, Nathan Hellewell, Jiin Kim, Ethan Bendall-Lavenstein, Megan Long, Alex Lopez, Ruiz Momongan, Nolan Murphy, Nadia Origenes, Jarmaine Roxas, Justin Ryoo, Ixchel Salazar, Ishika Sameth, Keith Smith, Shardul Vijay, David Walker and Megan Zolinski.

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